Chicken Soup from the Soule

All this cold weather we’ve been having, some nice chicken soup is just what we need to warm us up! Jacqueline Soule here this week with an old Soule family recipe for chicken soup..

Old Soule Family Recipe

My parents grew up during the Great Depression back in the 1930’s, followed by WWII and ration books for food. My grandmothers on both sides did the best they could to feed their families, often getting quite creative about meals.

As a child, I would watch the meal preparation process with fascination (and no doubt a million questions!) Both grandmothers (in Vermont and in Tucson) promptly put me to work helping with any tasks my little fingers could handle. I have fond memories of shelling peas or peeling meat off chicken bones and listening to songs, stories, and food health tips.


Both grandmothers made a festive roasted chicken dinner for family visits, and both turned the left-overs into chicken soup. Once I was out on my own, I modified the soup for my taste buds. (Like NO cooked celery or carrots – YUCK!)

“Use It Up”

The Vermont motto is, “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without.” By golly – when it came to the chicken leftovers, Grandma Soule would use it all up!

The entire chicken carcass including skin, the fatty tail, and the previously uncooked neck would go right into the soup pot to simmer. What also went in were those dinner leftovers that were not enough to save, like a scoop of mashed potatoes, the leftover broccoli (chopped), and dinner salad even (cooked lettuce is kinda tasty). An onion or two were added, also carrots and chopped celery, plus some spices – and the whole left to simmer while dishes were washed, the kitchen tidied, and the family called back to the table for dessert. After dessert it was time to get the meat off the bones, and jar up the soup into a nice 2 quart mason jar that would go home with us. Dad carried that jar like it was gold – and in a way it was. It was a meal made for us with love. (And I got to help!)

Onions, fresh herbs, what you have on hand make this soup a tasty treat!

Soule Chicken Soup in Covid Times

I don’t much cook a whole chicken, and we aren’t having family over for meals, but sometimes I stop at the supermarket and grab one of those rotisserie chickens. After a meal or two there is still ample chicken on the carcass for chicken soup the Soule way. Whatever you do, don’t use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Both the bones and skin contribute flavor to the finished soup.

Supermarket chicken is a fast meal and make a wonderful soup.

Chicken Soup

1 leftover chicken
2 large white or yellow onions, chopped
1 quart liquid (water or even store bought broth)
2 cups chopped vegetables 
herbs: handful of fresh herbs, generally chopped fine 
salt and pepper to taste

Choice of vegetables: yellow squash or zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, a tomato or two. If you like them, carrots and/or celery. Tomato or two, maybe some potatoes, some green pepper.

Choice of herbs: What’s fresh in the garden? Handful of parsley and/or cilantro chopped fine, bunch of garlic chives, maybe some fennel or lovage. Tarragon and fenugreek are nice with chicken.

Herbs to leave whole and remove before serving: few sage leaves, sprig of rosemary, a serrano or other chili pepper.  I also like some herba de venado (Porophyllum gracile). [[Another post lost to the hackers – I’ll try to repost.]]


Add whatever herbs you have and enjoy into your chicken soup.

Prepare the Soup

In a large pot, over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering.
Add the onions and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Next the vegetables and cook just to coat with oil, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds.
Add liquid and chicken leftovers carcass and bits, and bring to a simmer.
Simmer at least 30 minutes.
Transfer the chicken carcass onto a large plate to cool.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite-size pieces, discarding the skin and bones.
Add the chicken back into the soup and heat to your desired eating temperature.


Serving Soule Soup with South of the Border Soup Trick

Serving trick I learned in Mexico – serve this soup with a wedge of lemon or lime. Squeezed fresh into the soup – the citrus adds fresh tang to the soup that you don’t get if you cook lemon juice in the soup at the start.

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honey-savor-southwestMore fun with Monica in: Using Honey in New & Savory Ways (Tierra del Sol Institute Press). Only $7 online – or buy from Monica or Jacqueline in person. This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies at no additional cost to you.

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