Chicken Soup aka Jewish Penicillin (not vegetarian)


1 to 1.5 lbs chicken meat with or without bones, preferably without skin * note
3 qts water to cover chicken in pot (at least a 4 quart pot)
4-6 cloves garlic (or 2 cloves elephant garlic)
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 parsnip, sliced
4 slices fresh or dried ginger root, sliced thin (not to be eaten)
2 whole bay leaves (not to be eaten)
1.5 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste, if salt intake is not a problem)
.5 to 1 cup parsley or lovage, preferably fresh leaves (less than half a bunch)
pinch fresh ground black pepper (or several pinches)
sprinkle turmeric - powdered root, or a small slice of the fresh root

Optional herbs, to taste, any of the following, dried or fresh:  tarragon, thyme, marjoram, curry.

Optional vegetables for variety: 
leeks, shallots, green onions, scallions
turnip or rutabaga
horseradish root (use sparingly)
carrot or beet, root or greens (use greens sparingly)


Peel ginger root and slice 3-6 large thin slices of fresh ginger.
Start heating the water in a pot and throw in
  • bay leaves
  • ginger slices

Chop parsnip (rounds), celery.
Peel garlic cloves, and slice.
Bring water to a rolling boil, then lower the heat to medium and add
  • parsnip
  • celery
  • garlic

Allow to boil, uncovered for 15 minutes (or more)
Rinse the chicken and cut or tear it into 4 or 5 large pieces
Reduce heat so that the water is simmering.
Add some room temperature water so the water is just below simmering
Throw in chicken, including bones if you have them, but not skin
Do not over-cook the chicken or it will be tough.
When chicken turns white and is cooked through the middle,
remove all chicken pieces (with a utensil) and put onto a plate to cool.
Continue to simmer vegetables lightly.
Allow chicken to cool enough to handle.
Tear chicken into small slivers
Add a little more room temperature water into pot to get it just below a simmer
Throw bite-sized chicken bits back into pot.
Add parsley (or lovage), turmeric, pepper, optional herbs
Reheat to a boil briefly before serving.
Allow each person to add his/her own salt to taste

Serving Information:

Remove bay leaves and ginger before serving.
Makes eight servings.
Soup will keep for up to 10 days refridgered and may be stretched by adding water.


Note 1  Using the chicken skin will give the soup a higher fat content and a higher content of artificial hormones and pesticide residues.  Chicken soup will be tastier if made with bones.

Note 2  I adapted this recipe from the one I learned from my Grandma.  My Grandma, who was frugal by necessity, would search her refrigerator for whatever vegetable was looking wilted or any part of a vegetable that wouldn't otherwise be used.  She would put those pieces into the water with the chicken, which was also mostly the parts not otherwise used (bones, neck).  The soup flavor came from the bones with a little chicken meat in the soup.  This recipe is more lavish.

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Food as medicine:
  • chicken:  contains seratonin.  Chicken fat is a good medium for transporting other medicines.
  • water:  replenishes fluids
  • garlic:  antiviral, an immune system enhancer.
  • celery:  an electrolyte balancer.
  • parsnip:  blood-sugar balancer.  Contains many vitamins & minerals (A, B, K, calcium...).   Important for hypoglycemics all the time, and all folks when they are sick.
  • ginger root:  an immune system enhancer.
  • bay leaves:  a mucous membrane soother.
  • salt:  replenishes electrolytes.
  • red pepper:  an immune system enhancer.
  • parsley, lovage, turmeric:  a "blood purifier." Supports liver in cleaning out toxins.  Contains many vitamins & minerals.
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