When you’ve got a cold and you’re feeling sick and miserable, or you feel the need for a super nourishing meal so you don’t GET sick, what do you crave? For me, it’s always chicken soup. Maybe it’s something to do with my childhood, and mum making soup for us when we were sick… Chicken soup for me means love, nourishment and comfort. But it’s not just psychological – it really IS medicine! Let me explain.
It seems like most of our friends are sick with the flu at the moment. The flus and colds have been crazy this year!! We are fighting them every way we know how, and chicken soup is on high rotation on the meal plan. My daughter messaged me from work the other day and said we needed to make soup for her cousin who was sick in bed, and she asked that we make a ‘chicken soup that’s not watery, with LOTS of veggies’! So this is what I came up with. I added every vegetable I could get my hands on, plus fresh herbs, chilli, garlic, turmeric (anti-inflammatory), collagen (for gut health), ghee (fat soluble vitamins), egg yolks (omega-3s, vitamins, and to add creaminess), and seaweed (for iodine and minerals that fight colds). And it’s of course based on chicken broth! (If you don’t know the benefits of broth you can read about them here.) How’s that for a nutrition-packed soup??
I maaaaayyyyy have overdone it, because I ended up with about 15 litres of soup, but no one complained. 😀 My niece and her husband, my friend and her family of four, and my family of six all enjoyed it… and I must admit I ate it for four meals in two days because it was so YUMMY!!
If you’re already a believer in the powers of chicken soup for health and happiness, you probably are well-acquainted with my Coconut Lemon Chicken Soup – it’s been the most popular soup on my blog for years, especially during cold and flu season. (Or maybe you love my Creamy Chicken and Brown Rice Soup or Chicken and Fresh Turmeric Soup – it’s hard to choose!) The reason I’m sharing yet ANOTHER chicken soup with you is because, 1) you can’t have too many chicken soup recipes, and 2) my daughter specifically asked for a chicken soup that is FULL of veggies… so here it is. As veggie-full as I could get it!
Food is Medicine
If you think about all the advice for fighting colds and flus naturally, you will understand why chicken soup really does make you feel better. Here’s some of the best tips I’ve collected over the years, and how a nutrient dense soup can help to promote healing.
Tips for fighting colds and flus:
- Keep fluids up. Make sure you’re having lots of warm drinks (elderberry tea, fresh ginger tea, lemon and honey, peppermint tea or other herbal teas). Cold drinks are not recommended if you have a sore throat, so drink room temperature water, not cold from the fridge. For acute cases, make elderberry syrup. Soup tips: Broths and broth-based soups are the perfect food to keep fluids up. Sip light soups and broths from a mug, and when you feel up to eating try a hearty soup like the one below.
- Eat light, healing foods; avoid foods that promote congestion and inflammation. Gentle, easy to digest foods are important when fighting an infection – soups, stews, casseroles, fresh juices (diluted), and juice jellies. Avoid flour and baked goods, starchy foods, sugars, preservatives, vegetable oils, and dairy. Soup tips: A broth based soup with plenty of soft-cooked veggies and fresh herbs will help to reduce congestion, and boost the immune system. Add some turmeric to help reduce inflammation.
- Gargle with salt water, or sage and thyme water. Gargling really helps to soothe sore, inflamed throats and clears the sinuses, and also reduces bacteria in the throat, mouth and tonsils. For a salt water gargle, stir 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt into 1 cup of boiled water and cool to lukewarm. For sage and thyme gargle, boil 150ml water with 1 tsp each of fresh sage and thyme (or 1/2 tsp each of dried herbs). Allow to infuse for 10 mins, then strain and cool to lukewarm. Soup tips: Add good quality sea salt and fresh herbs to your soups – when you sip the salty soup it’s like gargling with warm salt water, and the added herbs will give your immune system a boost! Read about the Health Benefits of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.
- Avoid medications that dry out mucus or suppress a cough. It’s much healthier for the body to get rid of the infected mucus by coughing it up, so that the cold doesn’t turn into a secondary chest infection. To loosen and thin out mucus so it’s easier to release: take hot, steamy showers; have a humidifier with eucalyptus oil going to keep air moist, or do steam inhalations; keep hydrated (avoid coffee, tea and alcohol, see recommended fluids above); drink ivy leaf tea or take ivy leaf syrup; drink licorice root tea or suck on natural licorice lozenges (unless you have high blood pressure); mince up some fresh garlic and mix with honey and have a spoonful when coughing; add cayenne pepper, horseradish and onions to your food as much as possible. Soup tips: Leaning over a steaming bowl of soup full of fresh herbs, chilli, pepper, garlic, onion, turmeric and ginger, and sipping it while you inhale the steam, will help to thin out mucus and clear sinuses.
- Get plenty of fresh air, and rest and relax! Keep the windows open if you can (even a little) to let the air in while you lay in bed or rest on the couch; sit outside in the sunshine; lay on a blanket in the shade in the backyard (well-rugged up if the weather is cool). Breathing fresh air is important for the vitality of your respiratory system. Avoid stuffy, overheated rooms. Rest as much as you can, and when you start to feel better don’t overdo it, or you could end up back in bed, worse than ever! Soup tips: Keep a thermos of broth or brothy soup beside your bed to sip on when you get hungry. When you’re starting to feel a bit better and you want to get out of the house, take soup and tea in thermoses, pile some blankets and pillows into the car, pack a good book, and find a sunny, quiet spot to have a lazy day and an outdoor nap!
See what I mean? A good old-fashioned chicken soup ticks all the boxes. Make this soup for your friends and family when they’re under the weather, and send them the recipe so they can make it for you! 😀 Teach your kids to make it, keep some in the freezer, always be prepared! 😉
Broth in a cup + sunshine + rest = medicine!
I don’t usually use a recipe for chicken soup, but I’ve written one out for you in case you feel like you need some guidance at first. It’s very flexible – I don’t use precise measurements, it really depends on how big your pot is and how much chicken and veggies you like in your soup. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients – this is the “optimal” version, but you will still get a delicious, healing soup if you don’t have all these veggies, or if you only have dried herbs, or if you don’t have any fresh turmeric or seaweed or collagen… Use what you have, and treat this recipe as a guide.
Here’s some photos to illustrate what I did, and you can also print out the recipe card below.
Enjoy. (And be well!)
Make a chicken broth with 1-2 kg chicken drumsticks or 1 whole chicken (organic, free range) – simmer until soft then remove chicken to a dish to keep warm while you cook the veggies.
While chicken is cooking, finely chop fresh chilli, herbs, garlic, ginger and turmeric and set aside.
For a creamy soup, make cauliflower mash to add at the end, blending in ghee, gelatin (I use this one) and egg yolks for extra goodness.
While cauliflower mash is cooking, chop up all the veggies and add them to the pot – harder veggies first with herbs and seaweed (kelp, dulse flakes – opt), then softer veggies, simmering until veggies are soft.
Add the cauliflower mash to the soup and season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (if desired). Remove chicken from bones (if using drumsticks) or cut whole chicken into pieces and stir gently into soup.
Feed your puppy the chicken scraps.😄 (But not the bones!)
Freeze some soup for another day, or take some to your sick friends and family – they will love you forever! ❤️
- 1 whole chicken or 1-2kg chicken drumsticks (organic, free range)
- filtered water
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1-2 long red chillis, deseeded
- 5cm piece of turmeric, peeled
- 2-3cm piece of ginger, peeled
- large handful Italian parsley or cilantro
- 1 head cauliflower (approx 800g), cut into florets
- 2 Tbsp ghee or chicken fat
- 2 Tbsp organic gelatin (opt)
- 2 egg yolks (opt)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1-2 stalks celery, finely sliced
- 1 leek, tough outer green leaves removed, finely sliced (wash carefully)
- 3-4 large carrots, sliced
- 2 cups pumpkin, cut into 2-3cm cubes
- 1 large turnip, cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 larges potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes (omit for GAPS diet)
- 2-3 sprigs fresh sage, leaves only, chopped
- 2-3 sprigs thyme, leaves only, chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary, leaves only, chopped
- 1-2 tsp dulse flakes or dried kelp (opt)
- 2 large mushrooms (portabello), sliced
- 3-4 large button squash, finely sliced
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch leafy greens (kale, bok choy, spinach, etc), finely sliced
- sea salt, to taste (approx 3-4 tsp)
- black pepper, to taste
- a pinch of cayenne pepper (opt)
- Place the chicken into a large stock pot (6-8 litres), or divide between two 4 litre pots. Pour in filtered water up to about 5cm from top of pot. Place the lid on and bring to a boil, scoop off any scum, then reduce heat and simmer (lid on) for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until chicken is soft. (Don't overcook or chicken will be tough.)
- Towards end of cooking time, begin preparing other ingredients. Place garlic, chilli, turmeric, ginger and parsley into Thermomix and chop on 5 sec/speed 7 (or chop until fine in a food processor). Remove to a small bowl and set aside. Begin chopping vegetables and herbs.
- Place cauliflower florets into Thermomix bowl (no need to clean bowl), add 200g of the chicken broth from the pot and the ghee or duck fat. Cook 20 mins/100C/speed 1. Add egg yolks and collagen to bowl (if using) and blend 1 min/speed 9, gradually increasing speed from 1-9. (If you don't have a Thermomix, cook cauliflower with broth and ghee/fat in a saucepan on the stovetop, then add yolks and collagen and blend with a stick blender, or cool and blend in a blender or food processor.) Set aside.
- When chicken is finished cooking, remove with a slotted spoon and place into a dish to keep warm.
- Add onion, celery, leek, carrots, pumpkin, turnip, potatoes (if using), sage, thyme, rosemary and dulse flakes/kelp to the broth. Continue to simmer with lid on for 15 mins.
- Add mushrooms, squash, broccoli and leafy greens. Continue to simmer with lid on until all the vegetables are soft.
- Add in the mash and the reserved chopped herbs, chilli, garlic, ginger and turmeric. (If you don't want the soup too thick, only add half the mash.) Turn off the heat, and stir through gently until combined.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (if using).
- If using drumsticks, remove meat from bone and flake into soup in large pieces. Or if using a whole chicken, cut into pieces and add to soup. Stir through gently so chicken and veggies don't break up too much. Adjust seasonings if needed.
- Serve hot.
- If making ahead of time and refrigerating or freezing, leave out the fresh herbs, chilli, ginger, garlic and turmeric until ready to serve, and add at the last minute for optimal nutrition, if desired. Or make as above and freeze, then just add some more freshly minced garlic when you heat up the soup.
- Store in fridge for up to two days, or freeze in airtight containers for up to four months.
- If you didn't use the whole batch of cauliflower mash, it can also be stored in the fridge for two days (or longer if egg yolks are omitted), or frozen for up to 4 months.