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Chicken soup

Chicken soup is a soup made by bringing to a boil and then simmering 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 is considered a classic comfort food.

Traditionally, chicken soup is prepared using old hens too tough and stringy to be roasted or cooked for a short time. In modern cities these 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 simmered 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.[1]
  • 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.
  • Chicken stew is a more substantial dish with a higher ratio of solids to broth. The broth may also be thickened toward a gravy-like consistency with a roux or by adding flour-based dumplings (matzah balls do not have the same thickening effect).
  • While any soup in which chicken has been simmered 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, rice or dumplings.

Medicinal properties

Research conducted by scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha have studied the medicinal activity in chicken soup in vitro. They found that some components of the chicken soup inhibit neutrophil migration, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could hypothetically lead to temporary ease from symptoms of illness.[2] However, since these results have been obtained from purified cells and directly applied diluted soup the in vivo effect is debatable. Liz Paratz has published an informal meta-analysis in Galus Australis.

Chicken soup in different cultures



Many Chinese soups are based on chicken broth. Typical Chinese chicken soup is made from old hens and are seasoned with ginger, spring onions, star anise, black pepper, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. A more elaborate version can be made from freshly killed old hen and various herbs such as ginseng, dried goji, and old ginger root. The soup is then boiled for hours.


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, a 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, cassava 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). There are Region, as in Medellin - Antioquia, that some people enjoy Sancocho with lemon


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


In most regions of Romania, chicken soup consists of a clear, strained chicken and vegetable broth, in which extremely fine noodles have been added. A different version, technically not qualifying as soup, uses pieces of chicken and pieces of boiled vegetables and is seasoned with an egg yolk and double cream mixture and lemon.


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, to which 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, without vegetables, and with only pickling spice and salt and pepper added to it.


In Greece, chicken soup is usually made with lemon and eggs, and served with small bits of pasta. 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.[3] 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[4] 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.


Chicken soup is a traditional dish of the Jewish kitchen. The 12th-century rabbi and physician Maimonides touted the benefits of chicken soup to one's health.[5]

Ashkenazi Jews living in shtetls were often very poor, but chicken-raising required few resources.[5] 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.

Kreplach shaped in the form of hamantashen float in a bowl of chicken soup made for the Purim seudah.

The soup is prepared with herbs like parsley and fresh dill or thyme, was often served with kneidlach (matzah balls), kreplach (dumplings), lokshen (flat egg noodles), or mandlen (Shkedei Marak in Israel) (soup "nuts"). A traditional garnish was unlaid chicken eggs, which were taken from a hen and boiled in the soup.[6] Modern health standards make these difficult to obtain now.


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


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. Baeksuk resembles Taiwan-style chicken soup.


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.


A bowl of Tinola, a chicken soup viand from the Philippines

Western style chicken soup in the Philippines is called sopas (literally, soup). While there are many variations in the recipe, it usually contains chicken strips in broth, onions, vegetables (mainly carrots, cabbage and celery), and macaroni noodles. It is cooked with evaporated milk to give it a richer flavor. Sopas is normally associated with the cold, rainy season in the Philippines, and may thus be regarded as local comfort food.

Oriental style chicken soup (like mami) normally are ones served with sliced chicken, broth, noodles, chopped vegetables, and resemble their Chinese counterparts.

While they are normally considered as dishes, tinola and sinampalukang manok (a variety of sinigang) may be considered as soups in their own right. Tinola has chicken cuts in broth, with ginger, chayote, and chili pepper leaves. Sinampalukang manok is basically just a chicken version of sinigang, but here the meat is browned first before being boiled in the water.


Soup almonds

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 soup almonds (in Hebrew "Shkedei Marak" שקדיי מרק-).

Portugal and Brazil

Chicken soup is known as Canja pt: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.


Chicken soup in Taiwan is usually prepared by boiling a whole chicken for an extended period of time. Rice wine, wolfberries, dried jujube fruits, ginseng, ginger, tea, and other various herbs can be added. The Korean samgyetang bears a similar resemblance to Taiwanese soup, but it is lighter in color and contains glutinous rice.

United Kingdom and Ireland

Chicken soup (or broth) in Britain is a clear and watery soup with chunky vegetables (such as carrot, celery and onion), chicken, salt and pepper. However cream of chicken soup is commonly more popular. This is a thick creamy soup generally with no vegetables in it.

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 "ABCs" or stars) have made it one of Campbell's best selling products.

Chicken soup in history and media

  • When Manilal Gandhi, son of Mahatma Gandhi, contracted typhoid and pneumonia, a doctor recommended chicken soup and eggs. As strict vegetarians, his parents would not agree to this, but Manilal received treatment and recovered.


The flavor of the chicken in chicken soup is most potent when the chicken is simmered 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.[7] 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".[8]


  1. ^ Chicken Broth On American Pig Dogs
  2. ^ Rennard BO, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, Robbins RA, Rennard SI (October 2000). "Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro". Chest 118 (4): 1150–7. PMID 11035691. 
  3. ^ Gundel, Karoly (1992). Gundel's Hungarian cookbook. Budapest: Corvina. ISBN 963-13-3600-X. OCLC 32227400. page 27
  4. ^ June Meyers Authentic Hungarian Heirloon Recipes Cookbook
  5. ^ a b Article: Chicken Soup-Culinary Poetry
  6. ^ What the Egg Was First - New York Times
  7. ^
  8. ^ Chicken soup revisited: Calcium content of soup increases with duration of cooking

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