Hot Soup for Cold Days: Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup from Scratch

With cold and flu season comes the inevitable craving for chicken soup, and with good reason: research has shown that chicken soup may indeed help boost the immune system and ward off upper respiratory infections. When made at home with plentiful vegetables, chicken soup also provides a nutritional boost to fortify the system.

Last week, I shared my favorite Easy Crispy Roast Chicken recipe; this week, let’s look at ways to use your leftover chicken carcass to make a delicious, fortifying feast. As always, a recipe is a template for experimentation, so feel free to mix up the veggies as it suits you, add ginger if you love the taste,  and adjust amounts as it suits your palate.


  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 2 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth (optional)
  • Enough water to completely cover the chicken
  • 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil (optional)
  • 3 large leeks, cleaned thoroughly and sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • Approx. 1 ½ cups chopped green beans
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme, sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3-4 cups kale and/or chard
  • 1 whole yellow onion, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • 1-2 limes, squeezed for juice
  • 1 chili pepper, if you like it spicy
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

First up: Remove excess fat from your chicken carcass, then place it into a cast iron Dutch Oven or large soup pot. Add chicken stock and water until the chicken is completely covered.. Bring to a boil, and then reduce hit so the liquid is simmering. Let simmer for 60-90 minutes, uncovered.

While your broth simmers, prep your veggies and herbs. Take care to wash your leeks, kale, and chard thoroughly- leeks in particular hide dirt between layers, and grit is no good in soup. In a separate pot over low to medium heat, add the coconut oil, leeks and onions, and let cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when cooked.

When your broth is ready, remove the carcass and let cool. Strain the broth to remove any skin/bones left over. Return the pot to the stove, over medium heat.  Add the cooked onion and leeks, along with your garlic, celery, carrots, green beans, herbs and bay leaves to the pot. Add lime juice. Cover the pot with a lid and let cook for 20-30 minutes.

Return to your now-cool carcass, and strip the meat from it, shredding it into delicious bite sized pieces. Set these aside.

Add your kale, chard and (optional) chili pepper to your broth, replace lid, and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes. When your time is, remove soup from heat. Now it’s decision time– do you love eating your veggies, or would you rather go straight-up broth and chicken? This will determine whether you strain your broth one more time to remove the veggies and herbs, or simply remove the chili pepper and bay leaves. Once your broth is as you like it, add the shredded chicken to the pot. Taste your masterpiece, then add salt and pepper if desired.

Garnish with parsley and serve!

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