Homemade chicken soup — deliciously healthy and healing

A few weeks ago I posted about Ava being sick, and about our ‘sick day’ family traditions. I loved reading about all of your families’ sick-day traditions too, and I thought it was especially amazing to hear that most of us still remember being sick as a child ourselves. We seem to have such warm and happy memories of those days — even though we must have been in pain and discomfort at the time. Apparently the extra bit of love and care we received during those sick days long ago have become special, lovely memories for the rest of our lives.

In the end, I had Ava at home with me for over a week. She had a sinus and ear infection on both sides, and was feeling so very miserable. I kept her on the sofa in that special orange sleeping bag, and gave her ear drops, spoon fed her vanilla yoghurt (a treat!) and put cold washcloths on her warm forehead. I also made a big pot of delicious, homemade chicken soup.

homemade chicken soup

Apparently it is scientifically proven — homemade chicken soup is said to help open the airways and fight infections. In any case, it is delicious, and I do tell my children that all of the love I pour into the soup will make them feel better instantaneously. And so it does :).

homemade chicken soup

Homemade chicken soup

My chicken soup basically consists of a couple of phases. First, I make the stock, using an entire chicken, skin, bones and all. I let it simmer for half a day. The house smells lovely when the pot is simmering away!

I then carefully fish out the chicken to get rid of the skin and bones, keeping all of the meat separate in a bowl, together with the carrot. I strain the rest of the soup through a colander and then a sieve, and at this point, I serve everyone a cup of broth in which I quickly cooked some vermicelli, with a few slices of carrot and some of the chicken.

Then, the broth stays in the fridge overnight (or outside if it’s cold enough). The next morning I skim off the fat of the soup, which I use to make the matzo balls. The next round of soup will have the matzo balls and the remainder of the carrot in it. Finally, I add some fresh vegetables and vermicelli for the last round of chicken soup goodness.

homemade chicken soup


  • 1 whole chicken, skin on, about 2 kg
  • around 8 normal sized carrots (if you use big storage carrots, obviously use less!)
  • 3 medium sized (or 2 large) onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • the stalks of one bunch of parsley (the leaves are not used — but do save them for other recipes!)
  • one bunch of dill, stalks and leaves separate (some of the leaves are used to garnish the soup, the rest for the matzo balls)
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper corns
  • 1 teaspoon of (kosher) salt
  • 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 to 4 bay leaves
  • vermicelli (soup noodles)

For matzo balls:

  • 1 cup matzo meal (or grind your own in a food processor — 100 grams matzo crackers makes about one cup)
  • 3 tablespoons of (the before mentioned) chicken fat
  • 3 large (or 4 small) eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground)
  • dill leaves


Rinse the chicken with cold water and place it in a big stockpot. Cover it completely with cold water. Put the lid on, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let simmer for around half an hour. In the meantime, prep you veggies: wash the carrots and cut in thirds. Peel the onions and cut in half. Peel the garlic cloves. Wash the herbs.

Then, skim off the scum on top of the chicken (discard) and add the carrots, onions and garlic to the pot, together with the parsley stalks, the stalks of the dill, the thyme, bay leaves, salt and peppercorns. Let simmer (lid on) for at least two hours (or better, half a day).

homemade chicken soup

Turn off the heat. Ladle out the chicken (I like using a flat round slotted spoon), and put it in a bowl. Fish out the carrot as well. Then, put a colander over a big bowl and ladle the soup through. Discard of everything except the chicken and the carrot (and that beautiful, golden chicken stock, of course!). Then, pull the meat off the bones of the chicken with your hands (it is as soft as butter now!). It’s a messy but fun thing to do :). Get rid of all of the bones, as well as the skin.

I like to strain the stock through a sieve to make it extra clear. Now put the clear stock back in to the pot. I like to keep the chicken and the carrot separate. At this point, you could be done — just ladle some of the stock in a smaller pot, add a bit of vermicelli, cook for 7 minutes, and serve in bowls over some of the chicken, slices of the carrot and with a sprinkle of the dill leaves (leave some of the dill behind for the matzo balls though!). Keep the stock, the chicken and the carrots in the fridge and heat up sections as needed. The stock freezes well too!

homemade chicken soup

If you would like to make matzo balls, however, there is a step two :). Cool the stock overnight (in the fridge or outside if it’s cold enough). Next morning, skim off three tablespoons of the fat layer on top of the soup. You will need this fat to make the matzo balls. (If you prefer, you can also skim off all of the fat at this point.) Put all of the matzo ball ingredients in a bowl and mix them up with a wooden spoon until it’s well blended. Leave in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

homemade chicken soup

Using cold and clean hands, start rolling the matzo balls. I make around 30 with these amounts, but I don’t like my balls too big ;). If your hands get sticky, wash them and continue rolling! You can try rolling them with wet hands too. Carefully drop your matzo balls in the boiling water, one by one, and cook them for 30 minutes (40 min if you made bigger balls). Using a slotted spoon, take out the cooked matzo balls and discard of the cooking water.

Now serve your soup with the matzo balls, yum! You can add the carrot, the chicken, some vermicelli, perhaps some spring onion… with a sprinkle of dill.

Feel better, feel good, feel great!

xxx Esther


Comments (10)

March 11, 2019

Looks (and I’m sure it smells) delicious! I wonder, where did you learn to cook it so professionally?

Esther in Amsterdam
March 11, 2019

Oh haha thank you for finding my soup professional! This is just your everyday chicken soup the way my grandmother and mother made it. The matzo balls I researched a long time ago and I have adjusted the method to my liking over the years. x

March 11, 2019


March 11, 2019

Looks tasty, I’m always ready to tinker with chicken soup. But please don’t combine pasta with matzah balls. Matzah balls are frequently made during Passover, when Jews abstain from bread and pasta. Even at other times of the year, they just don’t go together.

Esther in Amsterdam
March 11, 2019

To each his own!

March 11, 2019

Wow! This looks absolutely delicious. I’ll definitely have to try your recipe out 🙂

March 12, 2019

Delicious Esther! Thank you so much for sharing!

March 12, 2019

Love chicken soup. I put dumplings on top of thus and stews. I make mine with half flour, half cornmeal, butter, milk and herbs. So good!

March 11, 2020

Love this. For my work lunches I make a chicken soup in the slow cooker using a whole chicken, with celery, carrots and onions. After it is cooked I remove the skin and bones, and add brown rice. I feel the goodness and deliciousness of it all as I eat.

Esther in Amsterdam
March 27, 2020


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