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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 (38)
October 28, 2014
I add fresh raw garlic inn the bowl of soup
Rose schonberger
Ny, usa
October 9, 2014
Cayenne Pepper!
I sometimes add a pinch of Cayenne pepper to my chicken soup to give it a wee kick! Strange I know.
September 14, 2014
Parsnips! Much like yams, my grandmother added a small parsnip for a little added flavour and sweetness. I've never been able to duplicate her soup. The vegetables were pulled straight from her garden, and the chicken purchased from the butcher, and...I know it was the love.
Edmonton, Canada
August 21, 2014
anything you throw in the pot with chicken & vegetables will do
don't forget to add water
rose schonberger
ny, usa
August 20, 2014
apinch of saffron will give it great color
Dorothy Greenzang
boise idahol
April 21, 2014
Sweet potato? Zucchini?? I grew up in the Bronx, NY, and I never even saw zucchini until I was over twenty. My mother's approach to chicken soup: put a chicken in a pot. Put water in to cover it., Add an onion and a carrot, cut up. Cook it until people get home. If there's water left in the pot, you've got soup. If the water's all boiled away, you've got chicken. Put whatever's left of the chicken back in the pot, add a lot of water, and the next day you have soup again. Or maybe not, if people get home late. Then scrape the bones clean and you've got chicken salad, with a little mayonnaise. The chicken should last from Friday until Tuesday, if you add a potato or two.
Delray Beach, FL
February 27, 2014
Green herbs for chicken soup
One of my Caribbean cleaning women told me that in her home country, as the various bunches of green herbs do not last, no sooner do they buy them, then they are washed, and made into a "pesto consistence"

A little oil is added.

The lot is put in glass jars and kept in the coldest part of the fridge and amounts are added to soups, and all sorts of stews they are needed.

Use different herb mixes and refrigerate them. I have been doing this for a long time.
Edna Turner
February 26, 2014
Not big on Matzoh balls , I have used a really good recipe handed down from my Parents
First of all , many supermarkets, while not carrying a range of Kosher foods, like meat and cheese, do have in the produce section a soup kit. This includes, carrots, onions, celery, turnip, parsnip, and even leeks. Added are also some dill and parsley. The dill and parsley don't keep very well , because they are wrapped in plastic and I would advise buying extra flat leaf parsley and dill. I also dry some. I use usually Chicken Leg and thigh. Dark meat works the best. I have used butternut squash and had it in someones house where Chopped Garlic was added. Mine is something I am proud of. I have shared it will ill relatives and neighbors. Even strained of the vegetables for broth it is a good bet.
Joyce Oxfeld
February 16, 2014
kneidelach (matza balls) very easy, always succeeds
1 1/2 cups matza meal
1 1/2 cups boiling water
4 eggs
4 Tbls. oil
1 tsp.salt
1 pinch black pepper

put matza meal in a bowl. pour boiling water on top of it.
add eggs and rest of ingredients. Mix very well, preferably in mixer. At this point the mixture will appear too loose but it thickens in the refrigerator. Chill for two hours. Drop balls from spoon into salted boiling water. Boil for about 1/2 hour or longer. Enjoy!
February 12, 2014
My chix soup and matza balls (knoedel) are tastier
I use a whole chicken . Remove as much fat as you are able to.

Pour boiling water all over it., and use a pressure cooker to cook.

2 zucchinis, 1 carrot, 1 onion, one leak, one turnip, one tomato. Chopped parsley and coriander. 1 tbsp turmeric, 1 tbsp paprika, one inch ginger sliced, salt and pepper to taste. 5 cups of boiling water.

Remove from heat 45 mins after the pressure cooker starts chuff chuffing . Let cool. Remove chix and veggies from the soup, and refrigerate everything overnight. The remaining fat will solidify on the surface of the soup, and can easily be removed with a slotted spoon.


As for the knoedel, I add powder ginger, and finely chopped coriander.
Edna Turner
Montreal. Canada
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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.