During autumn, something happens to me. For some unknown reason I start making chicken stock. Gallons of it. Then I start making soups. The first soup every year is my homemade chicken vegetable soup recipe. Made with fresh veggies, homemade chicken stock and lots of love… soul satisfying doesn’t even come close to explaining how good this recipe is. Warm up with me with this delicious chicken soup recipe.
This chicken vegetable soup recipe is gluten free, paleo and completely calming.
What you’ll find in most chicken and vegetable soup recipes are carrots, celery, onions and potatoes. Maybe some thyme or other herbs are thrown in there for some character. Sure, it’s traditional but it is a little boring too… right? You’ll find carrots, celery and onions in my recipe, but there is so much more.
Instead of potatoes, we are going to use turnips. Yes, turnips. Most students who came to my cooking school had never used a turnip before, so don’t feel alone if you haven’t either. Turnips are a root vegetable that have a white and purple skin. They really are beautiful and impart such nice, delicate flavor to the soup. Buy the smaller turnips at the grocery store. They are less woody and taste better.
We’re going to add in zucchini too. With it’s mild, almost sweet flavor it adds dimension to the soup. Plus it softens as it cooks, adding a really nice texture to the soup.
One of my favorite additions to this chicken vegetable soup are leeks. The venerable leek. As a cousin to the onion, it imparts a softer onion flavor that is more round on the tongue than onion. When paired with shallot, it takes on a mild onion & garlic flavor. Just fantastic. You’re going to find a ton of depth in this soup.
So let’s toss tradition out the window and start making some really memorable soup. If this sounds good to you, then you’ve found the right recipe for chicken and vegetable soup.
Paleo Chicken Soup
As many of my readers know, I’m a fan of the paleo lifestyle. Although I don’t adhere to it 100%, it does impact my thoughts on just about everything that I cook. From time to time you’ll find me eating some potatoes or rice. My family is not paleo and sometimes rules were meant to be broken.
All the being said, this soup recipe is completely paleo. Here’s the scoop:
- The chicken stock I used was made from the bones of 4 rotisserie chickens we ate. If you haven’t made rotisserie chicken stock yet… are you in for a pleasant surprise. Give it a shot!
- We’re using organic chicken (mine is organic local chicken), carrots, onions, celery, shallot, zucchini and leeks as the primary vegetables in this paleo chicken soup. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
- Instead of potatoes we’re going to use turnips. This root vegetable is completely acceptable on the paleo diet, unlike the lowly potato. The turnip provides the same texture of the potato and incredible flavor but none of the downsides of the old spud.
Want even more veggies in this paleo chicken soup? Try some parsnips, a handful of breakfast radish (they are longer than the American radish and have less of a spicy kick) or a couple rutabaga. Yum.
Chicken Soup Seasoning
We need to talk about what to put into chicken soup and what to leave out. My philosophy when it comes to seasoning is simple: keep it simple when appropriate or swing for the fences when the time is right. Very few times do I find myself in limbo between these two extremes. Take my fantastically delicious grilled chicken wings recipe… in that one we are going to swing for the fences with tons of spice. In chicken soup, we need a different approach to the seasoning.
I’m a fan of keeping the seasoning super simple with chicken soup. Salt and pepper all the way. The key to seasoning this dish is to season the layers as they are cooking, rather than waiting until the very end to adjust the seasoning. If you season the carrots, turnips and zucchini before they are added to the chicken stock then you will need to do less adjusting later in the process. If you want to add pepper into those steps, go ahead!
The only other ingredient that I use to enhance the flavor of chicken soup is balsamic vinegar. Balsamic is a less intrusive acid than lemon or red wine vinegar for example. It has sweetness that plays well with the salt we are going to add into the soup. We want an acid in the soup to create interest for our palette… think of it as slightly emphasizing a high note in a perfect harmony. What was great turns into something incredible. Yes, that is what we are going to do with this chicken soup recipe.
One note of caution… be careful how much seasoning you are adding into the soup. Make sure to continually taste, adjust, stir and taste again. It is very hard to take too much salt out of a soup and even harder to correct too much acid without changing to a creamy style soup to tame the acid. So be careful when adding the seasonings.
QUICK COOKING TIP: This soup recipe is enough for a whole family.Keep in mind that you will need a large enough soup pot to handle this quantity of soup. I make a larger amount than my family could ever eat every time so we extra available to freeze. This soup will hold in the freezer for quite some time and has no problem quickly defrosting on the stove.
If you need to defrost the chicken vegetable soup quickly, simply add the frozen soup block to a pot with a tight fitting cover. Add in about 1/2 cup of water (or stock if you have it available) and heat over medium-high heat until hot enough to consume. Sometimes I use tongs to grab the melting soup and flip it over in the pan. Seems to help it defrost more quickly.
Ok. We’ve gone through a lot of stuff about chicken soup. Now let’s get to making it.
Homemade Chicken Vegetable Soup
- 8 cups Chicken Stock homemade or low sodium
- 5 Regular Carrots diced
- 1/2 Celery Head trimmed and sliced
- 2 Spanish Onions peeled and diced
- 4 Small Turnips or 2 large. Washed & diced
- 1 Medium Zucchini diced
- 2 Medium Leeks trimmed and sliced
- 1 Shallot sliced
- 3 Chicken Breasts trimmed and diced
- 1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Kosher Salt to taste- might need more!
- 1 tsp Cracked Pepper to taste- might need more!
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil for sauteing
- Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add in the chicken stock.
- Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add in a tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil shimmers in the pan, add the carrots and turnips with a good pinch of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, then add in the zucchini. Cook until lightly browned and then add to the chicken stock.
- Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Add in the remaining veggies and a good pinch or two of salt. Stir and cook for 7-8 minutes until lightly browned. Add to the chicken stock.
- Pour the remaining tablespoon of oil into the skillet. When the oil shimmers again, add in the diced chicken. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned and then add to the chicken stock.
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil and then quickly reduce the heat so the stock simmers. Cook for about 30 minutes or until all the veggies are tender. Add in HALF of the balsamic vinegar and taste. If the soup needs more acid, add in the remaining balsamic. Make sure that you adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot and enjoy!
Final thoughts on the homemade chicken vegetable soup recipe:
There are a lot of ways to make this soup even more hearty and filling. The easiest way is to add in some cooked white or brown rice. Although this doesn’t conform with the paleo lifestyle, it sure is good. If you want to keep it completely paleo, go ahead and pour it over some cauliflower rice. It’s delicious.
Want to add in something completely unexpected? Try adding in some zoodles (zucchini noodles made in a spiralizer). You can find a super easy zoodles recipe that I posted up forever ago. I even put zoodles into a different homemade chicken soup recipe that was absolutely delicious… and completely paleo too!
What vegetables do you use in your chicken soups that aren’t traditional? I’d love to know! I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Happy eating!