Best Chicken Soup for the American Soul

In a world filled with complex recipes and exotic ingredients, sometimes it’s the simplest of dishes that touch the deepest corners of our souls. When it comes to comfort food, nothing quite matches the humble yet extraordinarily flavorful Chicken Soup for the American Soul.

At first glance, you might wonder, “What’s so special about this soup?” It’s a straightforward concoction, composed of just five essential components: a chicken, an onion, a couple of carrots, a few stalks of celery, and the most basic element of all – water.

Some salt and pepper for seasoning, and occasionally a hint of curry powder, and that’s the entirety of this heartwarming dish.

This seemingly unassuming recipe is a symphony of flavors, a testament to the magic that can be conjured from simplicity. The chicken is cooked until tender, and then the real secret begins—the bones are simmered to extract every last drop of flavor and body, elevating this soup to an entirely different level of deliciousness. It’s more than sustenance; it’s a nostalgic journey, a taste of home, a chicken soup for the American soul.

What’s so special about the chicken soup, you asked? Well, it’s nothing special at all. That’s it. It’s made with just five ingredients: a chicken, an onion, a couple of carrots, and a couple more stalks of celery.

And the fifth ingredient? Water. Yes, just plain water. And then some salt and pepper to taste. That’s really it. I sometimes use a teaspoon of curry powder if I have some on hand. Just a tiny amount, not to make it taste like a curry, but just enough to register a little complexity in the broth. I cook everything just until the chicken is done, then remove the meat and cook only the bones for a little while longer, extracting every bit of flavor and body out of the bones, before putting the meat back in and serving.

This simple and intensely flavorful soup was the perfect food for the climate that night – comforting, renewing, just what we needed, a chicken soup for the American soul.

Chicken Soup for the American Soul

Chicken Soup for the American Soul


  • 1 4-5lbs chicken, whole
  • 1 large or two small onions, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2tbsp of olive oil or butter
  • 1tsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water


Heat oil or butter in a pot large enough to hold the entire chicken. Add the onions and let cook until translucent and just starting to turn slightly brown and caramelized. Add the celery and carrots and continue to cook until the chopped celery turns translucent and the carrot pieces soften a bit. 

Add about a teaspoon of curry powder and cook for another minute, stirring to prevent burning at the bottom of the pot. Quickly rinse the whole chicken and place it breast-side up into the pot. Fill the pot with enough water to submerge the whole chicken. Close the lid and bring it to a full boil. Then, remove the lid, turn the heat down to simmer, skim the foam off the top, and put the lid back on. Don’t close the lid completely, leave it slightly askew to vent. Continue to skim the foam off the top. Let cook for one hour.

Chicken Soup for the American Soul
Chicken Soup for the American Soul

At the end of the hour, the chicken should be just cooked. Remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a large plate. I use a large Pyrex baking dish for this. Separate the chicken meat from the carcass, using a knife, fork, a pair of tongs, or whatever pleases you. Then, with a pair of kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, cut up the carcass into small chunks of bones.

Place the bones into a large strainer (the insert of a pasta pot works well too). If you don’t have a strainer or a pasta pot, you can wrap the bone pieces in muslin, tie it up, and drop the package into the pot. The idea is to have an easy way to remove the bones from the soup once you’ve extracted all the flavors out of them.

Drop the bones back into the soup and continue to simmer for another half an hour. Meanwhile, cut the chicken meat into bite-size chunks. You can remove the flabby but delicious bits of cooked skin if you’d like. I love them so I leave mine in there. Sprinkle a little salt (or white soy sauce) over the meat to add just a bit more flavor. Cover the bowl with plastic or a piece of foil and set it aside. 

Chicken Soup for the American Soul
Chicken Soup for the American Soul

After the bones have been in the pot for half an hour, remove and discard them. They’re no good anymore now that all the flavors have been squeezed out of them. Put the chicken meat back into the pot and bring it back to a simmer. You can skim off the gloriously yellow fat in the pot if you’re afraid of that kind of thing. I never bother, fat is flavor people! Check to seasoning, and add more salt if needed, a few turns of the peppermill won’t hurt either. Turn the heat off and serve.

In a world where culinary trends come and go, there’s something timeless about a steaming bowl of Chicken Soup for the American Soul. It’s a testament to the beauty of uncomplicated, honest food. The ingredients may be minimal, but the depth of flavor they produce is immense. With just a touch of curry powder, it achieves a complexity that resonates with our taste buds and our memories.

The process is as meditative as it is practical—the slow simmering, the patient extraction of flavor from every bone. It’s a reminder that good things take time, and the reward is always worth the effort. As you enjoy each spoonful of this soul-warming elixir, you can’t help but feel a sense of comfort and nostalgia, as though you’ve tapped into a piece of the American culinary heritage.

So, the next time you seek solace, flavor, or a taste of tradition, turn to this straightforward yet extraordinary recipe. It’s more than just chicken soup; it’s a warm embrace for your taste buds and your soul, a cherished link to the heart of American home cooking.


Hearty Homestyle Eats: A Must-Try American Classic!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
October 21, 2023

I stumbled upon this fantastic Chicken Soup for the American Soul recipe, and it’s been an absolute game-changer in my kitchen. The straightforward list of ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions make this soup an ideal choice for both beginners and seasoned home cooks. The resulting flavor is out of this world – comforting, rich, and deeply satisfying. It’s not just a soup; it’s a nostalgic journey back to the heart of American cuisine. This recipe has quickly become a beloved staple in my cooking repertoire, and I can’t recommend it enough!

Lady Lisa

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