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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 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 (66)
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.)

October 29, 2015
Awesome recipe! Made it yesterday. Yum yum :)
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.
Renee Ridenour
September 20, 2015
I did not mean chopper onion. That was a typo. I meant chopped onion.

It goes without saying that you must skim the fat off the top, either before or after you refrigerate it. And use a very large pot, enough to hold at least two gallons of water. I am assuming you have ten or 20 very hungry guests who will want seconds or even thirds.

You will notice, when you refrigerate it, that it gels. That's because of the minerals and collagen in the bones. This is the kind of soup that cures colds, or anything else that ails you.
Ann Arlosoroff Vise Nunes
September 11, 2015
Soup needs bones, especially beef soup bones, but also the bony parts of the chicken or turkey--necks, wings, backs. Plus one whole chicken or turkey. Kosher poultry or meat is already salted plenty but if you must add salt, use sea salt.

Cut veggies into bite-sized slices & you can skip rice & noodles (we don't need the starch). Cut them diagonally, for beauty and mouth feel.

The proper veggies:
A pound of carrots, a bunch of celery (well cleaned), several yellow onions (either chopped fine--and possibly sauteed in coconut oil--or merely peeled and cut in half), & a bunch of parsley, properly rinsed in salt water to get rid of microscopic bugs, then rinsed in clear water & added either whole (and easily removed) or chopped fine & added with the chopper onion. Put into a large pot and cover with distilled water or other water that you trust plus the juice of one lemon.

This makes a strong soup that feeds 25 even if they want seconds. It doesn't need any herbs or spices.
Ann Arlosoroff Vise Nunes
September 9, 2015
Must add dill and lots of cut up parsnips in lieu of salt add chicken bullion . There is a root vegetable (parsnip looking with long green leaves on top) that I would find in New York but not here in Atlanta. .Looking forward to others
esther rothstein
September 7, 2015
Our family recipe is very simple: chicken, 2-3 stalks celery,4-5 carrots cut up, a lg onion cut up, a sprig of parsley, a very quick dash of salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, turn down low, cook until the chicken is fork tender. Remove chicken. Continue to cook on low until "done". Skim at beginning and later until no brown stuff on top. Remove sprig of parsely and discard. If celery is whole, discard. Skim at beginning and later until no brown stuff on top. Skim fat as much as possible or cool, refrigerate and remove fat before heating. If too weak, cook down more, if too strong, add water.
This is for a 6-8 qt pot. Follow same for larger pot and more chicken(s) increasing vegetables accordingly.
Cook matzo balls separately and added before serving or drop directly into boiling soup to cook(lower fire when done). Cook noodles, drain and serve in bowl with the soup.
For Pesach and Succos I use the water from boiling a big pot of sweet potatoes.
September 3, 2015
I always add Parsnips Turnips celery root and a knob of ginger and lemon and lemon zest
Stamford CT
September 1, 2015
I can't wait to try these recipes...just like Mamma used to make!
Rockville, MD
June 4, 2015
Can't Get Matzo -Seiren in Spain
Any kind of plain cracker will work, or semolina and other cereals. Even flour can produce a dumpling which can be mixed with eggs and other ingredients to reach the texture you want. This could include mashed potato, some finely chopped or ground nuts, sauteed onion, a stuffing, or chopped herbs. Any additions which make them special and tasty will produce genuine Jewish matzo balls!
Natick, Massachusetts
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.