Soup Morgh Zaferani is a Persian chicken soup with saffron, vegetables, and vermicelli noodles. This delicious “red gold” soup is made with rich homemade chicken broth, diced carrots and potatoes. The soup is cooked for a short time, just until the vegetables are tender and flavorful but still hold their vibrant colors. The chopped fresh parsley is added right before serving for optimal flavor and color.
This soup is served in small amounts (usually one ladleful!) as a first course at formal dinner parties, so there is no surprise that it is sometimes called “soup é morgh é majlesi” which means a soup that is served at formal feasts and celebrations. The flavor and ingredients of this easy yet sophisticated clear broth soup have remained pretty consistent over the years.
Soup Morgh Zaferani is a glorious saffron soup that has regularly been cooked for special occasions in many Persian kitchens and its popularity dates back to several decades ago. It still remains as one of the most favorite traditional soups. I have memories of large, several course, dinner parties in Iran where this golden saffron soup was served in shallow china bowls with small red rose (chini gol sorkhi) print. As a child I always wanted a large bowl of this soup for my main meal; somehow its simple ingredients appealed to my young picky palate!
The standard ingredients for this Persian saffron soup mainly consist of a very rich chicken broth, and a small amount of diced carrots and potatoes. This is by no means a noodle soup, there is just enough vermicelli noodles to add a delightful texture without making it too thick. The spars amount of fine chopped fresh parsley adds a subtle flavor, and a beautiful contrast in color to this golden soup.
What makes Soup Morgh Zaferani spectacular and far more flavorful than any ordinary chicken soup, is the famous Persian “red gold spice” saffron; however, the quality of the homemade broth plays an equally important role. The broth is made by simmering several bone-in chicken pieces and/or chicken carcass for 2-3 hours in water with onions, salt and pepper. In old times the chicken pieces were cooked with skin for richness and flavor; I prefer to remove the skin for a lighter soup. The more chicken pieces and bones are used, the tastier the broth will be. I strain the broth and use it in the soup, and I save the cooked meat for another use, like salads!
If you have never had this soup before, you’re going to love how the broth mixed in with bits of tender vegetables and soft noodles can be transformed into an out of this world treat with the lovely aroma of saffron, (or ‘zaferan’ as we call it in Farsi). You’re going to be amazed at how something this simple could be so special. If you prefer your food on a slightly tart side, you may squeeze a slice of fresh lemon in your soup and sprinkle the top with some barberries before serving it.
Some other favorite soups that are served as a first course at parties and restaurants are Aash Reshteh and Soup Jo. These Persian favorites are sometimes served as a main course at casual family gatherings.
Make a rich broth by adding chicken pieces or chicken carcass (ask the butcher at your supermarket for it), water, onion halves, salt & pepper to a stockpot. Bring the water to a boil and skim off any foam that collects on top. Reduce the heat to just above low, cover the pot, and simmer for 2-3 hours. Strain the broth through a fine mesh and use it in the soup.
Make ahead tip: The broth may be made up to couple of days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
In a clean stockpot add the broth, small diced carrots and potatoes, cover and cook 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender (not mushy). Add the vermicelli noodles and cook for 5-7 more minutes until the noodles are tender. Remove from the heat, add finely chopped parsley and serve.
As displayed in this photo, the rich broth causes the dance of glistening circles on top of this aromatic and delicious saffron soup. I have sprinkled finely chopped fresh parsley for garnish this time, but sometimes I also like to serve it with a slice of fresh lemon and a few barberries on the side; either way, I really think it is one of best soups that I’ve ever had. Enjoy this Soupe Morgh Zaferani and let me know what you think!
Homemade broth: 2-3 hours
Soup prep time: 5 minutes
Soup cooking time: 20-25 minutes
- For the homemade chicken broth:
- 5-6 large skinless bone-in chicken drumsticks or thighs (may also use a whole chicken carcass with couple of chicken pieces)
- 3-4 cups cold water
- 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
- 1-1½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- For the soup:
- 3 cups homemade chicken broth
- ⅔ cup small diced peeled carrots
- ⅔ cup small diced peeled white potatoes
- 1/16 - ⅛ tsp ground saffron powder
- ¼ cup broken vermicelli noodles (or thin spaghetti), about 1-inch pieces
- 1-2 TBSP finely chopped fresh parsley
- Optional garnish (not used in this recipe):
- Barberries (zereshk)
- Slices of fresh lemon
- To make the homemade chicken broth add the chicken pieces and/or carcass, water, onion halves, salt and pepper to a stockpot. Bring the water to a boil, skim off any foams from the top.
- Reduce the temperature to the marking between low and medium low. Cover the pot and simmer for 2-3 hours. Check occasionally to make sure there is enough water in the pot. The broth will be very rich and flavorful at the end of this time and the meat will fall off the bone. If there is more than 3 cups of broth in the pot, leave the lid off and cook until it is reduced to this amount. Strain the broth and save the chicken meat for another use.
- In a clean stockpot add the broth, saffron powder, diced potatoes and carrots. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the temperature to just above low. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Add ¼ cup vermicelli noodles to the pot, stir, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the noodles are tender.
- Remove the soup from heat, add finely chopped fresh parsley and serve.
marcy youker says
you ave such a great recipes, I wish I could cook them all,thank you ,love your site!!
Marcy that is great to hear, thank you so much for a lovely comment!
Very yumi Persian soup.
Thank you for recipe.
Anytime dear Hamo. I hope you write me back when you make this soup and let me know what you think.
Thank you Homa Joon, I’ve learned a lot from your site, please keep it coming!! :-)))
Roya joon it is really nice of you to say that and I must say, it feels good to know that my work is being put to good use! Lovely to have you here 😉
Fae's Twist & Tango says
Just the name, ‘Soup Morgh Zaferani’ made me so excited, and the photos, OMG, I am drooling! I know how heave nly delicious this soup is. Truly, your blog provides every delight of a Persian Mama! 🙂
Awww, thanks sweet Fae! Lots of love to you my friend
Ian Parker says
Thank goodness I found this wonderful website. I visisted an amazing Persian restaurant in Amsterdam and they served this delicious soup as a ‘pre-starter’. Was surprised that the recipe does not contained tomatoes as I was sure it had them, perhaps my tastebuds got confused. It is a wonderful dish.
Thank you and welcome to my blog dear Ian. I’m glad that you’ve found your favorite soup recipe here. The main flavor of this soup is saffron which truly shines when there are no other competing flavors. I think you will love this soup as much as I do 😉 Happy cooking! Please keep in touch!
Ian Parker says
I did make this soup and as expected it was delicious, and if I may say, better when homemade!, not to say it wasn’t great in the restaurant 🙂
Dear Ian; thanks so much for taking the time to write a feedback! I’m very happy that this recipe has exceeded your expectations 😉 Wish you and yours a happy holiday season. Please keep in touch!
I made this soup tonight for my husband and brother in law who are both Persian. Wow! This is literally one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever had! So delicious! They loved it! I used the chicken meat to make your Tahchin recipe and that also came out so delicious and perfect!! I’ve made the Tahchin many times now and am so grateful for your amazing recipes! Last, I also made your raisin cookies tonight which were also so scrumptious! My brother in law said in Iran they have raisins that taste more sweet/sour… do you know where I could order them?
Thanks so much!!:))
Hi Amanda, you’ve had a delicious busy day in the kitchen. I so envy your guests 😉
I am always happy to read messages from my blog followers, but comments like yours are especially gratifying to read. This soup was one of the meals that I adored as a very picky eater and it still ranks very high among my favorites! Making tahchin with the meat is always a great time saving idea! I know the raisins that your brother in law is referring to, but unfortunately I have not seen them in the States. Please take care and write me back when you try any of my recipes, as these feedbacks inspire me, and they encourage others to try these recipes 🙂