Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Body and Soul

Chicken Soup Being Ladled from Pot
Ladle Full of Love and Comfort

Recipe inspired by Mom

If it’s a cold, rainy night in Santa Cruz, or if your husband is recovering from gum surgery, or if you feel a bit under the weather yourself, a big pot of chicken soup is a good bet. If all three of those circumstances occur at once—welcome to my week—it’s almost inevitable. Unlike vegetarian soups, which typically require pre-sautéing of vegetables to bring out flavor, chicken makes plenty of yummy juice when simply thrown into a pot with some water and a few seasonings. This simple preparation is a boon to the ailing cook, and even the Mayo Clinic agrees that chicken soup can help a body with cold symptoms feel better quicker.

Closeup of Bowl of Chicken Soup
Food for Nurturing
You can vary this recipe with ingredients on hand, as long as you use some starchy veggies, some sweet veggies (carrots, butternut), some savory veggies (celery, onions), and some herbs or other flavorings. Soup greens add flavor, texture, and vitamins, but if you don’t have them, skip them. Use any of these seasonings, alone or in combination, while the soup is cooking: bay leaves, poultry seasoning, dried oregano, fresh or dried thyme, fresh or dried sage, and/or a few peppercorns. Dried tarragon or fresh rosemary can also be good, but use them alone rather than in combination with other herbs.

Chicken Meat Being Separated from Bones
Variation: Use Leftover Baked Chicken & Stew 1 Hour
A soup ingredient worth shouting out is Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. A little of this all-purpose seasoning adds an indescribably well-balanced quality to the broth. It’s powerful, so don’t overdo it. Diners might want to add a bit extra to their bowls as a condiment. Other potential condiments include a squeeze of lemon, a squirt of hot sauce, or a sprinkling of fresh parsley. Or you might prefer the soup’s mild richness simply as is. 

Leave us a comment if you have a chicken soup recipe that you love!

Bowl of Chicken Soup with Spoon
Come & Get It
Huge Pot o’ Chicken Soup
Makes about 8 quarts

Note: this recipe can be cut in half

1 free-range organic chicken, about 2 lbs.
6 medium/small yellow potatoes
5 large carrots
6 large ribs celery
2 small onions or 1 medium leek
Powdered or cube bouillon (chicken or veggie)
1 – 1½ tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
20 small fresh sage leaves (see substitute herbs above)
½ tsp. dried thyme (see substitute herbs above)
1 small bunch chard or spinach, coarsely chopped
½ cup Italian parsley leaves

Remove fat and most of the skin from the chicken. Place in bottom of 10-quart pot.

Dice or thickly slice potatoes. Cut carrots into thick slices. Coarsely chop or slice celery. Quarter onions, or halve leek lengthwise and cut into thick slices. Add these veggies to the pot on top of the chicken.

Add water to the pot to cover the chicken and veggies, about 3 – 4 quarts. Add enough instant bouillon to make 8 cups of broth. This will season the broth slightly while allowing chicken and veggie juices to contribute their flavor. Add 1 tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Add sage and thyme.

Bring to boil over medium high heat. Simmer, covered, for 1½ hours, until meat comes off the bones easily (if you’re in a hurry you can try it at 1 hour, though flavor will be less developed). Remove pot from heat, and remove chicken from pot with tongs, being careful to drain out super-hot liquid from interior to avoid burns. Set chicken on plate to cool.

Add chard or spinach, along with parsley leaves, to pot. Bring to boil and simmer until greens (leaves and stems) are tender. Chard will take about 15 – 20 minutes, depending upon stem size. Spinach will take about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove skin and bones from chicken as it cools. When greens are done, add chicken back to pot. Stir and taste. Adjust flavoring with a bit more Bragg’s Liquid Aminos as needed. 

Basket of Carrots, Onion, Potatoes, Celery, Leeks, Parsley
Veggies for Half Recipe Variation


  1. I like chicken soup. Add some sweet corn and radish, it taste good. :)

    1. Good ideas, Yung. A few radish greens along with the radishes adds a spicy, earthy quality too. :)