Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hearty Veggie & Chicken Soup

This is the perfect soup for that cold winter day & even more perfect if you're feeling under the weather!  I got the urge to make this soup when I felt a little crummy after getting my flu vaccine the other day; and since it was a brisk 12 degrees Fahrenheit outside this morning I felt it quite fitting to add this recipe today.  

Soups are one of my favorite things to cook in the kitchen; especially this type because it always turns out amazing with very little skill & talent required.  This recipe makes close to 10 servings (don't quote me on that number..it's an educated guess), so I'd advise to cut the recipe down if you don't want that much.  If you're anything like me and have very little limited time; I'd recommend making the whole pot of soup. - After cooking & cooling; portion soup into individual tupperware containers & refrigerate.  The next morning when you're rushing out of your home (as I usually am); don't worry about not having time to make lunch cause it's already waiting for you to grab-n-go!  Another thing to mention - this recipe is not exact.  My version varies from time to time; depending on what produce is in the fridge, what veggies are in season, or on sale.  This recipe is so versatile, and you can really get creative with it & make it your own.

On a side note, I would like to mention one healthful topics related to this recipe.  When I say it's "a perfect soup to have if you're feeling under the weather," I mean it!  There have been a handful of peer-reviewed scientific studies researching the benefits of chicken soup to provide relief from common cold symptoms.  How is chicken soup supposed to help a cold?  Unfortunately there is no one "magic ingredient" in chicken soup; it is rather thought that the multiple properties of the chicken soup (meat, vegetables, broth, herbs & spices) combined, are thought to decrease the inflammatory response associated with the common cold or flu.  The body's immune system responds to a cold or flu virus through an inflammatory response.  The symptoms and pathophysiology of a virus vary from one strain to another.  On the most basic scientific level: (1) a virus comes in contact through the skin, mucus membranes (nose, eyes, mouth) or inhalation of the virus; (2) the virus attaches to specific receptors (like antennas) on cells in the body; then (3) the inflammatory response begins.  Inflammatory mediators (i.e., Neutrophils; a type of white blood cell) then starts to fight off the virus by producing those cruddy cold symptoms we hate -- fever, aches, sore throat, stuffy nose, etc...  Neutrophils are good to help fight off the infection, but are also responsible for causing cold & flu symptoms.  Research conducted on chicken soup has demonstrated a decrease in neutrophil activity after consumption of warm chicken and vegetable soup!  Not only is this recipe good for you, it'll help you feel better if your sick!  So now you can give your mom a big "thanks"if she's ever made you chicken soup while you were sick.  Okay, now back to the recipe.

Hearty Veggie & Chicken Soup


  • feeling1 small fresh roasted chicken*
  • 48 oz low sodium chicken stock (or broth)
  • 29 oz no-salt added diced canned tomatoes; undrained
  • 4 large stalks of celery; chopped
  • 4 large carrots; chopped
  • 2 parsnips; chopped
  • 2 zucchini; chopped
  • 2 yellow squash; chopped
  • 1 bell pepper; seeded & chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion; diced
  • 1-2 cups dark greens (kale, swiss chard or collards); torn into pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic; minced
  • 2 hot peppers; seeded & minced**
  • 1/2 cup fresh italian parsley; chopped***
  • juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime 
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest (optional - for an extra kick of citrus flavor)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried paprika
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • dash ground cayenne pepper

*You can find whole roasted chickens in the deli section of your local grocer.  Money saving tip - look for any leftover (from the previous day) roasted chickens in the cold meat section of your grocer.  These are usually sold at half the price!
**I usually use a combination of one spicy Habanero pepper with a milder jalapeƱo or Serrano pepper. Use caution when cutting; try to wear tight fitting gloves which will prevent your fingers from burning (I've learned my lesson & always take precaution now!) ...here's a helpful video I found on how to handle a Habanero Chili Pepper.
***Can substitute cilantro for parsley; or a combination of both if you'd like


Cut and prepare all soup ingredients.  Heat a large stock pot (5-6 qt) over the stove to medium-high; add olive oil.  Add garlic, stir until fragrant and light brown.  Stir in onion, carrots, celery, parsnips and hot peppers; cook about 3-4 minutes (when onion begins to look translucent).  While these are cooking, stir in the dried seasonings (bay leaf, thyme, black pepper, paprika, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes & cayenne pepper).  Next, stir in zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, canned tomatoes, dark greens, parsley, lemon juice, lime juice, and lemon zest (optional).  Stir ingredients, then pour chicken stock into pot.  Turn your stove up to high-heat, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a gentle simmer (low-heat).
While the soup is simmering, shred the chicken meat off the bone into bite-size pieces; making sure to remove any visible skin & fat.  Add shredded chicken to the soup, cover & continue to simmer on low-heat for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are at your desired tenderness.  The longer it simmers, the better the flavor & always tastes better the second day!  This hearty soup pairs well with cornbread, whole-wheat dinner rolls, or warmed corn tortillas.

Oh yes, before I forget....Don't Throw Away That Chicken Carcass!!!
Save those leftover chicken parts & bones to make your own chicken broth.  Not only does homemade chicken broth taste great, the low sodium makes it better for you & your heart; and it's a great way to save money!  Here's a simple chicken broth recipe from Better Homes & Gardens.  Even easier method: prepare broth in a Crock Pot/slow-cooker instead of the stove-top version.  If you don't want to make the broth right away, store leftover chicken parts in an air-tight container or bag; then freeze for later use.