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Cape Verdean Chicken Soup

298 Calories / 42 g Protein
PCOS-friendly recipe: Cape Verdean Chicken Soup

Family approved, this classic African ‘canja’ will warm you right through with wholesomeness.

PCOS-friendly recipe: Cape Verdean Chicken Soup
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Cape Verdean Chicken Soup

Difficulty: Intermediate Total Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 4 Calories: 298
Season: Suitable throughout the year


One of our staff members has Cape Verde roots in the family and therefore exposure to this chicken soup that is a standard in the region. The prep takes a little effort, but the finished dish is one the whole family will love. PCOS Nutrition made with love.



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  1. Place the chicken breasts in a large bowl. Use a spoon or spatula to rub the vinegar and lemon juice all over them. Fill the bowl with enough water to cover the chicken, stir a few times and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Drain the water, rinse 1 or 2 times and drain again.

  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, paprika,  crushed garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the bay leaves and cover the bowl in plastic wrap. Let the chicken marinate for a minimum of 1 hour (or overnight) in the refrigerator.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in an 8-quart stock pot. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken breasts to the pot and make sure to reserve the bowl that you seasoned the chicken in, including any fluid and the bay leaves. Brown the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side and then transfer the chicken breasts to a plate.

  4. Add the quartered tomato, chopped onions and the reserved bay leaves to the pot. Saute everything until the onions are clear and the tomato cooks down. Add the chicken back to the pot.

  5. Pour a splash of the chicken broth into the bowl that you used to season the chicken. Swirl the broth around in the bowl so that it loosens any seasonings that were left behind. Pour the seasoned broth into the pot and then add the remaining chicken broth. Top the pot off with enough tap water to fill the pot ¾ of the way up. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the flame and let it simmer for 1 hour.

  6. Taste the broth and adjust the amount of salt and pepper to your liking. Remove the chicken from the soup and shred or break it up. 

  7. Add the chicken back to the pot, and add the Shirataki rice and carrots.  Let the soup mixture (also known as canja) continue to simmer covered for about 45-50 minutes.

  8. Turn the flame off and stir the canja. Put the lid back on and let the canja sit for about 20-30 minutes.

  9. Ladle the canja into bowls and serve it with hot sauce and chopped parsley if desired. 

Nutrition Facts

Servings 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 298kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g13%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Cholesterol 110mg37%
Sodium 3406mg142%
Potassium 539mg16%
Total Carbohydrate 13g5%
Dietary Fiber 4g16%
Sugars 5g
Protein 42g84%

Vitamin A 228 IU
Vitamin C 21 mg
Calcium 23 mg
Iron 1 mg

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


Canja is the mother of Cape Verdean comfort food. It’s a thick, rich and delicious chicken soup that’s made with rice, vegetables and simple seasonings. 

Make sure to stir the canja periodically so that the 'rice' doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Try to maintain low heat or low flame so that the 'rice' doesn’t burn.

If you need to add more water to the canja at any point, make sure to only add boiling water and adjust the amount of seasoning.

Add 3-4 small new potatoes, diced very small, and sub chicken thighs for breasts to be more authentic and enjoy this recipe as a treat meal.

You can easily cut the amount of salt in this recipe.

Keywords: cape verde, canja, soup, chicken soup, lunch, winter, chicken breast, onion, tomato, carrots, shirataki, insulin resistance, PCOS, low-GI recipe, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, fat loss, weight loss, nutrition, healthy diet

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