Homemade Nourishing Chicken Soup from Scratch! (Using a Whole Chicken)
This outrageously delicious Homemade Nourishing Chicken Soup has it all: a rich soul-satisfying broth, fall off the bone chicken, and delicate noodles. Warm up with a bowl of gorgeous, golden chicken noodle soup that has a slew of fans and die-hard devotees.
Everyone needs a GREAT chicken soup recipe, here is mine and I really hope it becomes a staple in your life too!
If you were to ask me what I feel like eating any time of any day at any time of the year 99.9% of the time my answer will be, a big bowl of soup.
It is what I crave, what makes me feel “right”, what makes my body feel good. This homemade nourishing chicken soup is the soup recipe that started it all. This is my family's soup recipe. Made by my grandmother, and my great-grandmother, and my great-great-grandmother. It is not complicated but requires patience. It is not fussy, yet supremely flavorful and definitively curative. It has been made in my family hundreds and hundreds of times and I hope by sharing it it will be made hundreds and hundreds more.
Let's get right to it!
WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
Good chicken soup has curative powers- This is not a wives’ tale!
You can make and freeze batches of this soup.
This recipe shows you how to make a good broth which can be used for many culinary purposes.
Let's Get Cooking!
INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR CHICKEN SOUP -STARTING WITH A WHOLE CHICKEN.
Detailed measurements and ingredients can be found within the recipe card at the end of this post.
Organic Whole Chicken– You really want the best quality organic chicken to make a nourishing soup. The collagen, bones and meat fortify the broth. It is best for this recipe to use a whole chicken. Alternatively, you can use 4-5 pounds of chicken parts which is the typical size range of a whole chicken.
Carrots– Carrots add a sweetness to this chicken soup so you want carrots that have some flavor. Farmers' market carrots that are pulled from the soil are sweeter and more nutrient-dense. Second to that variety, I would recommend a good organic bag of carrots. Not the finger-shaped variety that you dip in hummus, the real “need-to-peel” variety, bonus… no need for peeling in this soup!
Celery– A family trick was to lob off the bottom quarter of the celery bunch and use that in the soup. The rest then was reserved for other dishes. I think they wanted to use up everything and that is to be admired. We called this the “butt of the celery”.
Onion and Garlic– The onions go in skin on so you want an onion with a nice golden skin. I prefer to buy local garlic for soup, which tends to be fresher and more pungent. You can always just use grocery store onions and garlic but look for organic produce. You do not want pesticides in your nourishing soup.
Cabbage– Standard green cabbage is best and gives the broth a wonderful flavor. Do not use purple cabbage it will alter the color of the soup, and you may end up with a Bridget Jones style blue soup disaster 🙂
Parsley– My grandmother chopped off the stems and used them in soup so that the leaves could be used in other recipes. In my version, the whole bunch goes in but feel free to use just stems and reserve the leaves for other dishes. The stems have lots of flavor.
Sweet Paprika– Double check your paprika and make sure that it is not the hot or smoked paprika variety. Ideally, you want Sweet Hungarian Paprika. Szeged is my preferred brand used by generations of my Hungarian family. Most grocery stores sell it or you can purchase it online here.
Pastina – This is where my Hungarian and Italian heritage merge into one harmonious, perfect, bowl of soup 🙂 Pastina is an Italian variety of pasta meaning “little pasta”. This is our favorite noodle to use for chicken soup, unless we are able to find the coveted “Stelline” pasta (little stars). Truly you can use any type of pasta or rice that you like. Egg noodles are wonderfully silky and orzo is another family favorite. You can also use gluten-free or brown rice noodles, or skip the noodles all together.
TOOLS YOU WILL USE:
HOW TO MAKE ONE-POT CHICKEN SOUP FROM SCRATCH
Step One: Combine all soup ingredients in a large soup pot, starting with chicken and ending with parsley. Fill with water to fully submerge the chicken.
Step Two: Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours or until chicken is tender and cooked through and broth is flavorful.
Step Three: Remove chicken (it will fall apart, that's ok!) from pot and set aside.
Step Four: Set a large fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl and strain the broth. Remove carrots and set them aside. Smoosh all of the vegetables with a wooden spoon through the sieve to extract as much flavor as possible.
Step Five: Alternatively, use a “stock sock” or a “nut bag” or just a clean dish towel, add veggies to your preferred tool and squeeze the vegetables over the stock bowl to extract all the nutrients and flavor.
Step Six: Put soup together: shred chicken from bone and add to stock. Slice carrots and add to stock, Add Broth and chicken to individual soup bowls. Top with additional parsley.
How to Prep a Whole Chicken:
To prep a whole chicken for the soup pot you will want to first remove the packaging and rinse the chicken with water. (Rinsing is optional but I like to do it.)
Remove the bag of innards which you will find in the inner cavity of the chicken. You may also want to rinse the cavity of the chicken.
Look for any pop thermometers or metal tags on the body of the chicken and remove those as well. Kitchen shears or scissors work well for this step.
Your chicken is now ready for the soup pot.
FAQ AND EXPERT TIPS TO MAKE PERFECT NOURISHING CHICKEN SOUP!
Is this Chicken Soup Keto Friendly?
Here is how to make this recipe keto-friendly. Omit the pasta from the recipe. You can use spiralized zucchini noodles instead. Substitute a keto-friendly vegetable for the carrots in this recipe. Red bell pepper or tomato, which are keto-approved, will add sweetness to the broth and work as a substitute for the carrots.
Do you have to add noodles to this soup?
No, the noodles in this soup are optional. If you love them and can tolerate gluten, the noodles are certainly delicious and nostalgic but feel free to omit or substitute something else for the noodles. Gluten-free options abound in the store; you can use gf noodles in the soup as a substitution. Also, for those that love the spiralizer you can absolutely put zucchini noodles in this soup.
How long is homemade chicken soup good for?
Chicken soup will keep in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to seven days. After that point, you will want to freeze the soup to keep it fresh. If you use noodles in the soup, store them separately so that they will not swell and soak up all the broth. That goes for refrigerator or freezer storage.
How can I add more flavor to my chicken soup?
Soup needs SALT! Please do not be afraid to use salt in this recipe. Start with a good amount of salt (I typically use 1-2 tbsp), and don't skimp on the fresh parsley and all the aromatic vegetables and spices!
If you feel like your soup is a bit bland you can amp up the flavor with a small squeeze of lemon juice, acid can do wonders to lift flavor and give the illusion of salty.
How to freeze your whole chicken soup?
Homemade chicken soup freezes beautifully. If you can, freeze the soup without the noodles. The best practice is to boil fresh pasta when you thaw and reheat the soup. Place the soup in freezer containers, bags, or ice cube trays and freeze until firm. The soup will keep in the freezer for up to three months,
How to store and reheat chicken soup?
Store chicken soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Reheat the soup over medium heat until warmed through. You do not want to rapid boil the soup. Instead, heat it gently.
Making whole chicken soup from scratch is easy and delicious. Here are my best recipe tips:
- Buy a beautiful organic chicken for making soup, this will ensure that your broth is nourishing and clean.
- Garnishing chicken soup with fresh herbs is a fantastic flavor enhancer. Parsley is used in this recipe but dill or tarragon are absolutely fantastic as well.
- Pack your soup pot with a plethora of colorful vegetables, the more nutrient-dense the ingredients that go into the pot, the more nutrient-dense the soup.
- Soup is a wonderful way to care for yourself and your family. Enjoy this family recipe and don't tell my Mom that I shared it with you! 😉
DIETARY MODIFICATIONS FOR THIS RECIPE:
- Gluten-Free – Use gluten-free noodles or rice in the soup.
- Low Fodmap- Use scallions rather than onion and garlic.
- Whole 30 – Omit pasta from the recipe. You can use spiralized zucchini noodles instead.
- Paleo – Omit the pasta from the recipe. You can use spiralized zucchini noodles instead.
- Keto – Omit the pasta from the recipe. You can use spiralized zucchini noodles instead. Substitute a keto-friendly vegetable for the carrots in this recipe. Red bell pepper or tomato, which are keto-approved, will add sweetness to the broth and work as a substitute for the carrots.
I can’t wait for you to try this Homemade Nourishing Chicken Soup Recipe! When you make it, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @abrapappa or use the hashtag #abraskitchen so I can feature your photo!
If you’ve tried this recipe, don’t forget to rate and leave a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!
MORE SOUP RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE!
Homemade Nourishing Chicken Soup
- 1 whole chicken, preferably organic (4-5 lbs.)
- 1 pound carrots, cut in half
- 1/4 piece celery bunch, remove the lower 1/4 of the celery bunch for the soup and reserve the rest for other uses
- 2 yellow onion, cut into quarters
- 1 head garlic, cut in half
- 1/4 small head of cabbage, cut in half
- 2 bay leaves
- 10-15 whole black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- water to cover chicken
- Cooked noodles pastina is my favorite but any pasta noodle will do
- Remove the innards from chicken and rinse the cavity. Rinse the body of the chicken as well. Place the whole chicken in the soup pot. Quarter onions leaving the skins on. Place in the soup pot. Cut carrots into chunks and place in the pot. *no need to peel* Cut off the whole base of a bunch of celery. Do this by measuring 4-5 inches from the bottom of the bunch and cut from that place. Put the bottom piece in the pot. Place a whole bunch of freshly rinsed parsley in the pot. Cut a head of garlic in half with the skins on and place both pieces in the pot. Add in cabbage, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, and paprika. Fill the pot with spring water 2/3 full. Leaving room in the last 1/3 of the pot. Make sure the chicken is fully submerged.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 1-2 hours or until chicken is tender and cooked through and broth is flavorful. You test the chicken by pulling a piece off of the bone, it should fall right off the bone, be super tender and no longer pink. This typically takes 90 minutes but if your chicken is closer to 5 lbs. it may tke 2 hours.
- Remove the pot from the heat and allow the soup to cool down slightly. Remove the chicken from the pot with tongs and place in its own container. Shred the chicken that you would like in your soup and set aside. Place a strainer over a large bowl and carefully pour broth with all the vegetables through the strainer. Remove the larger pieces of carrots and set aside to slice into your soup. If you'd like, reserve some cooked cabbage to chop into your soup. Smoosh all of the remaining vegetables with a wooden spoon to extract as much flavor as possible. I take my time to really smash the garlic through the strainer which will create a beautiful garlic paste to stir into the soup. Discard the smooshed vegetables in the strainer. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning before pouring into the soup terrine.
- Put soup together: Shred chicken from bone and add to stock then slice carrots and add to stock. Add noodles or rice to individual soup bowls. Top with additional parsley.
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