Chicken soup

Chicken soup

Chicken soup is a soup made by boiling chicken parts and/or bones in water, with various vegetables and flavorings. The classic chicken soup consists of a clear broth, often served with small pieces of chicken or vegetables, or with noodles or dumplings, or grains such as rice and barley. Chicken soup has also acquired the reputation of a folk remedy for colds and flus, and in many countries including the United States is considered a classic comfort food.

Traditionally, chicken pie is preferably eaten using old hens too tough and stringy to be roasted or cooked for a short time. In modern cities fowl are difficult to come by, and broiler chickens (young chickens suitable for broiling or roasting) are often used to make soup; soup hens or fowl are to be preferred when available.


Several terms are sometimes confused when referring to chicken soup or chicken soups. The following is an attempt to clarify the terminology:

  • Chicken stock is a liquid in which chicken bones and vegetables have been boiled for the purpose of serving as an ingredient in more complex dishes. Chicken stock is not usually served as is. Stock can be made with less palatable parts of the chicken, such as feet, necks or bones: the higher bone content in these parts contributes more gelatin to the liquid, making it a better base for sauces. Stock can be reboiled and reused as the basis for a new stock. Bouillon cubes are often used instead of chicken stock prepared from scratch.
  • Chicken broth is the liquid part of chicken soup. Broth can be served as is, or used as stock, or served as soup with noodles. Broth can be milder than stock, does not need to be boiled as long, and can be made with meatier chicken parts.
  • Chicken bouillon or bouillon de poulet is the French term for chicken broth.
  • Chicken consommé is a more refined chicken broth. It is usually strained to perfect clarity, and reduced to concentrate it.
  • While any soup in which chicken has been boiled or with a chicken stock base is, strictly speaking, a chicken soup, chicken soup, unless qualified, implies that the soup is served as a thin broth, possibly with pieces of meat, vegetables, noodles, or dumplings.

Curative properties

According to food historians chicken soup was prescribed as a cure for the common cold in Ancient Egypt . The 10th century Persian physician Avicenna referred to the curative powers of chicken soup in his writings. In the 12th century the Jewish sage Maimonides wrote that chicken soup “has virtue in rectifying corrupted humours”, and recommended it as nutrition for convalescents; Maimonides also particularly recommended chicken soup for people suffering from hemorrhoids and the early stages of leprosy. .

Modern research conducted by Dr. Stephen Rennard, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine, and his colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha suggests that there might be some scientific basis for the belief in the curative powers of chicken soup. They found that the particular blend of nutrients and vitamins in traditional chicken soup can slow the activity of certain white blood cells. This may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could hypothetically lead to temporary ease from symptoms of illness. Their research was published in 2000 in the scientific journal Chest. This was not, however, an in vivo clinical trial, and did not demonstrate that chicken soup was the best foodstuff for this purpose.

Because it is simple to prepare, relatively cheap, nutritious, and easily digested, chicken soup is a good food for winter convalescents. Sipping warm soup can also clear the sinuses because of the steam ventilating into the nasal passages, serving as a natural decongestant, which also relieves cold and flu symptoms. Additionally, cold and flu viruses can only survive within a narrow temperature range, and sipping hot liquids can raise the ambient temperature in the nose and throat above this threshold. Last, but not least, chicken soup can be beneficial due to the placebo effect of comfort foods.

Chicken soup in different cultures


Chicken Soup (or Broth) in Britain is a clear and watery soup with chunky vegetables (such as carrot, celery and onion), chicken and salt. However cream of chicken soup is commonly more popular. It is a thick creamy soup.

United States and Canada

In the United States and Canada, chicken soup often has noodles in it, thus giving it its common name of “chicken noodle soup.” The term may have been coined in a commercial for Campbell’s soup in the 1930’s. The original 21 varieties of Campbell’s condensed soup featured a “chicken soup with noodles”, but when it was advertised on the “Amos & Andyradio show in the 1930s by a slip of the tongue the soup was referred to as “chicken noodle soup”; Campbell's was preparing to discontinue the soup due to low sales. After the broadcast, letters began pouring in asking for Chicken Noodle Soup. Campbell’s then changed the name of their soup. Several variations on chicken noodle (usually with the pasta in various shapes such as "ABC's" or stars) have made it one of Campbell's best selling products.


The " Gentse-waterzooi" is a stew with chicken, vegetables and cream originally from Ghent, Belgium. A stew-like form of chicken soup is called Chicken Booyah, known in Wisconsin as “Belgian Penicillin”.


Many East Asian soups are based on chicken broth. Typical Chinese chicken soup are made from old hens and are seasoned with ginger, spring onions, star anise, black pepper, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil.


Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, is known for a version of chicken soup called ajiaco. Along with chicken, ajiaco typically includes sweetcorn, several types of potatoes, avocado, capers, an herb called guascas, and is served with a dollop of sour cream.

Sancocho de Gallina is another popular dish throughout Colombia and in neighboring countries. This is a broth that includes entire pieces of (often rather tough) soup hen on the bone with large pieces of plantain, potato, yucca and/or other vegetables. A bowl of Sancocho is usually an entire meal. (Other Colombian sancochos include beef and fish-based broths prepared and served similarly).


In Bulgaria chicken soup is often seasoned with lemon juice or vinegar.


The French serve chicken-based forms of bouillon and consommé. Typical French seasoning for chicken soup includes: bay leaves, fresh thyme, dry white wine and garlic.


In Germany homemade chicken soup typically consists of chicken broth, spices and semolina dumplings or German Spätzle noodles are added. Another dish made with chicken broth, pieces of chicken, boiled vegetables and spices is known as Hühnereintopf, meaning chicken stew. Alternatively, homemade noodles may be added to the chicken broth with no vegetables and just pickling spice, salt and pepper are added to it.


In Greece chicken soup is usually made with lemon and eggs, and served with rice. This soup, called avgolemono (egg and lemon) is a traditional remedy for colds and hangovers.


Hungarian chicken soup is a clear soup, a consommé, called even Ùjházi chicken soup., A consommé with entire pieces of chicken, chicken liver and heart, with chunky vegetables and spices like whole black peppercorn, bay leaves, salt and ground black pepper. The vegetables boiled along with the pieces of chicken are usually carrots, celeriac, parsley root and parsnip. Soup vermicelli, semolina dumplings or thin Spätzle noodles or small dumplings are also added to the soup. Even other vegetables may be used, such as green peas, a whole tomato and whole onions boiled along with the soup, mushrooms, asparagus, celery, green pepper, cauliflower, kohlrabi, green beans or parsley, in different combinations.


In Italy, chicken soup is often served with pasta, in such dishes as cappelletti in brodo, tortellini in brodo and passatelli.


Chicken soup is known as Canja Canja is a chicken broth prepared with rice or pasta and shredded chicken meat. It is believed to help a person overcome colds and digestive problems, among other mild forms of sickness.


The Polish chicken soup It is commonly served with fine noodles and sometimes ground almonds in their broth called rosół: this was probably the basis for a form of mini croutons popular in Israel, known as (in Hebrew "Shkedei Marak" שקדיי מרק-) or soup almonds.


Chicken soup is a traditional dish of the Jewish kitchen. The 12th century rabbi and physician Maimonides touted the benefits of chicken soup to ones health. Recent studies have proven its famed salubrious properties.

Ashkenazi Jews living in shtetls were often very poor, but chicken-raising required few resources. Most Jewish families would try to acquire at least one chicken for Shabbat and try to make the most of it, using as much of the chicken as they could. Dishes such as chopped liver, helzel (stuffed chicken neck), gribenes (crackling made from fat and skin), pupik (roasted gizzards), p'tcha (chicken feet) were born of poverty-driven necessity. Chicken fat was rendered into schmaltz and used for cooking. The remaining carcass was used to prepare the soup.

The soup, prepared with chicken flesh, carrots, onions, celery and parsnips, and herbs like parsley and fresh dill, was often served with kneidlach (matzah balls), kreplach (dumplings), lokshen (flat egg noodles), or mandlen (soup "nuts"). A traditional garnish was unlaid chicken eggs, which were taken from a hen and boiled in the soup. Modern health standards make these difficult to obtain now.


Samgyetang is a Korean chicken soup with Korean ginseng, dried jujube fruits, garlic, ginger, glutinous rice, and sometimes other medicinal herbs. It is held to be not only a cure for physical ailments but a preventer of sickness. Baeksuk, which is the Korean counterpart to the chicken noodle soup of Western culture, is also popular among Koreans for its power to cure minor illnesses such as a cold. While the chicken noodle soup, as the name suggests, has some noodles in it quite often, Baeksuk does not contain any noodles.


Caldo de pollo is a common Latin-American soup made with whole chicken pieces instead of chopped or shredded chicken, and large cuts of vegetables, such as half-slices of potatoes and whole leaves of cabbage. Another variation of chicken soup is caldo tlalpeño which is garnished with chopped avocado, white cheese, and a chipotle chile.

Chicken soup in history and media


The flavor of the chicken in chicken soup is most potent when the chicken is boiled in water with salt and only a few vegetables, such as onion, carrots, and celery. Variations on the flavor are gained by adding root vegetables such as parsnip, potato, sweet potato and celery root, herbs such as parsley and dill, and other vegetables such as zucchini, whole garlic cloves or tomatoes. The soup should be brought to a boil and then simmered in a covered pot on a very low flame for one to three hours, adding water if necessary. Seasonings such as black pepper can be added. A clearer broth is achieved by skimming the film of congealed fat off the top of the soup as it is cooking; the broth can be further clarified by straining it through a strainer or cheesecloth. Saffron or turmeric are sometimes added as a yellow colorant.

Nutritional value

Chicken soup can be a relatively low fat food: fat can be removed by chilling the soup after cooking and skimming the layer of congealed fat from the top. The nutritional value of chicken soup can be boosted by adding turkey meat to chicken soup recipes: turkey is a richer source of iron. A study determined that "prolonged cooking of a bone in soup increases the calcium content of the soup when cooked at an acidic, but not at a neutral pH".


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