When you’re looking for healthy, easy, balanced meals for your family, nothing can be simpler to make than a pot of homemade chicken soup. You’ve probably heard that chicken soup is as an effective way to stay healthy (especially in the cold winter months) but a delicious bowl of homemade chicken soup can be so much more. Chicken soup is the ultimate, low-calorie comfort food, packed with good for you protein and vegetables. It provides amino acids, vitamins, minerals, water for hydration and fiber to keep you feeling full longer while helping keep you and your family’s diet on track.
Chicken soup is an easy to make one-pot meal that is full of flavor and even tastier when reheated. It’s a balanced meal that can be served for dinner or warmed and served one bowl at a time. It makes an ideal snack for hungry kids after school or when your family doesn’t all show up for dinner at the same time. Traditional chicken soup only requires a handful of ingredients or it can be loaded up with additional vegetables and starches. I like to double the recipe and make it in bulk to freeze for those nights when we don’t feel like cooking.
I’ve selected one of my favorite, easy-to-prepare chicken soup recipes below. One bowl is low in calories and fat and high in protein so adding additional carbohydrates to the meal to achieve the 40-30-30 ratio is easy. I serve it with a large mixed greens salad topped with fresh tomatoes, sliced red onions, red peppers, olives or avocado and tossed with olive oil and vinegar salad dressing.
You can also add either egg noodles, diced potatoes, wild or brown rice, beans, corn, or peas to the soup recipe for additional carbohydrates. I like to make the broth using a whole chicken (including the bones) to improve the flavor and overall nutrients. For even more convenience and flavor, I buy a pre-cooked, rotisserie chicken.
Old-Fashioned Chicken Soup Recipe
- 1 whole rotisserie chicken
- 1 medium onion, chopped and quartered
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, halved
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 3 quarts of cold water
Directions: Remove the meat from the rotisserie chicken and shred or cube to add to the broth later. Cover and refrigerate. In a large, 4-quart soup pot, combine remaining chicken skin and bones, onion, carrot and celery pieces, garlic, bay leaf, parsley, salt and pepper and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour. Remove and discard skin, bones and solids, then strain through a fine mesh sieve.
Old-Fashioned Chicken Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion cut into 1/2” pieces
- 1 carrot cut into 1/2” pieces
- 1 celery stalk cut into 1/2” pieces
- Cubed or shredded chicken (about 4 cups)
- Chicken broth (above recipe)
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Directions: In a large soup pot, heat oil and cook onion, carrot, and celery ‘till softened and beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add chicken, broth, salt and pepper to taste and simmer 15-20 minutes.
Each 1 cup serving: About 120 calories, 3g carbohydrates, 20g protein, 4g fat
Note: If adding either noodles, potatoes, rice, or beans, be sure to pre-cook them first. Add only 2 cups to soup just before serving.
When one-pot meals are high in protein and low in carbohydrates and fat, you can balance the meal by adding a large salad with veggies and salad dressing. Other options include a slice of crusty whole grain bread with a little olive oil or 4-5 black or green olives and a glass of wine and still be in your 40-30-30 zone.
So warm up with a pot of the ultimate comfort food. Your family will love the welcoming aroma of a simmering bowl of homemade chicken soup and it will be good for your soul just knowing all of its health benefits.
Joyce Daoust is a Certified Nutritionist, Balance Bar Spokesperson and national best selling co-author of THE FORMULA, A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program.