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Cook It Kosher

Traditional Chicken Soup

Traditional Chicken Soup

Jewish Penicillin


Between the flu and strep, it feels like everyone I know is sick these days, which means it’s time for a nice big pot of Jewish penicillin. Chicken soup!

No two pots of chicken soup are exactly alike, in my experience, and I don’t claim to have the very best chicken soup recipe in Jewish history. But it’s rich and healthy, and I’d love to share it with you.

You’ll need chicken, carrots, onion, celery, sweet potato, zucchini, fresh garlic, salt and, of course, water. Peel the carrots, sweet potato and onion. It’s best to leave the peel on the zucchini, or else it completely disintegrates in the soup. Cut the vegetables into chunks, not too small.

Put all the ingredients into the pot (it’s okay if the chicken is frozen) and bring to a rapid boil. Skim the surface and remove all floating scum. Turn down to a very low simmer, and cook for 4–6 hours. (The longer it simmers, the better the soup will be. You can even cook it longer.)

Let the soup cool and refrigerate it overnight. The fat will rise to the top and harden, making it easy to remove (see picture). Scoop off the fat and bring the soup back to a boil. Simmer until you’re ready to serve.

You can eat it plain, with matzah balls, or with the chicken and vegetables from the pot.

I’ll be sharing a number of different matzah ball recipes and techniques in a separate post. Stay tuned!

Tip: For a very clear broth, pour it through a cheesecloth.


  • 2 chicken bottoms (drumstick and thigh)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 zucchini
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt, or to taste
  • 12 cups water


  1. Peel the carrots, sweet potato and onions. Leave the peel on the zucchini.
  2. Cut the vegetables into chunks, not too small.
  3. Put all ingredients in the pot and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn it down to a very low simmer, and cook for 4 hours.
  4. Refrigerate the soup overnight. The fat will rise to the top and harden, so you can easily remove it.
  5. After you remove the fat, reheat and serve the soup.

Tip for a clear broth: Strain the soup through a cheesecloth.

Serves 8-10 (the longer it simmers, the more it will reduce)

Do you have any unusual chicken soup ingredients or tips? Share them in the comment section below.

Miriam Szokovski is the author of the historical novel Exiled Down Under, and a member of the editorial team. She shares her love of cooking, baking and food photography on’s food blog, Cook It Kosher.
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Marl USA via October 10, 2017

Ingredients I was taught to use My mom taught me to keep the brown skin on the onion - it gives the soup a beautiful color.

Always use fresh dill/parsley/parsnip/celery/carrot/leek. The celery is what the cook gets to eat once cooked. A fav of mine.

I usually will add fine noodles into an individual bowl for serving.

Nothing like a kosher chicken for the best soup. Too bad kosher chicken feet aren't available. Also, the unborn chicken eggs (yolks). Reply

rifka modiin illit September 3, 2017

regarding chicken soup. I leave out the garlic and add parsley and dill as well as the celery leaves (chopped them all up)
I add a colrabi, a tomato I leave out the sweet potato
for spices I add tumeric and hawig marak as well as black pepper and salt Reply

Lilian Chilton Banbury July 28, 2017

Just love my chicken noodle soup Reply

Sarah January 10, 2017

In addition to the veggies in the recipe, I also use 3-4 parsnips, celery root (needs to be cleaned thoroughly), Yukon potatoes, parsley and dill. Chicken feet or grass fed beef bones add a lot of richness and nutrients to the broth.
I put the chicken parts in a cheesecloth type bag, so I can easily "fish" it out of the broth. Reply

M. Wilson Toronto December 12, 2016

In addition to the veg, the herbs, and seasonings and chicken, I also add chicken's feet. After everything has simmered for a good long time and before cooling in the fridge I remove the feet.... this soup will cure anything that ails you. Reply

Malka August 3, 2016

As long as they eat it I just went back and read all the comments. All the variations sound scrumptious.
My husband tells me that as the oldest brother he was usually the last one home and all that was left of his mother's soup was liquid and the some "grease" on top! I can attest that her soup was delicious - carrots, celery, onions, chicken and I don't remember if she used parsley.I use a classic "Poilisher" recipe as taught by my grandmother which I sometimes vary with own twists. No matter what I do, seldom is my soup not delicious. The secret is to both smell and taste any soup and adjust to your liking.

Joanna Pittsburg August 2, 2016

I agree with those who don't want chicken soup to taste like kosher dill pickles. I would avoid adding either dill or garlic. But I would definitely include bones (not marrow!) Be sure to include yellow onions, a bunch of celery, a pound of carrots. And you don't have to remove anything. It's even OK to cut the vegetables into bite sized pieces and let them float in the clear broth. If you don't want to cut them up, then leave them whole and ladle out the broth into the bowls, and add hot cooked noodles or rice or knaidlach to each bowl. Reply

Anonymous ST Kilda East August 2, 2016

Defintely add dill. I put all the vegetables in a soup bag then easily removed once soup is ready. Should not boil, simply allow to simmer. Boiling makes soup cloudy. . Reply

Esther cinncinnati June 19, 2016

I love dill. In kosher pickles, not in soup.

Parsley yes. The soup needs parsley half a bunch of parsley and an entire bunch of celery along with a pound of carrots and a chicken (or a turkey) in a big pot. Holds gallons. Simmer it all day and put it in the fridge and skim it.
And be sure to include some beef bones. Not marrow bones. Just some sliced up beef bones--knuckle bones or whatever--for the calcium and flavor. The bones give it flavor and the bones cure whatever ails you. I have never frozen a soup. We manage to get it all eaten by the end of the week. Everyone always wants seconds and thirds. Reply

lizzy June 18, 2016

the only thing I would add is fresh dill to the pot for the start boiling the chicken and veggies. Granny Lizzy says its gotta have dill. Reply

Trudy Brown south Florida February 20, 2016

My mother taught me to add fresh parsley and dill one hour before the soup is done cooking and remove the hrrbs before refrigeration. She made the best soup ever. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 28, 2016

Jewish Penicillin I don't like celery, so my grandmother used parsnip Reply

Leah January 6, 2016

Esther I make an 8 quart pot every week. And we eat it never freeze it. Pesach is of course a whole other kitchen, a whole other story. But yeah every week, a pot of soup for Shabbos! Occasionally I will make only a 6 quart pot but usually the 8 quart. We are k"h 4 people and rarely have guests. Reply

Esther Queens January 4, 2016

Good for you, Leah~!

How many people do you feed with one chicken? My soup pot holds four gallons and I have enough left over to eat it throughout Pesach. I also make it for Rosh HaShanah, and my 20-plus guests ask for seconds and thirds, so I need more than one chicken, and I do need about two to four beef bones that give it strength without clouding up the clear bouillion. And, yes, skim it, and refrigerate overnight and skim it again, and heat it and skim it again.

Nothing like a good strong soup. That's why chicken soup cures whatever ails you. Not just any chicken soup; only the real thing.

I admit that I do not make chicken soup for Shabbos dinner. Only for Yomtov, and only for about 20 people, and even then enough left to last me for a week. I am not sure the pot holds four gallons. I never measured it; it may be eight gallons. It's my mother's pot, and her "recipe"--and, before that, HER mother's and before that I do not know. Reply

Leah January 4, 2016

you don't need so much really.... Less is more here. For clear beautiful bouillion, more water, less everything else. Longer cooking time makes it gold. Excellent shamming (skimming) job is an absolute must. Spend a lot of time skimming ! Then skim more ! Parsnip or Parsley Root absolutely essential. Obviously onion, carrot,celery real important but not much is needed. This is how I make clear, gold flavorful beautiful bouillon week after week. And I usually make it with 1 - just one - chicken breast - that's all. Not a ton of chicken needed. yes, cooked out onion should be removed to avoid having floating pieces in the soup. Reply

Esther Queens January 1, 2016

Parsley is fine. So are celery and/or carrots. Halved onions are essential. I can't imagine what sweet potatoes or zucchini in classic chicken soup. I guess if you want potato zucchini soup instead of chicken soup....

The chicken soup is supposed to be a clear broth, to which rice or noddles or dumplings can be added.

But if you want to avoid starch, cut the carrots and celery into bite-sized pieces to give the eater something to look at and to chew on. And, yes, it's good to strain out the parsley and onions after they have contributed their flavor. Reply

rachel levine- Sydney Australia. December 31, 2015

I love to read your Chicken Soup Recipe- how about adding some fresh Parsley? I use a lot - strain it all- and it is good.
warm wishes for our next Yomtovim- IH Pesach 2016- Ih.

it is now Reply

Gini Newark October 30, 2015

You must certainly can make it without sweet potatoes. Most people make it without potatoes of any kind. Use celery, carrots, onions, and parsley--the same as in all the Jewish cookbooks. Don't fancy shmancy it up with sweet potatoes or zuchini, for goodness sakes. The most important detail is to include lots of poultry backs and/or necks are good, but so are beef bones (NOT marrow bones, but if you can't find plain, you can use even those. Just be sure to skim the fat off after letting the pot rest in the fridge.)

Gini Reply

Sasha Russia October 29, 2015

Awesome recipe! Made it yesterday. Yum yum :) Reply

Renee Ridenour Hagerstown,M.D. October 24, 2015

I'm new to your article I love chicken soup, so when I read your chicken soup science I don't like sweet potatoes and zucchini could I substitute them with celery and white potatoes. Reply

Cook It Kosher features recipes from food blogger Miriam Szokovski, as well as guest bloggers and cookbook authors. Let us know if you’d like to contribute!
Miriam SzokovskiMiriam Szokovski is the author of the historical novel Exiled Down Under, and a member of the editorial team. She shares her love of cooking, baking and food photography on’s food blog, Cook It Kosher.
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