As we slowly enter the Fall season, I am enticed to make soups, my favorite of all dishes to make. When all else fails and I know not else to make, I make my classic standby, Chicken Soup. I’ve made hundreds of pots of this soup for clients, for friends, for women who have just given birth, for my grandmother, for my dad as he was making his transition off this earthy plane, for hundreds of people at the Weston Price conference, for 300 7th graders at a camp I cooked for, for Nourishing Cleanse participants and for many others. I even brought this soup to a client once who told me it was better than his Jewish mother’s chicken soup and that was very hard to beat! I have taught it at cooking classes and without fail, everyone always loves this soup.
If you are new to cooking, this is really a foundational recipe that I recommend you learn. When I teach private cooking lessons, this is always one of the first things I teach.
I often read recipes and can tell by just looking if they are going to be good or not. What always surprises me is how almost every time I see a recipe for Chicken Soup, it calls for using chicken broth and then adding some chicken breast. No no no, people. This is not the way! If you make chicken soup this way, yes, it may be more simple, but it won’t be medicinal nor nearly as delicious. I used to make soup like that back in the old days before I knew better. Now I would never go back to that knowing how much better this way tastes and feels! This recipe is made with the WHOLE chicken including the skin and the bones. That is what makes it jelly like when chilled meaning it is full of collagen and gelatin and tastes so incredibly good! Also, using the whole chicken is much less wasteful and more economical than buying chicken cut up into parts. You do pay for that service.
Make someones day by bringing them a jar of soup. Save some in the freezer for a rainy day. I recommend freezing soups in pint size wide mouth mason jars. Those jars are meant for freezing and rarely break. The quart jars can work as well but are more likely to break if you don’t freeze them just right – upright and with plenty of air space.
Use all organic veggies and try your best to procure an organic and pasture raised chicken. Those aren’t easy to come by and are most likely to be found at the farmers market. This recipe can be adapted to be made in a slow cooker. To save time on clean up, skip steps 4 and 5 and simply cook your vegetables in the broth once the meat has been removed. Also, check out the suggested variations I mention at the bottom of the recipe.
This is one of the main recipes and things you get to eat in my Nourishing Cleanse. If you have been on the fence about doing my cleanse, make this soup and you will be a believer~!
Enjoy and Happy Souping!
P.S. Here is a video I made for you to help make this a little bit easier! Thanks to the amazing Jen Going for editing and video support.
- 3–4 pound whole organic or pasture-raised chicken
- 4 quarts filtered water (16 cups)
- 2 tablespoons plus 1⁄2 teaspoon good salt, divided
- 1 onion, diced – red, white or yellow (about 2 cups)
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds about 1⁄2” thick (about 2 1⁄2 cups)
- 4 stalks celery, ends trimmed and sliced about 1⁄2” thick (about 1 3⁄4 cups)
- +any other seasonal veggies you want - an addition 2 cups chopped - examples are zucchini, yellow summer squash, green beans, bell peppers, greens such as kale or collards, mushrooms, snow peas, tomatoes, etc
- Fresh herbs of choice - rosemary, basil, parsley, sage, thyme, cilantro - try these individually or add them in combinations and see what you like the best
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons fat of choice, divided
- Rinse off whole chicken and discard bag of gizzards (or save for later use), if included. Place whole chicken in large stock pot or slow cooker. Cover with water and add 2 tablespoons salt. Water should cover the chicken completely depending on size of your pot, but know the chicken may float as it is cooking until it begins to break down and get tender.
- Turn the heat on high and partially cover to bring the soup up to heat. Skim off any scum or foam that may rise to the top and discard. As soon as it boils, bring it down to a very low simmer. It should be bubbling very slowly.
- Simmer very slowly for 1 1⁄2–2 hours until it begins to fall apart easily when you poke it with a fork, or drumstick or wing is easily pulled from joint.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of fat of choice in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt; cook and stir until onion is tender and slightly brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon fat, carrots, celery and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt to skillet; cook and stir until carrots are lightly browned and slightly fork tender, about 10–15 minutes. Set aside.
- Once chicken is tender, remove from pot (or slow cooker). Let cool and then process by hand and remove all bones and skin.
- Turn heat off and add meat back into pot along with the sautéed veggies. Season to taste with salt and pepper and additional spices or herbs. Serve and enjoy.
Mexican Soup. Add 1 tablespoon each of cumin and chili powder, 2 cloves of minced garlic, juice of one lime. Garnish with sliced avocado and cilantro.
Mediterranean Soup. Add 1 tablespoon each fresh minced basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary.
Note: Any other veggies you desire are welcome in this soup. Winter greens, green beans, asparagus, zucchini or yellow squash, winter squash, and parsnips are all great options, but feel free to experiment. For even cooking, cut vegetables in similar sizes.
Note: Save bones and skin in a freezer bag for future use in broth making.