By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
You’ve been working long hours and/or caring for children, temps outside are frigid, and your loved ones are under the weather. Nothing sounds better than hot chicken soup for dinner, but you want something healthy and fresh – not from a can. And a good, healthy chicken soup takes significant time and energy to make…Or does it?
Is Chicken Soup from Scratch Healthier than a Soup Made with Shortcuts?
I’ll be the first to admit, the bone broth you get from simmering a whole chicken for a few hours is the ideal base for chicken soup. Bone broth is full of collagen, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients that help combat inflammation and seasonal bugs. But when you don’t have two-plus hours to make a homemade chicken soup from scratch, store-bought chicken broth is just fine… Just be sure to buy actual broth, not bouillon cubes, powder or base (paste – which may contain artificial flavors like MSG), and choose organic broth – it’s higher vibrational than broth made from conventionally-raised chickens.
My Easy & Healthy Chicken Soup Recipe
As promised, this recipe is super easy and should save you about 1.5 hours of prep and cook time.
- Two 36oz boxes of organic chicken broth
- 2-3 thinly sliced organic chicken breasts, or a small package of organic chicken tenders
- ½ to 1 cup of chopped onion – white, red or yellow
- 1-2 cups of carrots – shredded are easiest, you can also slice baby carrots into rounds, as I did in this recipe, or peel and slice whole carrots.
- 2-3 cups of organic baby spinach or organic kale
- 2 medium or 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½” cubes
- 4 to 6 tsp of Italian seasoning / spices
- 6 Tbsp Cold-pressed olive oil – extra virgin or flavored olive oil (basil, garlic or Fresno chili)
- Optional – chopped celery, organic bell peppers, or squash
- Optional – 1-2 cloves chopped garlic or 2-3 Tbsp cold pressed garlic olive oil
- 2 baking sheets
- 1 soup pan
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel and slice all veggies and set aside. Brush chicken on both sides with olive oil and place on a baking sheet – Sprinkle 2 tsp of Italian seasoning / spices. Toss the sweet potatoes in olive oil, spread out over another baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Bake both sheets in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
While chicken and sweet potatoes are baking, heat the broth, onions, carrots and optional veggies or herbs in a soup pan over medium high heat until it’s about to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer veggies in broth for 15 minutes or so.
When the chicken and sweet potatoes are done (the sweet potatoes can be al denté, as they will continue to soften in the soup), slice them into bite sized pieces, and add to the soup. Season the soup to taste with Italian seasoning. Continue to cook soup for another 5 to 10 min.
Place a large handful (about 1 to 1.5 cups) of spinach or kale into each bowl (I use kale in this chicken soup recipe), then ladle the soup over the greens until the broth covers them. Wait five min for the greens to wilt and the soup to cool enough to eat, then finish with a drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil. I tried a mix of garlic, spicy jalapeño, and basil flavored olive oils, which lent it a little Southeast Asian flavor.
Serves 2-3. Enjoy (and feel better)!
Why this Simple Chicken Soup Recipe is Healthy
Organic Chicken – It’s a wonderful source of lean protein – one which contains all essential amino acids. Chicken is also is full of vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Coupled with the bone broth benefits mentioned above, it really brings a lot to the table nutrition-wise. Just be sure to go with organic chicken to avoid antibiotics, GMOs (in animal feed), and even (gulp!) arsenic –it’s definitely a higher vibrational choice!
Onion – I can’t praise onions enough – not only do they add savory flavor to any meal, but they’re full of potent antioxidants like quercetin that help your body fight inflammation. I’m such a fan, I’ve been known to drink onions (like in this video)!
Carrots – Full of beta-carotene and vitamin C, carrots are another great source of antioxidants, not to mention a host of other essential vitamins and minerals, fiber too. This chicken soup recipe features organic multicolor baby carrots – purple, yellow, white and orange; though you get a wider spectrum of antioxidant nutrients from carrots of various colors, regular orange carrots are perfectly fine as far as health benefits go.
Sweet potato – Another terrific source of beta-carotene, sweet potatoes also contain a lot of antioxidant vitamin C, as well as various minerals, B-vitamins and fiber. As with other beta-carotene rich foods like carrots, it’s best to consume sweet potatoes with a healthy fat like olive oil for so your body can better absorb the beta-carotene – hence, I drizzle olive oil on my bowl of soup as a finishing touch.
Spinach and Kale – Dark, leafy greens are packed with natural plant compounds called phytochemicals, many of which are antioxidants that help protect us against the ravages of aging. They’re also a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber your body needs, especially Vitamins K and A (from beta-carotene). You really can’t go wrong with dark leafy greens, so I include them in my soups and dishes whenever possible – kale, in particular, as it’s a cruciferous vegetable with sulforaphane, a powerful anti-cancer compound. Choose organic leafy greens when you can, to avoid vibration-lowering pesticides.
Olive oil – Not only will it help you absorb all the health-boosting nutrients like beta-carotene in this soup, olive oil also offers powerful compounds of its own – heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidant phenols. I also think it adds phenomenal flavor and texture to soup.
Garlic –Garlic is a powerful immune system booster – If you have the time and inclination to peel and chop fresh garlic, your body will thank you. And if you don’t – adding cold-pressed garlic flavored olive oil will imbue your soup with savory and robust garlic flavor.
Never underestimate the power of whole, pure, nutrient-dense foods to prime your immune system, like the ingredients in this soup. This chicken soup is also healthy because of what’s not in it – no artificial flavors, preservatives, other additives, chemical pesticides or GMOs (if you choose organic chicken)…
From my heart to yours,
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© Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.