This seems to have been the holiday season of getting sick. Everyone I know, including me, has been under the weather lately. This simple, delicious and super-healing turmeric chicken soup is for all of us dragging around with the sniffles right now (and also for those of us who want to avoid coming down with the sniffles — or worse). It’s the easiest chicken soup I’ve made in a while, mainly because it uses chicken parts, rather than a whole chicken, doesn’t require making or buying broth (though you could use if for an even richer soup), and doesn’t require any real-deal straining of broth.
I begin by simmering on-the-bone chicken parts (I’ve made this with chicken breasts alone and breasts + thighs, both with good results) in water with aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, fennel tops, garlic, ginger) for about an hour to create a light and flavorful broth. Then I fish out the chicken and vegetables with a spider (or slotted spoon), discarding the vegetables and reserving the chicken to be added back in towards the end.
Next to assemble the soup I add chopped veggies, ginger, garlic, jalapeño, turmeric and a few other spices, a Parmigiano rind (because always a Parm rind!), and cooked brown rice to the broth. (I like to use cooked brown rice so it doesn’t soak up too much of the broth and leave me with something more like risotto than soup.) After this mixture has simmered together for about 30 minutes I add the shredded chicken, cook for a few minutes more and then finish the soup with lots of lemon juice and chopped fresh parsley. Delicious!
The brown rice creates a rich, velvety broth and makes the soup more hearty and satisfying; ginger, garlic and turmeric are ultra-soothing, antiviral and immunity-boosting; and lemon is the perfect zesty finishing touch and adds a boost of much-needed vitamin C. I like my soup with a spicy kick from jalapeño and red chile flakes, but you can tone it down to suit your taste. This soup gets better over the next couple of days after it’s made, and freezes well. Make sure to stock a few servings in the freezer for a snowy day — winter’s only just beginning!
Turmeric chicken and brown rice soup
2 large onions, one cut into quarters and the other diced (divided)
2 large carrots, one cut into chunks and the other diced (divided)
4 celery stalks, 2 cut into chunks and the remaining stalks diced (divided)
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced (if stalks are attached save them for the broth)
10 large garlic cloves, 5 peeled and left whole, 5 peeled and sliced (divided)
5 slices of fresh ginger + 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped (divided)
2-1/2 pounds chicken parts (bone-in breasts and/or thighs)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
2 bay leaves
Piece of Parm rind
2 cups cooked brown rice
juice of 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving
chopped fresh parsley
salt and black pepper
To make the soup base, combine quartered onion, carrot chunks, celery chunks, fennel stalks and trimmings, whole garlic cloves, ginger slices, and chicken parts in a soup pot. Add water to cover (about 8 cups) and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour. Remove chicken pieces with tongs and set aside. Remove vegetables, garlic and ginger with a spider or slotted spoon and discard.
Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, turmeric, coriander, chile flakes, bay leaves, Parm rind and brown rice to the pot. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones from chicken. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces and add to soup. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and lemon wedges.