When it comes to comfort food, few dishes are as universally cherished as a steaming bowl of simple chicken soup.
This classic recipe combines the warmth of homemade goodness with the simplicity of preparation.
Whether you need a heartwarming meal for any occasion, a quick and satisfying lunch, or you’re planning a delightful winter picnic in the great outdoors, this easy chicken soup stands as a steadfast companion.
I’ve got loads of tips for serving soup at a picnic that highlights what a convenient picnic dish it is.
From a day hiking in the wilderness, savoring a leisurely picnic in a nearby park, to hosting a cozy outdoor gathering in your own backyard. A steaming bowl or flask filled with this simple chicken soup is the perfect winter picnic dish.
What Makes This Recipe Great
- Classic Comfort: This recipe encapsulates the timeless comfort of a steaming bowl of chicken soup.
- Simplicity: This recipe’s simplicity allows even beginners to create a hearty, flavorful soup with ease, requiring only basic kitchen staples.
- Year-Round Appeal: This chicken soup is perfect for chilly winter days, cool autumn evenings, and crisp spring picnics.
- Satisfying: Chicken soup is hearty and protein-rich, making it a nourishing picnic lunch.
- Customizable: Easily customize this soup by adding your favorite vegetables, herbs, or spices.
- Portability: Soup is easy to transport and stays hot in insulated containers, ideal for chilly picnics, tailgates, or game days.
Chicken: This recipe uses pre-cooked chicken. You can use store-bought rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken from another meal. You can also poach boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs – (see how to do this below).
Broth: Use a quality, sodium-free cooking stock if using store-bought broth. It will give your soup a deeper flavor without the added salt.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements and notes.
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
- Vegetables: You can add or switch out any of the vegetables in this recipe for ones of your choice.
- Seasoning: You can play with seasonings, spices, and herbs to adjust to your taste.
- Dairy and egg-free: You can use dairy-free yogurt or a dairy-free thickening agent like cornstarch mixed with water as a substitute.
How to Poach Chicken
If you are not using rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked chicken already in your fridge, you can easily boil chicken breast or boneless thighs to use in this soup.
- Prep the Chicken: Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken breasts or thighs. You can leave them whole or cut them into smaller, more manageable pieces.
- Season (optional): Season the chicken with salt and pepper for added flavor if desired.
- Boil or Simmer:
- Place the chicken pieces in a large pot, and add enough water or chicken broth to submerge the chicken pieces fully.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Cook: Let the chicken simmer gently for about 20-25 minutes for chicken breasts or 25-30 minutes for chicken thighs. Cooking times may vary slightly depending on the thickness of the meat. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) or is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear.
- Check Doneness: To ensure the chicken is fully cooked, you can use a meat thermometer to verify the internal temperature. Insert it into the thickest part of the meat. The chicken is done if it reads 165°F (74°C) or higher. Alternatively, cut into the thickest part of the meat to check for doneness.
- Shred or Cube the Chicken: Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the pot and let it cool for a few minutes until it’s safe to handle. Then, shred the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces using two forks or your fingers. You can also roughly cut the chicken into pieces.
How to Make the Soup
Step 1: Prepare the vegetables
- Cut the peeled carrots into half-moons.
- Finely dice the celery sticks and the onion.
- Wash and peel the potato. Leave the potatoes whole; do not cut them.
- Finely chop the celery leaves.
Step 2: Add the olive oil to the pot and place over high heat. Add the black pepper and fry for 1 minute or until the black pepper starts to crackle. Reduce heat to medium.
Add the onion, celery, half of celery leaves, and carrots and sauté for 5-6 minutes or until soft.
Step 3: Add the whole potatoes, lemon wedge and thyme.
Pour the stock into the pot with the vegetables and add another 6 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
Cook until the potatoes are tender.
Step 4: Remove the potatoes and place them in a bowl with some broth from the pot.
Step 5: Purée the potato and broth using an immersion blender. Return the potato mix to the pot along with the cooked chicken pieces.
Turn off the heat.
Step 6: In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, egg yolk, and the juice of half a lemon. Stir well.
Step 7: Gently add a spoonful of the hot soup stock in a thin stream to the egg mixture while mixing to temper the eggs. Repeat this step until the temperature of the egg mixture and the remaining soup are balanced.
Once complete, add the egg mix to the soup pot and combine.
Step 8: Season with salt to taste and serve. Garnish with celery or parsley leaves.
Absolutely! This soup can be made in advance and reheated. In fact, the flavors often improve with time.
This soup will remain fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days when stored in an airtight container.
Yes, you can freeze the soup for up to 3 months. Let it cool completely first. Then, transfer the soup to a freezer-safe container and seal it tightly. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or reheat it slowly on the stovetop.
You can use dairy-free yogurt or a dairy-free thickening agent like cornstarch mixed with a bit of water as a substitute.
You can thicken the soup by adding a cornstarch slurry–whisk together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Add the slurry to the soup and stir until well combined. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until thickened. About 2 minutes.
- Quality Ingredients: Use high-quality chicken and broth for the best flavor. Fresh ingredients can make a noticeable difference in the final result.
- Herb Infusion: When adding fresh herbs like thyme, consider tying them with kitchen twine. This makes it easier if you wish to remove them once they’ve imparted their flavor. A good idea if your fresh thyme is a bit woody.
- Simmer Slowly: Cooking the soup over low heat allows the flavors to meld and develop. The longer, slower simmer can produce a richer, more flavorful broth.
- Consistency Control: If you prefer a smoother soup, you can puree more vegetables in step 5, creating a creamier texture. For a chunkier soup, you could cube some of the potato.
- Egg Yolk Tempering: When adding broth to the egg yolk and yogurt mixture, it’s crucial to temper it by gradually introducing the hot soup stock. This prevents the egg from curdling. Patience is key here.
- Customization: Feel free to personalize this soup with additional vegetables, such as peas or corn, or seasonings, like dried herbs, chili flakes, or a pinch of paprika, to suit your taste preferences.
Related Picnic Ideas
Simple Chicken Soup
- 3 cups diced or shredded chicken meat
- 41/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth - Try to use a quality, salt-free broth if using store-bought.
- 4 small potatoes
- 1 yellow onion
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- ½ bunch fresh celery leaves
- 1 fresh thyme sprig
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 4 tbps olive oil
- ½ lemon
- Salt to taste
- Peel and cut the carrots into half-moons.
- Finely dice the celery sticks and onion.
- Wash and peel the potato. Leave the potatoes whole, do not cut them.
- Finely chop the celery leaves.
- Add the olive oil into the pot and heat over high heat. Add the black pepper and fry for 1 minute or until the black pepper starts to crackle.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion, celery, half of celery leaves, and carrots and Sauté for 5-6 minutes or until soft.
- Add the whole potatoes, lemon wedge and thyme.
- Pour the stock into the pot with the vegetables and add another 6 cups of fresh water.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cook until the potatoes are tender.
- Remove the potatoes with some of the broth.
- Purée using an immersion blender. Return the potato mix to the pot along with the cooked chicken pieces.
- Turn off the stove.
- In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with egg yolk and the juice of half a lemon. Stir well.
- Temper the egg mix by gently pouring a spoonful of the soup stock in a thin stream into the egg mixture mixing while you add. Repeat the step until the temperature of the egg mixture and the remaining soup are balanced.
- After you have done this step, pour the resulting slurry into the soup. Stir well to combine.
- Sprinkle with celery or parsley leaves (your choice) and serve.