{Jewish Penicillin} Homemade Chicken Broth & Basic Chicken Soup

by lydia on January 18, 2011

A pot of broth simmering away on the stove is like therapy and medicine for the soul. Along with that it makes a home feel assuredly comforting and inviting. Enjoying a bowl of soup is always a comfort to my soul along with my palate. A sense of true deep down nourishment always comes over me with every sip of broth. Because bone broth is easy to absorb, tastes good, and contains a rich concentration of nutrients, broth makes a distinctively good natural ‘medicine.’ In folk wisdom, chicken soup is known as ‘Jewish penicillin’.

Many people turn to chicken soup when they are under the weather or coming down with a cold or flu. Our bodies innately speak to us sometimes through the foods we crave, and in this case for good reason. Bone broth contains gelatin a colloidal substance that attracts digestive juices to itself and prevents gastrointestinal bugs from attaching themselves to the gut wall and wreaking havoc. Chicken broth or other broths also contain glutathione a substance that helps to detoxify the liver. It is also the most assimilable way to get much needed minerals when the body is under stress. Bone broth is also helpful in treating digestive disorders such as IBS, colitis and even Chrohn’s disease. Bone broth is most definitely worth it’s weight in gold as it’s a powerful healing food that just about everyone can benefit from. (Learn more about the benefits of bone broth).

During the winter I make chicken stock every week. With the bones from two entire chickens I can make almost 2 gallons of stock. We use every bit of it too. Since this is the time of year we all seem to want soup and many people get sick, I thought I’d post how I make both my homemade chicken broth and a basic chicken soup. If you haven’t made homemade soup with homemade broth and are used to the crap, eh hem, I mean stuff from a can, you are in for a real treat.



{Jewish Penicillin} Homemade Chicken Broth


  • bones, neck, backs, wing tips and 4 chicken feet (from 2 whole pastured chickens)
  • 8 quarts cold filtered water
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 whole heads of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 4-6 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 6-8 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • handful of peppercorns
  • 1 or 2 bunches of parsley
  • astragalus root slices (optional)


  1. Place the chicken pieces and bones in a large stainless steel stockpot with the water, vinegar and all the vegetables (minus the parsley). Let stand 1 hour. (the vinegar will help to draw the minerals out of the bones.)
  2. Bring to a boil, and remove any scum that rises to the top.
  3. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns astragalus root slices.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. I always do a full 24 hours, because the longer you cook it the richer the flavor will be.
  5. 10 minutes prior to finishing the stock add the parsley. Strain the stock and contain it in glass ball jars. If you plan to freeze it, leave 2 inches of head space and allow to cool fully before placing in the freezer.

Basic Chicken Soup


  • 4 quarts of homemade chicken stock (recipe follows)
  • 4 -6 organic carrots, chopped
  • 6-8 stalks of organic celery, chopped
  • 2 large onions, minced
  • 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 whole breasts of chicken, cut off of 2 pastured chickens and cut into bite sized pieces.
  • butter or ghee and/or drippings leftover from a roasted chicken
  • dried oregano
  • sea salt
  • a bunch fresh parsley, minced (optional)


  1. In a large chef's pan on medium high heat, add a spoonful of ghee.
  2. Add chopped onions, carrots and celery and saute for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the garlic and saute another minute or so.
  4. Add about a quart of stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat a bit, place lid on pan and let the veggies simmer about 30 minutes.
  5. At the end of the 30 minutes, check the veggies for doneness, they should be very tender at this point, if not keep simmering until the desired tenderness is acheived.
  6. Add the remaining stock and seasonings and bring to a boil again.
  7. Add in the chicken pieces, simmer for a few minutes until chicken is cooked through.
  8. Add plenty of butter and the parsley if using and cook a few more minutes. Serve.

Want more soup recipes? Winter Soups, a downloadable recipe eBook, is a collection of 52 nourishing soups from your favorite real food bloggers. Click on the banner below to learn more about ‘Winter Soups‘.

Are you new to making homemade broths and stocks? If you want to learn from the best on all the ins and outs of homemade broth making, plus obtain numerous recipes and uses for broth -check out my friend Patty of Loving Our Guts eBook; ‘Broth Elixir of Life‘. Gorgeous photos and step by step instructions, plus information on all the healing benefits of broth and why you should make it a staple part of your healthy kitchens.




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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty January 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Lydia, you are so right about stretching a pastured chicken or two to feed large family on a tight budget. With 8 people in our family and a budget of about $30 per person per week we are still able to buy only pastured/grass fed meats, eggs, poultry and dairy. I have yet to butcher my own birds and roast my chickens whole and then slice them up. Maybe you could teach us how to butcher a chicken sometime?


Julie January 19, 2011 at 7:30 am

I applaud your ability to stretch the dollar and the chicken and do it so healthfully. Keep up the good work. I am learning from you–and I am 58. :)


Kim January 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm

It’s funny you should post this today because I just made chicken stock yesterday and when it was time to go to bed I debated whether to leave it cooking overnight or not. I’m so paranoid that it will start a fire or something – even though my husband tells me it will be fine. So it ended up I went ahead and put it in jars. It had been cooking about 9 hours and was good – but maybe next time I’ll try longer.

I have been following the Nourishing Traditions recipe but I think I will try your idea of adding garlic and peppercorns as well – sounds yummy!


Melanie January 4, 2014 at 9:45 pm

You are SO my kinda Cook:)


Monica January 18, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Homemade bone broth is awesome. Having a chicken posole soup for supper, of course made with the chicken broth I cooked myself!


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