Thursday, March 3, 2011

Easy Chicken Soup

This is about the easiest meal to make there is, and it's grain-free.  It also makes a great base for other recipes, because homemade broth is really the best.     

I always thought this version was somewhat standard for making chicken soup, but have since discovered that many people cook the chicken other ways, and then boil the carcass to make soup. This recipe is a much fresher, tastier, and easier version. It’s especially helpful when you don’t have much energy to cook, and is a good recipe for the GAPS Diet.

The basic recipe was given to me years ago by a dear friend, who called it “Jewish Chicken Soup” and I've treasured it ever since.

One whole chicken (free-range, organic is best)
Big soup pot with water
Kosher salt, about 3 t.
Fresh pepper to taste
2 bay leaves (essential!)

Wash the chicken, turn it breast-side down in the pot, and fill with water. It will sort of float. Add two bay leaves, about 3 tsp. Kosher salt, and cover (to make it boil faster). When it starts to boil, skim the scummy fat off the top of the water. Then the lid on halfway at this point and keep boiling.

Boil the chicken for about 40-45 minutes, depending on how big it is (a five-pound chicken takes about 40 minutes to this point).  It still has about 10 minutes left.  Turn the chicken breast side up. 

Then, add: 
1 onion, chopped
3-4 carrots, scraped and chopped in big pieces, on the diagonal
2-3 stalks celery, chopped in big pieces on the diagonal
any other vegetables added at the end, after boiling is finished

Continue boiling for another 10 or so minutes with the onion, carrot, and celery -- it doesn’t take long. At this point, it’s finished. Turn off the heat.  I like the vegetables to remain somewhat al dente and not mushy.   Boil longer if you like. 

When you’re ready to eat the soup, just cut off pieces of chicken into a bowl, add vegetables and broth, and enjoy! It’s that simple. I don't even bother to take the chicken out and cut all the meat off.. Just cut it off as you need it, and be sure and freeze some, it's delicious!

A note on adding other vegetables. I often add other vegetables at the end, like like cauliflower, broccoli, or cabbage.  For cruciferous vegetables like these, I'd cook them separately (steam for example) then add at the end, turn the heat off, and leave covered for a few minutes.  Do the same if adding shredded cabbage or spinach (which you don’t really want to cook, just wilt), and anything that will just soften in the hot water. If you’re not going to eat it right away, cover it for awhile, and the last vegetables will soften. These extra vegs will take on the essence of the chicken soup, without adding anything “stinky” to it.

Optional easiest method: If you’re low on energy, or sick with the flu or a cold, then just boil the chicken until it's done (the legs would be soft and the skin pulling back), cut off pieces of chicken into a bowl, add broth (including fat), salt and pepper, and eat. It's really delicious this way! 

Optional variations on the basic chicken soup
Sometimes I eat the regular chicken soup version the first day, then the second day, turn it into something a little different, like:

Coconut-Ginger Thai Chicken Soup
Asian Chicken Soup (for example, adding ginger, soy sauce, and garlic) 
Curried Chicken Soup

These are my recipes and I'll try to get them posted, but so ask me if you're interested. 

If you have any questions or comments, contact me at

Adele Sonora
Nutrition and Health Educator
B.S. Nutrition Science

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