Friday, February 18, 2011

Healing Chicken Ginger Soup

I have been making this soup a lot these days. It is spicy, warming, and healing....just perfect to help kick this cold I've had. First I make a simple broth using bone-in chicken breasts, a bunch of chopped fresh ginger, a whole head of garlic, fresh lemongrass, and a few cups of chopped shiitake mushrooms. Once this has simmered for a few hours, I strain it and add fresh vegetables, the cooked chicken, and some Thai rice noodles into the pot. We top each bowl with chopped napa cabbage, basil, and cilantro. And for the grown-ups only, sliced fresh Thai chiles!

Shiitake mushrooms provide polysaccharides that stimulate white blood cell function allowing them to be more efficient at combatting bacteria and viruses. Ginger is healing on many fronts. It is anti-microbial, anti-viral, and a natural antibiotic, killing bacteria and viruses both internally and externally. It can help soothe a sore throat, eliminate congestion, and help combat fevers and chills.

The soup itself is not too spicy and perfect for young children to eat. All of our children love this soup and have fun adding all of the toppings, except for the chiles. The broth is very nourishing and will have you feeling good almost immediately. I've been making double batches lately so I can have leftovers. Hot, clear foods are very beneficial for colds and upper respiratory infections. Try hot tea with ginger and lemon, warm quinoa porridge, or my Healing Quinoa Cabbage Soup. Cold foods can increase congestion so it is best to avoid them until you are feeling better.

Healing Chicken Ginger Soup

My mom always made homemade chicken soup using a whole chicken when I was growing up. I've never made chicken soup using a store-bought chicken broth. Once you make soup this way, you'll never want to go back. The broth is just so fresh and delicious! If you would like to use a whole chicken for this soup instead of the two chicken breasts, simply double the ingredients for the broth and the soup and use an 8 or 12-quart pot instead. Be sure to add the rice noodles to each individual bowl if you plan to have leftovers. Adding them to the whole pot and then reheating the soup the next day can cause the noodles to get quite mushy. This soup also freezes very well, just don't add the noodles or the raw toppings to your freezable portions. Fresh Thai chilies and lemongrass can be found at places like Whole Foods or at your local Asian Market. 

Yield: 6 servings

For the Broth:
2 bone-in organic chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)
8 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 whole head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh ginger (or more!)
2 to 3 Thai chiles, chopped or 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
2 cups chopped shiitake mushrooms
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, chopped
cilantro stems
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 teaspoons Herbamare or sea salt

For the Soup:
1 medium onion, cut into crescent moons
3 to 4 stalks celery, sliced into diagonals
3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 to 3 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
cooked chicken pulled from the bone and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional Additions/Toppings:
rice noodles
chopped fresh basil
chopped fresh napa cabbage
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped fresh Thai green chiles

To make the broth, place all ingredients for broth into a 6-quart pot. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat medium-low and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain broth into a large bowl or another pot using a colander. Place chicken breasts onto a plate to cool. Pour the broth back into the pot. Once the chicken is cooled, remove the skin, pull the meat from the bone and chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Place all of the veggies for the soup (onion, carrot, celery, and shiitake mushrooms) into the pot with the broth. Cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer a minute or two more or until vegetables are cooked to your liking. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a handful of basil, cilantro, and cabbage on top. Stir in 1-2 drops of essential oils to each bowl for more flavor and beneficial plant chemicals (ginger, cilantro, and lemongrass essential oils work well in this recipe). Sprinkle with Thai chiles if desired. You can also add a handful of cooked Thai rice noodles to each bowl if desired. Squeeze a little lime juice over each bowl. Make sure to have some tissues handy if you are using the Thai chiles! Source:

More Healing Recipes:
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
Summer Vegetable Kitcheree
Soothing Tummy Tea

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. I would have this even if I didn't have a cold! I love anything with ginger and garlic and they are the prefect healing foods for when you are sick.

  2. Man does this sound wonderful. I'm wondering if I could get my picky son to eat this in some form or another. I might need to make it into a meatball. He won't eat soups but he'll eat meatballs. Love the mushroom, ginger and peppers! I'm adding all of this to my shopping list I'm working on. I'll let you know about the meatball version too.

  3. That soup looks so warm and comforting Ali, and perfect for actually preventing colds too I bet!

    Get better soon!

  4. I'm always looking for ideas for healing foods, and this soup sounds wonderful. Soups are the best way to regain strength when appetites are low.

  5. Ali, your Asian veggie stock is perhaps my favorite recipe in your cookbook. I use it to make chicken stock (in fact I made some two days ago), and it has really seen me through this terribly cold winter (in Minneapolis) and some rough colds/bouts of flu. Honestly, thank you!

  6. Mmmm..I bet this makes the whole house smell divine! I'm going to make this tommorow. Love anything warming with ginger and garlic when I'm sick. The lemongrass and mushrooms will make a wonderful addition too. Can't wait to try it. Thanks for ALL your wonderful recipes and info. Your book is open on my cookbook stand in my kitchen right now. I use it constantly. Thanks!

  7. I am curious (or ignorant :) ... what do you do with the veggies you used to make your broth? I have the same problem with almond milk ... what do I do with the ground almonds? Thanks!

  8. I love the Ginger and shiitakes in this soup. I always have either chicken backs and wings or already made chicken broth around for various recipes, so I'm sure I could use some for this. Hugs!

  9. I woke up yesterday with cold, and can't wait to try this today. Thanks for always sending a recipe at just the right time!

  10. I woke up yesterday with swollen glands. I need someone to make me some soup just like this!

  11. Oh my...this looks so light and flavorful. Nothing is better than a good soup!

  12. I made this soup last night and it was AMAZING! I added a little more lemongrass than called for, but otherwise, simply delicious! My 4-yr old son loved it as well. This will be my new go-to soup for the season!

  13. Going to make this baby tonight. Evan has some chest stuff that simple green wouldn't be able to touch. I will give you a prognosis after a couple of bowlfuls...


  14. Delicious! I made this tonight with a small (teeny-tiny 1.2 lb) whole chicken. Unfortunately I had to use a lot of extra water to cover it up in the broth phase, so I think I missed out on some of the flavor. I would add a LOT more ginger and lemongrass next time. But the soup is still very yummy, and I cannot seem to get enough of the fresh herbs on top! Great job.

  15. I made this for dinner after DH had oral surgery. It is very flavorful and filling. There were a couple of modifications. The stock was made from a chicken carcus in the crockpot and cooked overnight. Some leftover rice was added to the soup and the individual servings garnished with cilantro and lime wedges. We both really enjoyed the wonderful combinations of flavors.

  16. This looks delicious! I'm bookmarking this one to make next time I get to the grocery store!

  17. Almost makes me want to get sick just to have an excuse to try this soup!! Tee hee hee.
    Peace & Raw Health,

  18. Instead of throwing away the ingredients that make up the broth, I blended it all together with the broth and had that as the base of the soup. Then with the other whole ingredients added, its not pretty looking, but tastes amazing!

  19. This soup was great, definitely took some time to prepare but well worth it. Next time I might add some more chillies, I like it spicy!!

  20. I cannot speak highly enough of this soup! As I type this, I am sipping on a cup of the broth. Having made the soup earlier in the week to share with friends, I made a new batch (just the broth, this time) a mere three days later. I'm struggling with a head cold, and the warmth - from the temperature, but also from the ginger and garlic - is so very soothing. The best part, though, is that it tastes SO wonderful! Thanks for teaching me to (finally) make great broth!

  21. Just made the soup today. It was well worth the effort and picking up extra ingredients not usually on my shopping list. My boys gobbled it up no problem. Will be sharing some with my neighbor tomorrow! This recipe is a keeper.

  22. Made this today - another delicious, warm, and comforting soup. Thank you!

  23. My mom is having a bad cold. I think I'm gonna surprise her with this soup.

  24. This looks delicious. It could be made grain-free by subbing those fresh kelp noodles for the rice noodles. (I'm always looking for a way to use them!) Thanks.

  25. I finally made this, and it's delicious! To use up the veggies from the broth, I blended them separately with some water and it made a delicious creamy soup. So I got two soups out of the recipe. :) Thanks Ali!

  26. I just made this soup last night and it is delicious! Perfect because I have a head and chest cold. I followed the recipe exactly as stated, except I added a few star anise since I had some on hand.

  27. I just made this soup last night and it is delicious! I followed the recipe as stated except I added a few star anise since I had some on hand and wanted to enhance the Asian flavor theme happening with this soup. I have a head and chest cold and this soup really feels healing!

  28. Just made this for dinner. It was amazing. I can't wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow. I love Asian cuisine but have never been able to capture it in my own kitchen. Bingo!

  29. WOW! Another winner! Daughter not a fan of mushrooms, etc. but was a fan of the broth with just the chicken so I set an edited version aside for her.

    I also saved the stock veggies, picked out the whole peppercorns, and used my immersion blender to add them to a pre-made Butternut Squash soup to make a second soup. Yum!

  30. Best Soup I have ever made! Full Flavor and so nutritious--it's fantastic. Will be my go to soup from now on for weekday meals. Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

  31. Panicked a little today, not sure if it was you or if someone else linked it via reddit back early December, but the wife made this soup and it was amazing! Decided make it again today and couldn't find the recipe, luckily the google force was with us today and we found it again! Going to do a better job saving it this time!

    Many thanks!


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)