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Basic Chicken Soup



Basic Chicken Soup

Once you’ve cooked the chicken, this soup is a snap to make. If you’d like to make your own broth, check out our Chicken Broth recipe or take the simple route and use boxed broth.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 10 to 12 cups

kitchen gear

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife (adult needed)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup
  • Large heavy-bottomed pot
  • Wooden spoon


  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed or peeled and sliced
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or more, if you like it more brothy)
  • 1⁄2 cup brown rice, barley, or small pasta (such as alphabets or orzo)
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken


  • Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. When it is hot (flick some water on it – it should dance and evaporate immediately) carefully add the oil.
  • Add the onion, celery, and carrots, and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender and no longer float on the top, about 30 minutes.
  • Add the rice, barley, or pasta and cook until tender, about 20 minutes for pasta, 40 minutes for brown rice or barley. (If you want you can use leftover grains or pasta. If so, skip this step and add them when you add the chicken, step 5. This will also cut 20 minutes off the cooking time.)
  • Add the chicken, stir, and cook until heated throughout, about 3 minutes.
  • Serve right away or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.


Lemony Chicken Soup: Add 1 bay leaf and one strip lemon zest when you add the stock. Remove both before serving.
Herby Chicken Soup: Add 1 teaspoon dried marjoram (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh), 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh), and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh. If you’re using dried herbs, add them when you cook the veggies. If you’re using fresh herbs, stir them in right before serving the soup.
Garlicky Ginger Soup: Add 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root and 1-2 garlic cloves, minced, when you add the onion.
Curried Chicken Soup: When you cook the veggies, add 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cubed, 1-2 tablespoons curry powder, and 1 tomato, cubed. Stir in 1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves just before serving.
Lettuce Eat Chicken Soup: Add 6 leaves romaine lettuce or spinach, chopped, when you add the rice, barley or pasta, and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese just before serving.
Basil Chicken Soup: Swirl in 1-2 tablespoons pesto just before serving.
Tortilla Soup: Skip the rice, barley or pasta and stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, the juice of half a lime, and a handful of tortilla chips just before serving.
Tortellini Soup: Add cooked tortellini instead of the rice, barley, or small pasta.
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