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What do you put in your chicken soup?

We all know how to make chicken soup. So that's not really what I'm asking about.

Rather, I'd like to know what you do, or put into your chicken soup to be precise, to make it your own.

We can all pretty much assume that we all start with some sort of stock (or broth) - be it consommé or (gulp!) bouillon or whatever. But then the possibilities are endless from there, right?

Do you add chicken meat?

What about noodles? Or dumplings? Or gnocchi? Or matzo balls?

Some other starch maybe? Potatoes?

Do you add vegetables? Peas and carrots? Corn?

Do you add a sour component like some of the Eastern Europeans appear to do?

In contributing to the Wiki page on chicken soup, it sort of piqued my curiosity as to what 'Hounds think. So, please, do tell.

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  1. most recently, wakame seaweed, sambal sauce and eggs.

    1. I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to chicken soup. I also almost never make it unless one of us is sick :-)

      Then I have it and wonder why I don't make it more often.

      I generally cheat by using chicken broth instead of water, and usually just add chicken thighs (skin removed, b/c I don't cope too well with chicken fat, sadly). The only veggies "allowed" are nice fat carrots, leeks, and celeriac -- the latter mostly for flavoring, as I discard the mushy stuff before eating. When the thighs are fall-off the bone done, I take them out, remove the bones and put the meat back in. I always try to skim off a lot of the surface fat.

      Serve over broad egg noodles & with a good helping of chopped parsley.

      1. Usually a little lemon and fresh ginger root for brightness and some kind if hot pepper or red pepper flakes for some heat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodieX2

          I do this for people who are sick. The ginger is nice for tummies and noses.

        2. Ipse, I like adding tofu knots to my soup if I want it to be a very satisfying meal. Also ... meat filled tortellini, mini egg bow tie pasta, stelline pasta, or acini di pepe all pair well with chicken soup.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Cheese Boy

            Tofu knots ? what are they ? can't picture little knots? of tofu?

            1. re: grangie angie

              + 2 on the info please...I'm intriqued...

              1. re: Cherylptw


                We usually stir-fry them.

          2. matzo balls made with minced parsley and dill(in the matzo batter before it gets firm)also parsley/dill,carrots and celery in the soup,chunks of chicken depending on how much leftover meat I have.I always make the soup the day after I make a roast chicken.

            1. I make it three different ways:

              As a first course, with matza balls, carrots, parsnips, celery and onion.

              As a main when we are sick, matza balls or noodles, shredded chicken, carrots, parsnips, celery, onion, and garlic.

              As a main when we are well, shredded chicken, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, kale (or some other green), and a squeeze of fresh lime juice right before serving.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tzurriz


                Yours sounds lovely and a bit more complex than mine. We're pretty set in our ways now, but I'm open to improvements! :-)

                I mourn the loss of matzo balls from my life since the Celiac diagnosis. I used to make small ones and add them to my standard soup in addition to egg noodles. (Now rice)

              2. Yes, too all the above. I've also sound that adding boiled egg yolk makes it rich and creamy.

                2 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  Oh, I will swirl in beaten egg sometimes, too.

                  1. re: sandylc

                    That's good, too, I should have said I added hard boiled egg yolk, not just boiled egg yolk. I'm not sure how you'd add boiled egg yolks.

                2. Chicken meat, carrots, celery, parsnips, leeks, garlic, parsley, dill, pepper, lemon juice, & sometimes a touch of fresh ginger.

                  1. My Mr. "requires" me to add chive dumplings, so in they go. In fact, even when we hiked the Appalachian Trail, I even had a campfire version of chicken soup, complete with dumplings.

                    1. I make old fashioned Jewish penicillin.
                      I make Ecuadorean soupa de pollo
                      I make LA style chicks soup (for my mom)
                      And I make Phreddy Chicken Soup!
                      Depending on the day, it could be a variety...but it always starts with chicken thighs and legs...the most flavor and of course the most fat, kosher salt, black pepper, a chopped onion, a big pot of NYC water with all the additives ....from there anything goes...

                      1. Ipsey-my-souper-soul-mate,

                        I love your soup posts. Chicken soup in my kitchen starts with a mirepoix but medium dice and lots of it, gently sautéed in a wee bit of oil or butter and some homemade chicken stock from the freezer. On the days I make stock, chicken soup is always on the table later. Chicken is either poached in the stock (and removed promptly as I hate that dried out flavorless chicken that you get with over cooking or, horrors, boiling) or I will use leftover roasted chicken. A little thyme is my preferred herb and I use dried for this soup. Since all the work is in the stock making, excellent soup can be put together in no time. It's just stock, carrots, celery, onion or scallions, thyme, my starch (egg noodles or rice depending on who's eating it, chunks of chicken added last and just heated thru, salt and pepper, minced Italian parsley for garnish.

                        We eat it year round and have consumed gallons of it during cold/flu season.

                        Hey Ipsey, what's your best homemade soup?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ItalianNana

                          Hey Ipsey, what's your best homemade soup?

                          Chinese oxtail soup.

                          1. re: ipsedixit


                            Love oxtails. Am planning to use them in making broth for my first real attempt at Pho.

                        2. I only make chicken soup when one of us is under the weather. For a single serving I use one chicken thigh into a one quart pot. Cover with water, add a bay leaf, a couple of black pepper corns, some kosher salt, 1/4 of a whole onion, and one jalapeno slit lengthwise about 3/4 of the way up, and a couple of sprigs of cilantro. Then simmer until the meat is tender. When it's ready, I'll through in a couple spoonfuls of cooked rice into the pot.

                          If I'm feeling better, I might stick a clove into the onion and add a couple of baby carrots, a couple of cloves of garlic, and maybe a small fresh tomato cut into quarters. Instead of rice I'll add alphabet pasta cooked separately.

                          1. For cooking:
                            Whole chicken. (May be stuffed with whole garlic cloves OR ginseng and jujubes)
                            When served:
                            Chopped green onions, salt, and pepper in the bowl. Place meat, then broth in the bowl. Serve.
                            Anything else becomes chicken and xxx soup.

                            1. A Polish restaurant here in Chicago serves chicken soup that has had potatoes cooked in the broth until they fall apart (or I have replicated this by mixing mashed potato into the chicken broth) then flavoring it generously with dried dill. The broth should have thickened slightly with the potato.

                              1. Quencia,

                                I do this in other soups. Potato is a great thickener.

                                Has anyone else used egg yolk in their soup for added richness? How do you incorporate it? It sounds great.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: ItalianNana

                                  I make avgolemono soup, a Greek soup with egg and lemon. You need to tempure the beaten yolks by adding a little hot broth at a time while whisking. Then once the mixture is similar to the soup, pour it into the pot. So tasty!

                                  1. re: Modz9636


                                    I make egg drop soup in a similar way, but without tempering, as you want the little ribbons of noodle-like egg. But, are you using whole egg or just yolk. And does it incorporate smoothly? It sounds really good! Thx :-)

                                    1. re: ItalianNana

                                      I use just the yolks and once the yolks are tempered and mixed back into the soup, I try not to bring it to a high boil. A simmer is good and the yolk is nicely incorporated.

                                      1. re: Modz9636

                                        Interesting. That's sort of like spiking your chicken soup with custard.

                                        Keeping it all in the family. Chicken, egg ... Egg, chicken ...

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Eggsactly! I don't put too many yolks, just two or so.

                                        2. re: Modz9636


                                          Thank you :-)

                                          Now y'all stop eggsagerating the low brow humor!!

                                  2. Yes to the chicken meat, and I usually put in some beef as well (marrow bones, bone-in short rib meat), sometimes turkey necks. I add thin egg noodles at the very end. No potatoes, yes parsnip and carrots and celery and onion (onion i usually remove before serving, along with the dill and parsley). No peas or corn, and no sour component (although I have made a sweet-and-sour soup, that is not my chicken soup).

                                    1. once more...(failed before)

                                      chicken meat, onion, carrots, garlic....often a mirepoix base

                                      Rice or pasta if necessary

                                      and.........a TBS or 2 of peanut butter per serving! Gives it a velvety texture and an "OH this is so good........what IS IT you add?" smile to those that have it

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic


                                        Well knock me over with a feather! Seriously? Peanut butter in chicken soup? I keep hearing my jar of Skippy whispering..."Come on Nana, you know you want to..." I do. Damn it, I DO!

                                          1. re: Cheese Boy

                                            It also works to help enliven other insipid canned chicken soups. And to those, when forced to use them, I almost always add some more meat.....and maybe some more veg

                                        1. I like the usual, carrots, onion, celery, and sometimes I'll also add a can of diced tomatoes and a handful of pastina.

                                          1. I make chicken soup so many different ways, it just depends on what we are in the mood for or what happens to be in the fridge.

                                            Regular chicken soup with onions, celery, carrots and noodles (which is the usual base for most of my soups except the noodles)
                                            Zippy chicken mushroom that has hot pepper sauce and tarragon, with heavy cream
                                            Tex Mex Chicken soup that has diced tomatoes, zucchini and ground cumin
                                            Chicken Tortilla soup with beans
                                            Chicken corn chowder
                                            Cream of chicken soup
                                            Chicken Pot Pie soup

                                            1. Nowadays, the (after the roast chicken) stock usually has a good spoonful of dill in it and a couple of bay leaves, then chicken, tortellini and kale added.

                                              1. chicken hearts and/or gizzards really gives the soup flavor. I'd rather not make it if I can't find hearts.

                                                1. For Chicken Tortilla Soup I had a big can of refried beans to thicken, (along with whole pintos). Lime and Enchilada sauce.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: sparky403

                                                    Wow, never thought of adding refried beans. What a great idea. Thank you for that tip.

                                                  2. normally-mirepoix, a little garlic, dark meat, and a bit of rice. Always make sure to add plenty of celery leaf because thats how my Chilean grandma does it.

                                                    today-sauteed my mirepoix in coconut oil, then poached my chicken leg quarters for about an hour. Took the meat off the bone and returned it to the pot along with a big pile of kale. Seasoned with some Sriracha and ate after about 20 minutes of simmering. Simple and tasty.

                                                    1. I use a whole chicken, cut into eighths. After boiling that, and skimming the foam, I add carrot, zucchini, leek, parsnip, celery, onion, potato, and a bunch of dill and parsley. Later I add lots of freshly ground pepper and kosher salt. Sometimes I make matzah balls to go along with it.

                                                      I'm surprised so few replies here mention dill; if I have chicken soup made by someone else, and it doesn't have dill, it just tastes wrong.

                                                      1. homemade sauerkraut. the saltiness, acidity, and crunch are the perfect attributes to cut through the relative blandness and mushiness of the rest of the soup

                                                        1. My quick/simple chicken soup is the carcass and leftovers from a rotisserie chicken, plus the little bag of stuff from the Asian grocer-- either the dried Korean 삼계탕 Sam Gae Tang mix or the very similar mix for Chinese black chicken, 滋补乌鸡汤 zībŭ wūjītāng.

                                                          1. I my house we typicall make a stock from leftover roasted chicken carcasses and freeze it for later use. When the yearning for soup comes we then make a large pot and add onions, celery, carrots, and cubed chicken meat. That is the base of the soup.

                                                            From their we will ladle out the amount of soup we want into a seperate pot and add whatever we like for that serving. Most often this is boiled egg noodles or cooked rice. The noodles or rice has to be cooked before going in the pot or they will soak up all the broth.

                                                            If I am feeling adventurous I will add Bisquick dumplings to the pot, cover and boil.

                                                            1. Depending if you want a tart soup- I add a little white wine vinegar or spicy- a little Siracha!

                                                              1. Chicken Soup-

                                                                pullet chicken
                                                                dill, parsley,leek,onion,parsley root,celeriac with greens,parsnip,carrots, and 1 small plum tomato

                                                                very little salt/pepper/long pepper

                                                                ppl can and do add more salt to taste

                                                                matzoh balls or goodman's/streits noodles

                                                                1. Onions, carrots, celery, chicken and spaghetti broken into thirds.

                                                                  That's traditional, right?

                                                                  1. A hint of good curry powder. Gives it that je ne sais quoi.

                                                                    1. I do it several ways. My quick recipe is some store bought chicken broth, and add bite size pieces on skinless, boneless chicken thighs, carrots, celery, and onions. A splash or two of soy sauce for umami, and a squirt of ketchup or tomato paste for more umami. Pepper, sage, rosemary in small amounts. The soy and ketchup usually provide enough salt. I only cook this until the veggies are tender, although my father likes it re-boiled for 20 minutes to make the veggies soft. Some times I throw in frozen peas and corn about two minutes before it's done. I always make this very heavy broth based, lots of liquid to slurp up, the focus is on the broth as much as the meat/veggies. On rare occasions I may add some pre-cooked pasta to the pot a minute before done, but usually the focus is the veggies.

                                                                      I also sometimes make it as above but with small chopped veggies in limited amounts, and make my non-kosher matzo balls. I use regular matzo ball mix and add romano cheese and black pepper to it. Proportions are lots of broth, a little meat/veggies, and a few matzo balls per bowl. Focus is on broth and matzo balls.

                                                                      Then there are the home style chicken soups and stews. Whenever whole chickens or tomahawks (huge leg/thigh quarters) are on sale at my local H-Mart, I buy a ton. I roast them, and cut off the meat, but not all of it. I use the meat for diner, and salads, but save the meat/bones in the freezer. Then when I have 3-4 birds worth, about a packed, gallon zip lock, I roast them until medium/deep brown and make a stock. Tons of water, bring to simmer, and cook 8-10 hours, adding water as needed. No herbs or salt, maybe an onion and some celery to sweeten it up. I let cool, and strain out all the bones and mush. Then I put the stock back in the pot and simmer all day to reduce to a demi-glace. When it is about 95% reduced and is thick enough to coat a spoon I let cool and pour into containers to freeze.

                                                                      I do the same with steak bones, ham bones, duck, turkey, rabbit, etc. Also with the ends of veggies when I prep them for meals. They go in their separate bags in the freezer until a gallon bag is jammed full. So I have a freezer full of containers of different demi-glace. These I use for richer, more full bodied soups and stews, and gravies too.

                                                                      When I make these types of stews and soups, I tend to use some carrot, onion, celery, and then various heavier root vegetables like potato, sweet potato, parsnip, turnip, etc. and they are usually on the thicker, heartier side. Also some times I add rice of some type.

                                                                      1. Just made some last night (I peel all my vegetables). Cut up into "bite size" cubes two good sized daikon (Japanese white radish), 3 larger carrots cut diagonally, 3 large stalks celery including the leafy tops, one yellow onion rough chopped and 8 or 9 garlic cloves smashed with the flat edge of my chef's knife. All the vegetables get put into a 2 gal. zip top plastic bag.

                                                                        I mix a cup of sesame oil and a cup of shoyu (soy sauce) with white and black pepper and a generous amount Ajinomoto (Japanese MSG) in another 2 gal. zip top bag and then throw in 6 bone in chicken thighs and let marinade for maybe an hour, turning the bag once or twice.

                                                                        I then transfer the chicken to a large baking pan I line with aluminum foil and pour some of the liquid marinade (not all of the remaining marinade) over the chicken and seal with additional foil and bake at 325 degrees for an hour and 10 minutes.

                                                                        When the chicken is done take out and place the thighs on a cutting board and remove the meat from the thighs. Pour off extra liquid into the bottom of a Dutch over and bring to a low boil and empty vegetables in on top of the left over marinade and stir. then add chicken meat (I add the skin too for more flavor) and add two large containers of chicken stock (I use the organic kosher stock from Whole Foods) and then add a splash of shoyu and let come to a boil over high heat and then reduce to low/simmer and let cook for an hour.

                                                                        I then put on 3 cups of Japanese (short grain) rice to cook in our rice cooker and chop one bunch of green onions which go in a separate bowl.

                                                                        When soup is cooked (about an hour or 1.5 hours - timing is flexible) I add a fair sized scoop of rice to the bottom of our large Japanese ramen style bowls and then a couple of ladles of chicken + vegetable and maybe some additional broth in on top of the rice.

                                                                        We both like to add a pretty good amount of green onions on top and then put on some cayenne and a last splash of shoyu on top of the cayenne and green onions.

                                                                        (If we have it we like to add some Korean style mochi (dduk) to the soup. But don't add too soon or it will totally melt away. Maybe 20 minutes or so before you plan on serving the soup)

                                                                        1. I like mine with matzah balls from a mix and kreplach (Jewish wontons)

                                                                          1. When I make it for Passover, matzoh balls made with chopped dill and sometimes a little parsley and/or scallion, and the carrots (whole or cut in half) that cooked in the soup. Otherwise: sliced carrots, egg noodles (or maybe alphabets or orzo), chicken meat added back in.

                                                                            My mom always made dumplings with beef marrow instead of matzoh meal. I've got to get that recipe from her. The broth is also hers -- it includes lemon peel and cloves (which get stuck in the onions). That little hint of clove makes it special to me.

                                                                            1. While I still to a "traditional" with lots of veggies on occassion, this is still my usual go to version:


                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                I make my own stock and freeze it in Zip locks.
                                                                                The 'mother stock' is only chicken clear broth. No nothing in it except a bit of salt.
                                                                                I like to make 'Tom Ka Gai' soup. You can goggle some variations of it.

                                                                              2. Large cubes of hard yellow squash. Picked it up in the Caribbean.

                                                                                Keep adding too many things, and to my mind it is evolving into a stew.

                                                                                So here is the recipe from Guana Cay in the Bahamas.

                                                                                Brown chicken skin side down
                                                                                Add whole pepper, salt, sprig of thyme
                                                                                Add chopped onion and celery
                                                                                Add cubed hard squash
                                                                                When onion becomes clear, add fresh water and cover.

                                                                                Bring to simmer, skim, correct salt.
                                                                                Serve with a wedge of lime and a couple of very hot bird chiles.

                                                                                I will not argue with those who will state this is more like chicken water than a soup. But please remember that you are making this in the tropics, and the last thing you want to do is heat up the house making a meal.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                  of course, to properly assess your recipe, I'd need an invite down there to sample it............do I need a swimsuit?(lol)

                                                                                2. Escarole, so it's borderline wedding soup - but I'm usually too lazy to make the mini meatballs.

                                                                                  I've added turmeric in the past too, to give it that golden color - especially when making home made broth. But a little goes a long way.

                                                                                  There is a chicken stew I make in my pressure cooker, which is just potatoes, chicken thighs, chopped tomato, onion, and a bay leaf (salt and pepper too of course). I don't even add any liquid - the liquid the ingredients give off while cooking is enough, and it keeps the flavor concentrated.