It used to be that chicken soup was only for when you had a case of the sniffles; it was mom’s secret remedy for all that ails you. Among my staple comfort foods is my healthy chicken soup recipe. I came up with a way to make a “big kid” chicken soup recipe, which provides all the comfort of home, and I’m excited to share it with you.
Fun fact #1: Does chicken soup really help fight off colds? That’s precisely what Dr. Stephen Rennard and his colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha set out to evaluate. The researchers conducted an in vitro experiment and found that the various ingredients in chicken soup significantly inhibited the movement of neutrophils, white blood cells released as part of the body’s inflammatory response to infection. By suppressing the activity of neutrophils, chicken soup could potentially minimize symptoms associated with the common cold. So, there might be something to this old wives’ tale.
In case you haven’t noticed, I am a HUGE fan of cooking with a slow cooker. I love that you can take a little from column A, a little from column B, and so on, and create a healthy, well-balanced meal all in one fell swoop. Not only that, you can “set it and forget it,” with the result being a tender, flavorful mouthful of deliciousness.
Chicken soup is traditionally made with chicken stock, chicken, mirepoix, parsley, mushrooms, and parsnips. Depending on what is in-season and available locally, you could use a variety of herbs and vegetables to really make your healthy chicken soup recipe “homemade.” For example, I like to add beans and greens for fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and of course, some garlic for good measure.
Fun fact #2: Mirepoix is a classic combination of onions, celery, and carrots—typically in a 2 to 1 to 1 ratio—used as a base for stocks, soups, stews, braised dishes, and more. Depending on where you are in the world, the combination of veggies differs. For instance, in Cajun and Creole cooking, the “holy trinity” still includes onions and celery but replaces carrots with green peppers. In Italian and Spanish cooking, their “soffritto” or “sofrito,” respectively, is onions, tomatoes, and garlic, along with regional spices. French cooking often involves duxelles, which is a finely chopped mixture of mushrooms, onions, shallots, and herbs. While there are variations, it’s interesting to see that onions are a staple in kitchens all around the world.
Fun fact #3: While I typically use any type of leftover chicken I have on hand for soups and stews, rumor has it that older hens tend to produce the best meat for chicken soup. Of course, unless you are raising your own livestock, you may not know the age of the hen; however, it’s a fun fact to share at your next social outing.
Healthy Chicken Soup Recipe
• 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
• 2 ears corn
• 2 chicken breasts
• 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 2 handfuls kale, chopped
• 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
• 1 cup cannellini beans
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• spices of your choice
1. I started by firing up my grill and throwing on two ears of corn along with the two chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper. You can either grill the corn in its husks or take the husks off and wrap the corn in foil. Grill the corn for about 15 – 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. The chicken takes about 15 minutes; be sure to flip over the breasts halfway through.
2. Then, I dialed the slow cooker up to high, and I added 2 cups of chicken broth and the sweet potatoes.
3. While the potatoes were doing their thing, I sautéed the celery, onion, and garlic until the onion was somewhat translucent.
4. After the corn and chicken were done on the grill, I cut the corn off the cob and shredded the chicken. When everything was ready to go, I added the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth, corn, chicken, chopped fresh kale, cannellini beans, onions, garlic, and celery to the slow cooker.
5. After I added a few sprinkles of some of my favorite seasonings, I watched all the ingredients do a happy dance. I then turned the heat to low and let it cook for about 4 – 6 hours.
6. Pour into a bowl and savor your delicious and healthy chicken soup recipe.
Nutrition Information: (per serving)
Serving size: 1 cup
Servings per recipe: 6