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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 historical novel Exiled Down Under, and a member of the editorial team. She enjoys tinkering with recipes, and teaches cooking classes to young children. Miriam shares her love of cooking, baking and food photography on’s food blog, Cook It Kosher and in the N'shei Chabad Newsletter.
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Discussion (51)
January 27, 2015
I can't get matzah where I live, is there anything I can use instead, for my balls?? thanks!!
Zamora, España
December 28, 2014
garlic is best added to the bowl of soup, fresh, not cooked. Cooking garlic just kills all its antibacterial properties. You don't want to cook garlic other than a very quick saute sometimes with vegetables or rice but not boil it in a soup.
December 28, 2014
Chicken Soup
I have found using frozen chicken can produce a more cloudy soup.
Also, if you want a really clear beautiful soup, the most important step is the
shamming (skimming). I never need to pour my soup through a cheesecloth !
But I spend a long time shamming, as I know that's the most important step.
As for "rich and healthy", everyone's taste is unique, but we like a less rich, thinner soup. (Less fat=more health here) My soup is never watery, always full of flavor, but never so dark as this picture. There is nothing quite like that steaming Friday night bowl, is there? B"H !
December 28, 2014
May I add that for food safety, reheat only enough soup for eating.. Do not reheat the whole pot and place pot back in the refrigerator with leftover soup.
Check out food safety storage for soup on the web.
December 28, 2014
I use a bissel freshly grated ginger.
Chaiya Rivkah Monas
Toronto, ON
December 27, 2014
Cooking with local or certified organic chicken will make that Jewish penicillin much more healthy! The traditional slavic/yiddish recipe calls for the chicken feet to be added in the beginning because they are rich in vital collagen and vitamins! Organic bone broths and those from pasture raised animals (vs grain fed) may the most nourishing foods on the planet! Its a shame that most of the kosher beef and chicken I see being sold is full of antibiotics, hormones, and omega-6 fatty acid (think inflammatory) which accumulates in our bodies and the environment after eating. It is time to remember healthy nourishing food, traditions, and community. "Factory farming" is not a jewish phenomena! BH
Yakov Bolotin
December 25, 2014
feel at home
I make an enormous pot of chicken soup on Friday night. I dish out the first time, then when I offer the second time, I say "help yourself". I know when a guest feels really at home when he or she just goes to that pot and digs out the bits he likes most. That's my victory sign, the guest feels at home and will most probably come again. Very satisfying!
Hashmonaim, Israel
December 24, 2014
Osem Consomme Soup powder
Or any brand of powdered soup mix or boullion cube. It has lots of salt and adds a layer of flavor. I use the pareve one.
Natick, Massachusetts
December 24, 2014
I add alot of dried parsley and dried dill to the pot along with a sprinkle of turmeric. It gives the soup a glow and special taste. I use white pepper only to keep the broth from darkening. And, just letting it simmer quietly for a few hours allows the flavors to meld and the soup clear and clean.
December 23, 2014
In my family, the soup is served clear with rice (not with a matzah ball, except on Pesach, when rice is forbidden to Ashkenazim). A whole chicken is used, plus (and this is very important) beef bones. Not marrow bones, but plain cut up soup bones. They strengthen the soup enormously.

She left the vegetables whole so that they could contribute their flavor while leaving the broth clear.

My mother generously used the following veggies: onions, celery, carrots, parsley. [Avoid potatoes. They cloud the broth.]

I have slightly bent the rules above.

I add the juice of one lemon, or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to pull the strength out of the bones. I cut the veggles into large bite-sized pieces so people can enjoy the flavor and texture of the vegetables. I omit the rice.

You are right to refrigerate the soup and skim the fat and then reheat the soup without the fat. Simmer as long as possible, both the first time and the second time.

I get requests for seconds and thirds
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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 historical novel Exiled Down Under, and a member of the editorial team. She enjoys tinkering with recipes, and teaches cooking classes to young children. Miriam shares her love of cooking, baking and food photography on’s food blog, Cook It Kosher and in the N'shei Chabad Newsletter.