It’s no secret that chicken soup is a favorite cold and flu comfort food. Whether you grew up eating it with matzo balls, orzo and lemon, or elbow noodles, we all have a version we love best. This recipe, made from a whole, organic chicken and filled with fresh vegetables, will say “made with love” and provide warmth and strength when it’s needed most. Immunity-boosting, grounding, and soothing, it’s the ultimate bowl of culinary medicine.
Chicken soup can take some time to prepare from scratch, but it’s worth the effort—it can’t be compared with store-bought varieties. But since most of the time is spent simmering, you won’t be in the kitchen all day—spend those rare free moments enjoying similarly cozy pursuits, like catching up on Netflix or taking a bubble bath.
Homemade Chicken & Rice Soup
- FOR THE CHICKEN AND STOCK
1 whole chicken, about 3 to 3½ pounds
4 celery sticks
1 small bunch fresh thyme
4 to 5 quarts water
- FOR THE SOUP
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 medium carrots, small dice
3 celery stalks, small dice
1 small bulb fennel, small dice (plus, reserve and chop ¼ cup of the fronds)
1 tablespoon sea salt (start with less if you’re watching your salt intake)
½ teaspoon pepper
7 cups chicken stock (from stock recipe above)
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken (from stock recipe above)
1 cup cooked brown rice
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
- To make the chicken and stock:
- Place the chicken in a large stockpot.
- Wash and roughly chop the stock vegetables. Add the vegetables and thyme to the pot.
- Cover with water to submerge all ingredients.
- Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. As the water evaporates and the chicken rises above the water, occasionally turn the chicken so it cooks evenly on all sides. When done, the chicken’s internal temperature should reach 165° Remove the chicken from the water, placing the chicken in a large bowl to cool.
- Strain the stock through a mesh strainer into another pot, and set aside. Discard the vegetables and thyme.
- When the chicken has cooled, remove the skin. Pick 2 cups of meat off the bones and chop it into small pieces. Then measure out 7 cups of stock.
- Note: You will likely have more chicken and stock than you will need for the soup. Save them for another recipe—the stock can even be frozen!
- To make the soup:
- Clean and dry the stockpot you used to prepare the chicken and stock. Place it over medium heat and coat bottom of pot with oil. Add the carrots, celery, fennel, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender (but not mushy).
- Stir in the reserved chicken, rice, dill, and fennel fronds. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or just until all the ingredients are incorporated and warmed through.
- Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Chicken Soup with Quinoa. Replace the cooked brown rice with an equal amount of cooked quinoa. Proceed as directed.
- Chicken Soup with Onion. Replace the fennel bulb with 1 small onion. Proceed as directed.
- Quick Chicken Soup. To save time, purchase store-bought stock and a roasted chicken. Pull 2 cups of chicken off of the bones and chop. Proceed to Step 1 of the soup directions.
Your very first homemade soup is going to feel like such an accomplishment! While the time commitment may seem daunting, if you plan well, it will be a breeze. You can make the brown rice and chop all your soup vegetables and herbs while the stock is simmering. You can even measure out the oil, salt, and pepper. Then, remove the cooled chicken from the bones while the soup vegetables are simmering.
Full of lean protein, vitamins, and minerals, chicken soup is a favorite remedy. From a nasty cold to a bad day, it’s the best gift you can give to yourself, your family, or someone in need. Chicken soup helps to boost the immune system and build strength when you’re feeling sluggish or sick. The brown rice provides a slow release of sustainable energy to get you back on your feet.
Chicken soup is a wholesome, hearty one-pot meal, but can be served with crusty bread and a side salad to make it more filling or feed more people. You can also turn the leftover chicken into sandwiches and serve them alongside steamy mugs of soup. If you’re on the go, ladle a cup or two into a Thermos and enjoy its down-home comfort anytime, anywhere!