This versatile chicken soup with a yummy homemade green sauce works for picky eaters, spicy food lovers and those who are gluten-free.
Looking for an easy, flexible, healthy soup recipe? This delicious chicken soup is perfect for pleasing both picky and adventurous eaters at the same time. Plus, the healthy chicken soup recipe is versatile and can be made with what you have on hand.Jump to Recipe
As I’m writing this, we are all staying inside due to the shelter in place orders. Many of us are a bit perplexed trying to figure out what to feed our families because we can’t shop in the same way as usual. This recipe will work for you!
What do I mean by flexible? It will work whether you have time to go get a rotisserie chicken or you have uncooked chicken in the fridge or you forgot to thaw something for dinner tonight and your chicken is still in the freezer as you’re reading this.
What’s in your fridge? Whether you have kale or chard or cabbage (or maybe you have some in the freezer) it’s fine, or just skip the greens. Do you have fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro? Or maybe you just have some dried herbs in the pantry? That’s okay! I’ve got tips to make it work.
And do you want classic chicken noodle soup? Then make it that way. Any noodles will work…pasta, gluten-free pasta, egg noodles…that’s fine. You could even throw some cooked rice in at the end if that is what you have.
Or are you trying to avoid grains, or you just don’t have any right now? Do you have potatoes? Because that is yummy, too! If you are eating Whole30 or Paleo you can skip the grains in the noodles and do potatoes instead (the new protocols for both allow potatoes). Or if you don’t want any starches, that’s fine…just increase the veggies and chicken and skip the starch.
This is a really forgiving recipe. As long as you have some chicken and veggies and some of the spices, it will be tasty!
So let’s jump in!
How to make the chicken soup:
Chicken and broth:
All right, first let’s talk chicken. My inspiration for this recipe comes from two different delicious chicken soup recipes that I’ve made before, Tyler Florence’s Chicken Noodle Soup and Rachael Ray’s Spiced Winter Chicken Soup. I love both of these originals, so I figured out a way to combine them in a flexible way to make my whole family happy!
Both of these recipes call for cooked shredded chicken. Sure, if you can go out and get a rotisserie chicken that would be delicious and easy. But right now, most of us are trying to stay inside and probably don’t want to run out to get one or two things at the store. And likely you have some frozen chicken in your freezer. If you happen to have a whole raw chicken or a bunch of bone-in chicken and lots of time on your hands, you can use Tyler’s recipe for making your own chicken stock, which will also give you the benefit of cooking the chicken. It takes about two extra hours to make the stock. So if you’re reading this early in the day, or planning ahead, go for it!
If you are starting with raw chicken, go ahead and get it out and put it in a pan on the stove. Even the amount of chicken here is flexible. I would say 2 pounds is a good amount, but if you have less or more that’s fine, it will just change the consistency of your soup.
Cover the chicken with some stock or broth. If you have bouillon cubes, powder, or paste, that’s fine, use that and add water. Add enough to submerge the chicken. If you don’t have quite enough broth, just add some salt and pepper and even some poultry seasoning if you have it along with the water. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. If you are starting with frozen chicken you’ll just have to cook it longer. After the first 20 minutes, check it every ten minutes or so to see if it’s cooked through.
And like I said, whether you have homemade stock, broth, bouillon – any of it is fine. My favorite is called “Better than Bouillon” and is a scoopable paste that you mix with water. I like the low-sodium organic version, but the other versions are delicious, too. Once you open it you keep it in the fridge. Just mix one teaspoon per cup of water. It’s a lot cheaper than buying broth all the time and the quality is really good. It’s also really handy when you are making a recipe that just calls for one cup of broth:
Veggies and noodles:
So at the beginning, we are making a basic chicken soup. It can be a traditional chicken noodle soup like Tyler’s, which is what many little kids would find pleasing. My daughter really likes it that way.
This chicken soup recipe starts with a basic mirepoix: celery, carrots, and onion. Chop ’em up, throw them in some oil. Olive oil or avocado oil are the best choices, but butter or ghee would be fine if that’s what you have. Please don’t use canola or corn oil – read my article on healthy fats if you’d like to know why.
If you don’t have yellow onion, use any onion, or leeks, or shallots. Or skip it and throw in some onion powder with the other spices. If you have people in your family who won’t eat onions, use the onion powder instead since they won’t see it.
After those veggies cook a few minutes, add your garlic. You can chop it, mince it, or use a garlic press. Careful that your heat isn’t too hot. If you burn the garlic it will taste bitter. If you don’t have fresh garlic, add some garlic powder.
My recipe also says to add some thyme and turmeric at this point. Fresh thyme is lovely, dried thyme is just fine. Or poultry seasoning would be a good substitute if you have it. I add turmeric because of its healthy anti-inflammatory properties. It also adds a pretty yellow hue to your soup (as you can see in my pictures). If you don’t have it – no problem – skip it.
Once the veggies soften, add the broth and if you are using potatoes, add them in here. Little potatoes (any color) are easy and can just be chopped in bite-sized pieces. The smaller you cut them, the quicker they’ll cook. Or if you have big baking potatoes, that’s okay. Peel them first and then chop and drop them in. They get mushy if they cook too long though, so keep an eye on them.
After that cooks awhile, you can add the noodles. Any kind of pasta or noodles is fine. Here is one of my family’s gluten-free favorites:
After the noodles cook, you will add the greens to increase the healthiness! If you have a picky eater who won’t eat green stuff, you can cook the greens on the side and add to each serving. I cooked mine in the same broth that I’d already cooked the chicken in. I had collard greens from my Farm Fresh to You box, so I used that. Lots of other greens would have been good choices: kale, chard, escarole, and napa cabbage are all good. I wouldn’t do spinach as its strong taste would really change the taste of the soup overall.
If you’d be interested in a farm box, and you happen to live in California, check out Farm Fresh to You and use my promo code KARE2218 to get $15 off your first box. I’ve been getting Farm Fresh to You boxes each week during this quarantine and it’s been so helpful. I get my veggies as well as milk, cream, eggs, and other things that I custom pick.
All right. If you’ve gotten this far, you have a delicious pot of healthy chicken soup! You can stop here if you want…Enjoy!!! Or if you want to kick things up for adventurous eaters, read on!
Homemade Green Sauce Topping
Here is the awesome idea I got from Rachael Ray. Serve your soup with a homemade zesty, spicy, delicious green sauce to add interest and excitement for the adventurous eaters in your house.
Since we are all kinda locked up together at the moment, we need to eat all of our meals together. If you are trying to please everyone at once (hello, motherhood!) then you might like some help.
Whip up some of this amazing green sauce filled with herbs, jalapenos, spices, and lime. Yum! Or as Rachael Ray would say, “Yum-O!”
Rachael Ray’s Spiced Winter Soup is great in its original form, but she mixes ginger, cardamom, and other yummy things right into the main soup. My daughter won’t eat that. So my idea is to make basic homemade chicken soup that some people in your family can eat as-is, and mix the yummy spices originally found in Rachael’s soup into the green sauce topping.
You need a bunch of fresh herbs for this. Her chicken soup calls for specific amounts of each type. But since you might not be able to find them all, I’m telling you to just do a nice mix of parsley, cilantro, and/or mint in the amounts you have. If you don’t have any fresh herbs, I would decrease the amounts of lime juice and olive oil and throw in some dried herbs, maybe a tablespoon or two of dried parsley.
The recipe calls for fresh jalapenos. If you don’t have those, serranos or poblanos would work. You also could try marinated jalapeno slices. If you go that route, I would use just a small amount and decrease the lime juice so it doesn’t get too sour.
Fresh garlic and fresh ginger also go into the sauce. I buy frozen ginger from Trader Joe’s. It comes in a little box with individual boxes of pre-measured teaspoons of ginger. So handy! They also sell garlic that way, but I haven’t tried it. Fresh garlic and ginger are definitely best, but you could forego it or use dried if that’s all you have.
The cumin, cardamom, caraway, and coriander are all really nice in this dish. But any of them could be skipped if you don’t have them.
Whiz all that up in the food processor and you are good to go! If you happen to live near a Trader Joe’s, you could buy some of their Zhoug sauce to use instead – it is very similar to this homemade green sauce.
Ladle your soup into bowls and serve the green sauce on the side! I hope you find this recipe delicious and do-able. I’d love to hear in the comments below how it turned out!
The Best Homemade Chicken Soup – 2 Ways
- food processor
- 1 chicken This can be pre-cooked shredded chicken or a whole raw chicken, or the equivelant amount of chicken pieces, preferably bone-in.
- 1 qt. chicken stock or broth to cook the chicken in if not using pre-cooked chicken
- 2 Tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 large onion, chopped or shallots or leeks
- 3 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and chopped
- 3 large carrots peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- 8-10 small or baby potatoes, diced optional – also could use 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced.
- 1 tsp dried thyme or 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 2-3 quarts chicken stock or broth or equivelant amount of water and chicken boullion
- 8 oz dried pasta optional – wheat or gluten-free is fine
- 1 bunch greens collards, kale, escarole, chard, or napa cabbage, chopped
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped or 2 Tbsp. dried parsley
- salt and pepper
Homemade Green Sauce
- 2-3 bunches fresh herbs combine cilantro, parsley (curly or flat), and mint, coarsley chopped
- 1-2 jalepeno peppers stemmed, seeded if desired, and coarsley chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 3 Tbsp lime juice or juice of 2 limes
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- If you are starting with raw chicken, place it in a pan along with a quart of chicken broth. Add more broth or water so that chicken is covered. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20-30 minutes depending on how big the pieces are and whether they are fresh or frozen.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove to a plate, reserving the broth. When chicken is coole enoug to handle, remove skin and bones and shred chicken.
- If you are starting with pre-cooked bone-in chicken, such as a rotisserie chicken, remove the skin and bones. Shred chicken.
- Place a soup pot over medium heat and add oil.
- Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and turmeric. Continue cooking and stirring until vegetables are softened but not browned, another 2-3 minutes.
- Add chicken broth (and potatoes, if using). Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.
- Add pasta, if using. Simmer another 10 minutes.
- Add chicken and greens. Simmer another 5-10 minutes until heated through and potato and/or pasta is tender.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and chopped parsley.
Homemade Green Sauce
- Combine all green sauce ingredients in food processor
- Pulse and process until combined
- Transfer sauce to a bowl and serve alongside soup.
Need more healthy dinner recipes? Try these: