Sketching Out Blog: Sketches of art, watercolor, photos, recipes, books, interviews, Jewish topics, and Highland Park, New Jersey

Chicken Soup Recipe

My Friday night guests (and my regular family attendees=husband, father, sons, daughter) all seem to love my chicken soup. I own a large 8 quart pot, and I purposely try to make leftovers. Soup freezes well. Key to flavor is to use enough chicken; don’t do what I did when first learning and just use necks.


  • 3 chicken backs (with some chicken meat still on it) or 1 small chicken or 3 parts of chicken
  • celery (2-3 stalks, cut in half)
  • 1 onion, chopped in quarters
  • carrots: handful of already peeled baby carrots (easiest) or 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • fresh dill or fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: parsnip, turnip, leftover kale, collards or cabbage
  • optional: pieces of flanken (I tried using chopped steak one week, but it wasn’t nearly as tasty as flanken)
  • optional: matzo balls (follow matzo meal box directions; this could be a whole post itself, how to make a good, light, tasty matzo ball)

Put your chicken or chicken parts in a large pot. Cover the chicken with water (or more than cover). Cook for about one half hour. Your house will already begin to have aroma of chicken soup. Add carrots, onions and any other root vegetables. Parsnip will add a sweet, yummy taste to your soup. If you are making matzo balls, now is a good time to prepare the matzo ball mixture and refrigerate. Add celery. Add salt, pepper. Cook for at least another hour. With a fork, remove the already cooked chicken. At this point I often give the soup chicken as a snack to my kids. Add matzo balls to the hot soup. Add pieces of flanken if you have. Add any bits of cabbage, collards or kale. If you like, sprinkle a bit more salt and/or pepper. Put in parsley and/or dill towards the end.

Friday night/Shabbat trick: you are allowed to unwrap food on Shabbat, but not to wrap food (called “hatmana“). I wrap my soup in two blankets on Friday afternoon right before Shabbat to keep it warm. This way I don’t have to keep the stove going in the summer. I then unwrap the soup right before serving.

Skim the fat: if you store the soup in the refrigerator for a day, you can then skim the fat off the top.

Soup is delicious, nutritious and a nice option for a whole meal (with challah and grape juice) if one is planning ahead for the many holiday meals in a row we will soon celebrate.
 Learn to make matzo balls, too. And then enjoy more soup recipes.

Maria says

Ok, now that sounds amazingly good.

Raizy says

Mmmm... I could smell it now...

Ilana-Davita says

That sounds delicious. Am i right in understanding that you don't serve the chicken with the soup at the end?

Leora says

Ilana-Davita, no, I use chicken backs, so I take those out of the soup and put them in a bowl next to the still cooking soup. My kids know they can come over and snack on the boiled chicken. There usually isn't much left by the Friday night meal, and the boiled chicken tastes best right when it was cooked.

My sister-in-law makes the soup on Thursday night, and her family eats the chicken and a bit of the soup then, so she has one less item to prepare on Friday.

When my father was a little boy (in the 1930s!), the only chicken he knew about was the boiled chicken from the soup. I think he was pleasantly surprised to learn later that there were other ways to prepare chicken.

Ilana-Davita says

Thanks for the extra explanations. I might plan to make some for the holidays. I'll just need to get hold of a small chicken or chicken backs. Wondering how I'll manage that.

triLcat says

I use wings, as they're fairly inexpensive.
I LOVE rutabaga (Kolrabi) in soup. I find turnip (lefet) is a bit too woody.

I personally don't like dill or coriander in.. well in anything.
When I use parsley, I sometimes tie it all together with a string (my brother-in-law has a soup ball -similar to a tea ball but bigger- for that) and remove it. More often, I chop it very very fine so that no one gets an unwieldy chunk of green leafy stuff.

Leora says

triLcat, thanks so much for joining in. I think the fancy name for tying up herbs is "bouquet garni". As you have shown, one can make chicken soup in very individual ways, and each way can be delicious. Personally, I love chunks of the green stuff (except celery, too stringy), so I leave it for me.

Anthony says

It's amazing how many recipes start out with onions, carrots and celery. But I like your addition of the parsnips. Sounds delicious!

Baila says

My kids insist on this soup every Friday, and then we have leftovers on Sunday night. I usually make matzoh balls or add "kibeh" to the soup. Sweet potatoe gives the soup an orange tinge and a sweet flavor.

Jacob da Jew says

My wife makes chicken pretty much the same way. Thanks for the excellent comment on my blog.

Leora says

Baila, thanks for the additional ideas.
Anthony and Jacob da Jew, welcome! Parsnips are nice in soup. But I often forget to buy them. Or I forget to use them.
Jacob da Jew, you're welcome. I love gardening. Cooking is OK, but sometimes it feels like a chore.

Judi~gmj says

How fun! an 8qt pot! Mine is 6qt and is on the stove as I write. Arn't the little baby carrots great? I agree, best to use the backs. I buy whole chickens, cut them up, use the meaty parts and freeze the backs, wing tips and necks. When I get two or three packets of this, I make soup.

Ilana-Davita says

Any great recipe fot matzo balls? I used one I had in a cookbook but they were a bit hard. Can you make them in the morning, cook them in hot water and drop them in your soup later on when you're actually making the soup?

Leora says

Ilana-Davita, I'll work on a post (next week). Meanwhile, follow the recipe on the matzo meal box. You have to refrigerate them anyway, so, yes, make them in the morning, store them in the fridge, drop them in boiling soup at least one half hour before Shabbat. Tips: add a bit of seltzer to the ball mixture, and don't handle them too much.


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