Hearty Chicken Soup Recipe – A Timeless Classic

In the heart of every home kitchen thrives, the essence of comfort and wholesomeness. We invite you to discover a treasure of nourishment that fills your bowl and heart in equal measure – a hearty chicken soup recipe

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hearty chicken soup

Like a soothing melody, this recipe sings of love and warmth, whispered through the aroma of tender chicken simmering along side fresh vegetables. Whether you crave a nostalgic homage to grandma’s kitchen or seek a refreshing take on a classic staple, each spoonful unravels the tale of a culinary masterpiece. 

In every drop, you’ll find the authentic richness and depth that only hours of patient simmering can achieve. As you immerse in this experience, be prepared to reconnect with the flavors of home, turning each meal into a celebration of simplicity and taste. 

Embark on a journey, not just to fill your stomach but to nurture your soul, with this symphony of chicken soup.

What Is A Hearty Chicken Soup Recipe?

A hearty chicken soup recipe combines the robustness of slow-cooked chicken, the freshness of vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions, and the comfort of a rich, flavorful broth. The recipe starts with sautéing the vegetables until tender, then adding diced chicken and broth. 

The mixture simmers until the chicken is tender and the flavors meld together. Herbs such as thyme and bay leaves add aromatic depth. Sometimes, noodles or rice are added for extra heartiness. The result is a comforting, nourishing meal, perfect for any day.

History Of Hearty Chicken Soup Recipe

Hearty chicken soup’s history spans time and cultures, tracing its roots back to ancient civilizations. Each culture imparts its unique spin, yet the core elements remain: chicken, vegetables, and broth, recognized globally as comfort food. 

In ancient Greece, it was believed to have healing properties, a notion supported by Maimonides, a 12th-century Jewish philosopher. Moving into the 19th century, it became a staple in American households after the mass production of canned soup. 

Today, whether it’s a bowl of Jewish Matzah Ball soup, Chinese Ginseng Chicken soup, or American style with noodles, the hearty chicken soup recipe remains a beloved, universal dish.

Interesting Facts About Hearty Chicken Soup Recipe

  • Universal Appeal: Chicken soup recipes are almost universal and found in nearly every culture’s cuisine. Each region lends its unique touch, such as adding matzah balls in Jewish cuisine or using ginseng and jujube in Korean samgyetang.
  • Healing Properties: The chicken soup has been hailed as a cure for the common cold for centuries. While it’s not a medical cure, the warm broth helps soothe sore throats, and the steam can alleviate congestion.
  • Canned Revolution: The first ready-to-eat chicken soup was introduced by Campbell Soup Company in the late 19th century, transforming it into a pantry staple worldwide.
  • Psychological Comfort: Beyond its physical benefits, chicken soup is often associated with comfort and care. Research shows that even the mere association of chicken soup with one’s childhood can boost its healing effects.
  • Ingredient Flexibility: A hearty chicken soup recipe is very adaptable. Different vegetables, grains, or pasta can be added to adjust the taste and texture, making it a versatile dish.

What Makes Hearty Chicken Soup Recipe Special?

What makes a hearty chicken soup recipe special lies in its simplicity and the profound depth of flavor achievable with such modest ingredients. The recipe strikes a delicate balance between the slow-simmered chicken’s comforting richness, the vegetables’ bright freshness, and the soothing warmth of a well-seasoned broth. 

It’s a recipe that can be easily adapted to personal tastes, dietary needs, or what ingredients are on hand, embodying the versatility of home cooking. Moreover, its reputation as a “cure-all” soup adds a layer of nostalgia and tradition. 

From the cold winter nights to times of sickness, it’s more than just a soup; it’s a bowl of comfort, a symbol of care, love, and warmth, making it special in its own unique, hearty way.

hearty chicken soup

Ingredients List

IngredientQuantity
1 (2 to 3 pound) whole chicken1
Carrots, chopped5
Onions, chopped2
Celery stalks with leaves, minced3
Chicken bouillon cubes2
Red bell pepper, diced1
Sweet corn (15 ounce can)1
Barley (pearled or hulled)3/4 cup

Ingredient Tips 

  • Chicken: Opt for bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces for maximum flavor. The bones and skin add depth to the broth. If you prefer, you can remove the skin and bones before serving.
  • Vegetables: Fresh vegetables are best for this soup. Standard ones are onions, carrots, and celery, but feel free to add others like bell peppers, peas, or corn for added nutrition and flavor.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs such as thyme, parsley, and bay leaves impart a beautiful aroma. Dried herbs can be used in lesser quantities if fresh herbs aren’t available.
  • Broth: Homemade chicken broth is the best for a rich, hearty soup. However, if time or resources are a constraint, store-bought low-sodium chicken broth works well.
  • Noodles/Rice: If you plan to add noodles or rice, cook them separately to prevent them from soaking up too much broth and becoming soggy.
  • Seasoning: Taste your soup as you cook and adjust the seasoning as necessary. A well-seasoned soup makes all the difference.
  • Oil: Using a good quality olive oil or butter for sautéing the vegetables can greatly enhance the flavor

Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?

  • Keto: Skip the traditional grains and noodles. You can add more non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, or zucchini and consider using cream to make the soup thicker and more satisfying.
  • Paleo: Ensure all the ingredients you use are paleo-approved. For example, use ghee for sautéing instead of butter, and replace noodles with spiralized vegetables or paleo-friendly noodles.
  • Gluten-Free: Replace traditional pasta with gluten-free alternatives, such as rice noodles, quinoa, or even gluten-free pasta. Check the broth labels and any other additions to ensure they’re gluten-free.
  • Whole30: This diet eliminates sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy. A simple chicken soup with vegetables, herbs, and spices, cooked in homemade chicken broth, aligns perfectly with Whole30 guidelines. Avoid noodles or replace them with vegetable spirals.
  • Vegetarian: Substitute chicken with hearty vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash, or mushrooms. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Vegan: Besides following the vegetarian recommendations, substitute dairy with plant-based alternatives. Consider adding beans, lentils, or tofu for the’ meaty’ texture.
hearty chicken soup

Recipe Directions 

  • Clean chicken, remove giblets and excess skin.
  • Crush the chicken’s backbone and crack the legs at the joints—place in a large pot.
  • Grate 2 carrots, 1 onion, and all celery in a food processor and add to the pot.
  • Add the pot’s remaining carrots, onions, bouillon cubes, and red bell pepper.
  • Cover with water, boil for 5 minutes, then simmer for one hour.
  • Add barley, and cook for another hour.
  • Remove chicken and giblets, pull meat from chicken, dice, and return to pot.
  • Add sweet corn. Serve immediately or store for later use.
hearty chicken soup

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings 

Variations

  • For a creamier soup, stir in some heavy cream or coconut milk towards the end of the cooking process.
  • Add a spicy kick with a sprinkle of red chili flakes or hot sauce.
  • Consider adding beans or lentils for a hearty, protein-rich twist.

Add-Ons

  • For added nutrition, stir in fresh greens like spinach or kale in the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Boost the flavor profile with a handful of fresh herbs such as dill, basil, or parsley.
  • Add diced potatoes or sweet potatoes for a more filling soup.

Toppings

  • Garnish with freshly chopped green onions or chives for a pop of color and freshness.
  • A squeeze of lemon juice just before serving can brighten the flavors.
  • A sprinkling of grated Parmesan or a dollop of Greek yogurt can add a lovely finishing touch.
  • Don’t forget the classic soup companion – a slice of crusty bread or warm rolls for dipping.

Scaling The Recipe 

Scaling Up

  • If you want to double the recipe, double all the ingredients. If your pot is large enough, this should not present any problems. However, remember that more volume may increase the cooking time slightly, so ensure that your chicken is thoroughly cooked and your vegetables are tender.

Scaling Down

  • If you want to make less soup, you can halve the ingredients. This is particularly easy with soup because it does not rely on exact proportions as baking does. Reduce the cooking time accordingly, ensuring the chicken is still fully cooked and safe to eat.

What Is Used For Garnishing?

  • Fresh Herbs: Parsley, chives, or dill can be finely chopped and sprinkled over the top of the soup just before serving for a fresh flavor and color.
  • Green Onions: Sliced green onions can add a slight crunch and mild onion flavor.
  • Lemon Zest or Wedges: A bit of lemon zest can add brightness to the soup, or a small wedge of lemon on the side allows guests to add a spritz of citrus if desired.
  • Cheese: A grated Parmesan or Romano cheese sprinkle can add a nice savory touch.
  • Croutons: Homemade or store-bought croutons can provide a contrasting crunch.
  • Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt: A small dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt can provide a creamy, tangy contrast to the savory soup.
hearty chicken soup

Can I Make The Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

Slow Cooker 

  • Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker except for the barley and sweet corn.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  • Remove the chicken, debone, dice it an hour before serving, and return it to the slow cooker with barley and sweet corn.
  • Let it cook for the remaining hour and serve.

Instant Pot

  • Use the sauté function to cook the vegetables until tender.
  • Add the chicken, water, bouillon cubes, and red bell pepper. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
  • Release pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release.
  • Remove the chicken, debone and dice it, and return it to the pot.
  • Add the barley and sweet corn, and cook on the soup setting for 15 minutes. Quick release and serve.

Can I Use Store Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?

You can use store-bought broth for your hearty chicken soup, especially if you’re short on time. However, homemade broth typically offers a richer, deeper flavor because you have complete control over the ingredients and can simmer it for a long time to extract as much flavor as possible.

Store-bought broth can be a great shortcut, and plenty of high-quality options are available. If using store-bought, look for a low-sodium version. This gives you more control over the salt content in your soup.

Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For The Soup?

  • Meat: While chicken is traditional, you could also use turkey, beef, or pork. Adjust the cooking time to ensure the meat is cooked through.
  • Fish: Fish or shellfish could also work in a hearty soup. Salmon, cod, or shrimp would all be great additions. Add these towards the end of cooking to avoid overcooking them.
  • Pasta: Any small pasta shape works well in soup. Try orzo, ditalini, or small shells. You could even use gluten-free or whole-grain pasta.
  • Vegetables: Feel free to experiment with different vegetables. Root vegetables like parsnips, turnips, or sweet potatoes would be delicious. You could also add green vegetables like spinach or kale towards the end of cooking.
hearty chicken soup

Success Tips – Tips And Tricks For Making The Recipe 

Allow the Hearty Chicken Soup to Simmer. The longer it cooks, the richer the flavors become. Embrace the aroma and let it infuse your kitchen, making the final result remarkable. Your taste buds will thank you for your patience.

Prepping Tips

  • Ingredients: Prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking. Chop your vegetables uniformly to ensure even cooking.
  • Freshness: Fresh ingredients are the key to a flavorful soup. Fresh herbs, in particular, can greatly enhance the taste.
  • Chicken: Consider browning the chicken before adding it to the soup for a richer flavor.

Cooking Tips

  • Simmer, don’t boil: Simmering the soup helps develop the flavors better. Boiling may overcook the ingredients, especially the vegetables.
  • Seasoning: Season in layers. Start with a little, taste and adjust as you go along. Remember, you can always add more salt or spices, but you can’t remove them.
  • Fat: Don’t skim off all the fat. Some fat is necessary to carry the flavor of the soup.
hearty chicken soup

Nutritional Values 

Discover the nutritional powerhouse of soups! These flavorful bowls offer a nourishing way to boost your health while indulging in deliciousness packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

What Are The Total Calories In The Soup?

A single serving (1 cup) of chicken soup made from scratch could have around 100-200 calories. This is based on the assumption that the soup includes chicken, a mix of vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, bell peppers, a small amount of oil or butter, and spices. 

Dietary Restrictions Of The Soup

  • Gluten-Free: As long as the bouillon cubes and barley are gluten-free, this soup should suit a gluten-free diet. Some bouillon cubes and barley may contain gluten, so check the labels.
  • Dairy-Free: This soup recipe doesn’t call for any dairy products, so it should be suitable for those on a dairy-free diet.
  • Nut-Free: This soup is nut-free, making it ideal for those with nut allergies.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: As it stands, this soup is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans because it contains chicken. However, you could make a vegetarian or vegan version using vegetable broth and replace the chicken with more vegetables or plant-based protein like tofu or chickpeas.
  • Low Carb/Keto: This soup may not be suitable for those on a low-carb or keto diet due to the presence of carrots, corn, and barley. However, you could make a low-carb version by omitting these ingredients, adding more low-carb vegetables, and increasing the amount of chicken.

Health Benefits Of The Soup

  • Boosts Immunity: Chicken is a rich source of vitamin B6, which is crucial for forming new and healthy red blood cells. Stock made from bones also has immune-boosting benefits.
  • Rich in Protein: Chicken provides high-quality protein, which is essential for body repair, muscle growth, and maintaining a strong immune function.
  • Hydrating: The liquid content of the soup can contribute to your daily fluid intake, which is vital for maintaining hydration.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Vegetables in the soup add fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. The barley also contributes heart-healthy fiber and certain minerals like selenium and manganese.
  • Comforting: Beyond the physical health benefits, a warm bowl of hearty chicken soup can be psychologically comforting. Its association with care during illness makes it a comfort food that can improve mood and overall well-being.

Nutrition Table 

Nutrition Table

How Can I Make The Soup Lower In Sodium? 

  • Broth: Start with a low-sodium or sodium-free broth. Many grocery stores carry these options, which can dramatically reduce the overall sodium content.
  • Bouillon Cubes: Regular bouillon cubes can contain a high amount of sodium. Look for reduced-sodium or sodium-free versions. If these aren’t available, consider using homemade stock.
  • Seasoning: Flavor your soup with herbs, spices, and other sodium-free seasonings. Garlic, pepper, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves all add depth and flavor without adding sodium.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Fresh vegetables and meats often have less sodium than their canned or processed counterparts. Stick to fresh ingredients as much as possible.
  • Taste as You Go: Before adding salt, taste your soup. The combination of ingredients often provides enough flavor that additional salt isn’t needed.

How Can I Make The Soup Lower In Sugar? 

  • Vegetables: Certain vegetables naturally contain more sugar than others. For instance, corn and carrots, while healthy, do contain natural sugars. You could use fewer or replace them with lower-sugar vegetables like spinach, zucchini, or bell peppers.
  • Broth/Stock: Some store-bought broths or bouillon cubes may contain added sugars. Check the labels and opt for brands, not include sugar in their ingredient list.
  • Add-ins: If you’re considering adding other ingredients to your soup, be aware of its sugar content. Some cured meats, sauces, or canned goods may contain added sugars.
hearty chicken soup

How To Serve The Soup At Its Best?

  • Serve Hot: Soup is best served hot. Reheat the soup gently on the stove if needed before serving.
  • Bowls: Use deep bowls to serve the soup. This not only keeps the soup hot for longer but also allows for easy consumption of both the broth and the chunky ingredients.
  • Garnish: Don’t forget to garnish just before serving. Fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon, a swirl of cream or yogurt, or some grated cheese can enhance your soup’s look and taste.
  • Sides: Depending on the time of day and occasion, serve the soup with a side of warm, crusty bread, a refreshing salad, or a hearty sandwich. You can also serve it as a starter course in a multi-course meal.
  • Spoons: Use large spoons that can easily scoop up broth and chunky ingredients.
  • Napkins: Place a cloth or paper napkin beside each bowl. Soup can be splashy, and a napkin is always handy.

Perfect Side Dishes To Complement Soup

  • Crusty Bread or Rolls: Fresh, warm bread is perfect for dipping into the soup and soaking up all the wonderful flavors. Consider a crusty baguette or a soft dinner roll.
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich: A classic pairing, the crunch and melted cheese contrast beautifully with a warm, brothy soup.
  • Green Salad: A light, crisp salad can provide a refreshing contrast to the hearty soup. Use a simple vinaigrette to dress mixed greens, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Seasonal roasted vegetables, lightly caramelized, can add an extra dimension of flavor to your meal.
  • Rice or Quinoa: If you want to make the meal even more filling, serve it with a side of cooked rice or quinoa.
  • Flatbread or Pita: These can be warmed and used to scoop up the soup or enjoyed on the side.
hearty chicken soup

How Long Can We Store The Soup?

  • Refrigerator: Once the soup has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to airtight containers and refrigerate. The soup should keep well for 3 to 4 days.
  • Freezer: If you want to store the soup longer, freezing is a great option. After cooling the soup, portion it into freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, leaving some space for expansion. Label with the date and freeze. The soup should keep well for 2 to 3 months. For the best quality, use frozen soup within this time frame, though it will remain safe to eat beyond this point if kept continuously frozen.
  • Reheating: When you’re ready to enjoy the soup, if it’s frozen, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight. Then, reheat gently on the stovetop, stirring occasionally, until it’s hot all through. If it’s been refrigerated, you can reheat it directly.

Can I Make The Soup In Advance?

Yes, making soup in advance is a great idea. Many soups, including this hearty chicken soup, benefit from being made beforehand. The flavors have a chance to meld and develop, often making the soup even more delicious a day or two after it’s initially cooked.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Cook the Soup: Follow your recipe to cook the soup. Allow it to cool slightly.
  • Store: Transfer the soup to an airtight container once it has cooled to room temperature.
  • Refrigerate or Freeze: If you plan on serving the soup within the next few days, you can store it in the refrigerator. If you want to make it more than a few days in advance, it’s better to freeze it.
  • Reheat: When ready to serve the soup, reheat it gently on the stovetop. If you’ve frozen the soup, it’s best to let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

What Can We Do With Leftovers?

  • Pasta Sauce: Shred leftover chicken and heat the soup until thickened. Toss with cooked pasta for a quick and comforting meal.
  • Rice Stir-In: Mix soup leftovers into cooked rice for an instant flavor boost. Add a bit of soy sauce for an Asian twist.
  • Pot Pie Filling: Use the soup as a filling for a quick and easy pot pie. Top with puff pastry and bake until golden.
  • Chicken Salad: Shred the leftover chicken and mix it with mayonnaise, herbs, and some chopped veggies for a tasty chicken salad.
  • Enchilada Filling: Use shredded chicken and veggies from the soup as enchilada filling. Add some cheese, roll in tortillas, and bake with enchilada sauce.
  • Soup Dumplings: Add more broth to the soup, simmer, and drop in the dumpling dough for a hearty soup.
hearty chicken soup

Special Tools/Equipment Needed 

  • Large Stockpot: An ample-sized stockpot is crucial for soup making, as it provides enough space for the ingredients to simmer and mingle freely.
  • Sharp Chef’s Knife: This is essential for cutting vegetables and meat. A good, sharp knife will make prep work safer and more efficient.
  • Cutting Board: A sturdy cutting board is necessary for chopping ingredients.
  • Food Processor: This isn’t essential, but it can make grating or chopping vegetables quicker and more uniform.
  • Tongs or Slotted Spoon: These can be useful for removing the chicken and giblets from the pot after cooking.
  • Ladle: For serving the soup.
  • Airtight Containers or Freezer Bags: If you plan to store leftovers or freeze them for future meals.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Use A Different Type Of Grain Instead Of Barley In My Soup?

Absolutely. While barley gives the soup a wonderful texture and a unique, nutty flavor, you could use plenty of other grains. Brown rice, quinoa, or farro would all make suitable substitutes. Remember that different grains may have different cooking times, so adjust accordingly.

If I Don’t Have A Food Processor, Can I Still Make This Soup?

Yes, a food processor is not required to make this soup. It is primarily used in this recipe to chop vegetables. If you don’t have one, use a sharp knife to chop the vegetables finely.

How Do I Know When The Chicken In My Soup Is Cooked Thoroughly?

Chicken is thoroughly cooked when it is no longer pink inside, and the juices run clear. Chicken should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). You can check this using a meat thermometer. However, the chicken is generally cooked well within the simmering time frame in a soup.

Is It Okay If My Soup Looks A Little Cloudy?

Yes, it is perfectly normal for chicken soup to look a little cloudy. This is often due to the small protein, fat, and vegetable particles released into the broth during cooking. It does not affect the quality or safety of the soup.

Why Do I Need To Skim The Soup While It’s Simmering?

Skimming the soup helps remove excess fat and impurities that float to the top, resulting in a clearer broth with a cleaner taste. While unnecessary, it is recommended for the best flavor and presentation.

Hearty Chicken Soup Recipe - A Timeless Classic

Hearty Chicken Soup Recipe – A Timeless Classic

5 from 5 votes
Recipe by Hanna Barnes Course: Soup Recipe
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

2

hours 

5

minutes
Calories

200

kcal

Brimming with flavors and bristling with nourishment, this hearty chicken soup is a comforting and wholesome delight. This soup is more than a meal; it’s a bowl of comfort that satisfies the stomach and soothes the soul.

Ingredients

  • 1 1 1 (2 to 3 pound) whole chicken

  • 5 5 Carrots, chopped

  • 2 2 Onions, chopped

  • 3 3 Celery stalks with leaves, minced

  • 2 2 Chicken bouillon cubes

  • 1 1 Red bell pepper, diced

  • 1 1 Sweet corn (15-ounce can)

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 Barley (pearled or hulled)

Step-By-Step Directions 

  • Begin by cleaning the chicken under fresh, cold running water. Carefully remove the giblets and as much excess skin from the bird as possible.
  • Apply pressure to the chicken’s backbone to crush the bones. Crack the legs at the joints to release the cartilage for extra flavor.
  • Transfer the crushed chicken and giblets into a large stock pot.
  • Grate 2 carrots, 1 onion, and all the celery in a food processor. Add these grated vegetables to the stock pot.
  • Place the remaining carrots and onions that were not grated, bouillon cubes, and red bell pepper into the pot.
  • Fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 5 minutes, and then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for one hour.
  • After an hour, stir in the barley. Let the soup continue to simmer for another hour.
  • After the second hour, carefully remove the chicken and giblets from the pot. Place them into a large, clean, shallow bowl.
  • Debone the chicken, dice the meat, and return it to the pot.
  • Finally, add the sweet corn. The soup is now ready to be served. If not serving immediately, allow it to cool before refrigerating or freezing for later use.

Notes

  • Soups are versatile, offering endless combinations of ingredients to suit different dietary preferences and needs.
  • They provide a satisfying, low-calorie option for weight management, keeping you full for longer.
  • The warm and comforting nature of soups can help soothe and ease digestion.
  • Adding vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains enhance the nutritional profile.
  • Homemade soups allow control over ingredients, reducing sodium and unhealthy additives.
  • Enjoy soups as a convenient way to increase vegetable intake for overall well-being.
  • Experiment with herbs and spices to elevate flavors and add extra health benefits.
  • Broth-based soups are hydrating and excellent for replenishing essential fluids.
  • Opt for homemade stocks or low-sodium broths for a healthier foundation.
  • Embrace soups as a simple, wholesome, and delicious way to nourish your body and mind.
Hanna Barnes

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