The Healing Power in Chicken Soup
Have you ever wondered if chicken soup really does have medicinal effects against colds and flu? Me, too. I decided to find out.
Here’s what I learned: There is scientific evidence to suggest that homemade chicken soup contains several ingredients that affect and boost the body’s immune system.
Dr. Stephen Rennard, University of Nebraska Medical Center says that chicken soup, while not a cure, has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe sore throats and ease the misery of colds and flu—and even COVID-19. It helps us feel better so we can get better and that’s good enough for me.
But here’s the problem: Typically, it takes a long time to turn out a pot of homemade chicken soup—the kind of soup Dr. Rennard used in his considerable testing and analysis. It requires a process to pull all the healing goodness out of the bones, skin, and meat of a whole chicken.
When you’re sick or someone you love is ailing the chances are slim that you’ll find three or more hours to make soup. But you don’t have to.
Here’s how to make simple, rich, hearty, and flavorful chicken soup in about 50 minutes—from scratch!—start to finish.
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 whole chicken, about 3 ½ pounds
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 2 quarts boiling water, 8 cups
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups dry wide egg noodles, 3 ounces
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 rib celery, roughly chopped
Prepare the chicken
- Discard giblets and neck from the cavity. With a cleaver, knife, or poultry shears, hack off the legs, wings, and thighs. Don’t worry about being neat. Cut each of these pieces into two or three smaller pieces. Set aside.
- Cut the back away from the breast. Hack the back into several pieces.
- Cut the breast into two halves and set aside.
Cook the chicken
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large stockpot or other large pot on high. Once very hot, drop in half of the chicken pieces—all of the chicken pieces EXCEPT the two breast halves which are still set aside until Step 2 below—and sauté until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove pieces to a large bowl. Repeat with the rest of the chicken pieces until all chicken is browned, out of the stockpot, and in the bowl.
Prepare the soup
- Add onion to the pot and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly colored and soft, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Find those two breast halves in the bowl of chicken, and set them aside. Return the rest of the chicken to the pot including any juice that has accumulated in the bowl.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, set a kettle or pot of water to boil.
- Increase heat under the stockpot to high, add boiling water, the two chicken breasts you've set aside; salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Bring back to barely simmer, cover until breasts are cooked, about 20 minutes. By now the dark broth will be extra rich and flavorful.
- Remove the breasts from the pot and set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and shred the breast meat from the bones. Discard breast skin and bones.
- Strain broth into a separate pot and discard the solids. All of the goodness has been cooked from the rest of the chicken (dark meat, skin and bones), so you are not being wasteful. Skim fat for later use in other recipes or discard. Return the clear broth to the pot with the shredded chicken. Bring back to boil.
- In a small skillet, sauté the chopped carrot and chopped celery in 1 tablespoon of oil. Add to the pot along with the egg noodles and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust with salt and pepper as necessary and serve. Serves 6 to 8.
- To your health!
- This recipe does not convert well for Instant Pot.
- The secret to success with this recipe is to really brown the chicken during the saute process. You need high heat to accomplish this. In fact, you want to get this as hot and brown as possible without burning. Consider a splatter guard for the pot to prevent splattering your entire cooktop or kitchen with chicken fat!
- Great Reader Tip: You can skip all the sauteing and browning when you pick up a rotisserie chicken from Costco, Walmart, or other supermarkets. Follow instructions otherwise for cutting it up, simmering, and so forth. Adjust seasonings as desired. Thank you, Linda R.
I take my leftover rotisserie chicken. Put in crockpot on low. Put seasoning and chicken broth in the crockpot. One cup at the most. Depending on your crockpot. In about two hours or so the chicken has fallen off the bones. And the chicken is just great.
For my chicken soup, granted, probably not going to be done in 50 min., I prefer to use a leg quarter and boil it until it is falling off the bone. I really have no use for chicken breast. I throw in a few bouillon cubes and extra water, then the other soup ingredients. A medium potato, diced, rice, a cup maybe of extra thin noodles, carrots and celery diced and a Tablespoon of dried diced onion or a couple tsp. onion powder.
This is how I make stock if I’m not ready to enjoy soup right away. I use rotisserie chickens that I buy for $4.99 at Costco or BJs. I usually only eat the breast meat, so I save the rest of the chicken in my freezer until I’m ready to make stock.. I cook the chicken along with carrots, onion, celery (including leaves), salt, pepper and a bay leaf or two in my stock pot and simmer for a few hours. I strain out the carcass and veggies, and then let the stock simmer gently for a while until it is greatly reduced in volume (usually to a volume of a cup or two). You’ve got to be very careful you don’t burn the pot! I then let it cool, and pour the stock into 2 small containers and put into your refrigerator overnight. Then you can skim off any fat that has accumulated off the top. I seal the containers and put them into a heavy duty freezer bag in the freezer. Now I have my own stock ready to use whenever I want a fresh pot of soup—just add water to reconstitute, then veggies, beans , noodles, matzoh balls or whatever you’d like to taste.
Great Article. Wishing you all the best.
I’ve been making this recipe for years. I too use the rotisserie chicken. I normally just use the breast after removing the legs, wings and thighs. I submerge the chicken breast with all of the meat in water in a 1 gallon pot and cook for an afternoon. Crock pot would work fine. An hour before it is done I bone the chicken and I add a bag of carrots (sorry, I hope they are still nutritious), a cup or more of cut up celery,( I put the leaves of the stalks in too for flavor along with fresh parsley) plus onion and garlic powder. Oh, I also add Better than Bouillon to taste. This soup is always best the next day after removing fat on top. I now measure colds by the number of gallons of soup I need to recuperate!!!!!
I’ve lost track of the Dark Meat … is it discarded when you strain the broth and discard the solids?
Thank you for all the Tips / Hints / Ideas you share with us!
Merry Christmas! Robin
I was wondering also, what happened to the dark meat?
I am anxious to try this recipe! Thank you!
A friend ‘shortcuts’ this process by using a whole roasted chicken from the grocery store!
What a brilliant idea! Going to try this for sure, Linda. Thanks!