This fall-off-the-bone, nourishing chicken soup recipe is one of my go-to dishes when I’m feeling under the weather or I want something comforting and warm. Tender chicken, nutritious veggies and hearty broth are magical together. This soup is paleo, gluten-free, and Whole30 friendly.
Feeling under the weather?
Maybe a little cold?
Or just need something simple and light?
You can’t go past a good, homemade chicken soup. It’s one of the most comforting dishes with a good balance of nutrients. It’s easy to make, although it does need some time.
Everyone has their own chicken soup recipe, passed on to them by their mothers or learnt from their favourite celebrity chefs. This is my go-to version.
The meat is the star of the dish: it’s super soft, falling off the bone when you lift the chicken from the broth and infused with yummy flavours. Of course, you MUST get a good quality chicken to make a tasty soup so make sure to buy the free-range whole bird and organic if possible.
If you can’t get a whole chicken, you can use a selection of chicken pieces but make sure they are on the bone with some fat on. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a thin soup that has no depth to it.
If you’re avoiding white potatoes, feel free to add other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower or some Asian greens. I always mix it up depending on the season.
Fall Off The Bone Chicken Soup Recipe
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 55 mins
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: British
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 1 whole free-range chicken
- 2 litres cold water
- 3–4 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 celery sticks, washed
- 2 carrots, washed and peeled
- 2 spring onion bulbs (go for the green onions with more developed white bulbs) or 1 brown onion, cut into quarters
- a few coriander stems and some leaves (aka cilantro)
- 2 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Fresh coriander/cilantro and green onion for garnish
- Lemon or lime juice for drizzle if you like
- Additional vegetables and herbs you could add: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, Asian greens, ginger, lemongrass, lime and chilli, other root vegetables
- Firstly, cut your chicken into 4 pieces. Use the kitchen scissors to cut through one side of the spine and along the breast bone on the other side. Cut off the thighs from each half and you will have quarters. Place the chicken in a large pot and cover with two litres of cold water. Place on the stove and turn the heat to high.
- While the water is coming to boil you can prepare the rest of ingredients. What I do next is add the bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns to the chicken stock. I then cut one of the celery sticks and one of the carrots into 3-4 pieces and add to the stock along with the white onion. I tear coriander leaves off the stems and save those for later; I add the stems as well as a few fresh leaves to the stock. The rest of the vegetables will be added in the second part of cooking. That’s it!
- Bring it to boil, then bring the heat down to a low simmer and cover with a lid. Every now and then you can skim off the foam but we are going to strain the liquid so don’t worry too much about it. Cook for 1 hour 30 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t boil or cook on high heat, low and steady is a secret to super soft chicken.
- While the stock is cooking, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Peel and cube the potato, slice the second half of celery and carrots and wash the coriander leaves.
- By this stage, the smell of the chicken soup would have filled your house and you’re now ready for phase number two. Remove the chicken pieces to a bowl or a chopping board and let them cool down so we can work with the meat. Strain the rest of the liquid into another pot. You can use some of the cooked veggies but I like to discard those and use freshly chopped ones for some crunch.
You can reserve some to the stock for later. Cool it down and freeze in ice-cube trays. Don’t be afraid of the fat in the stock, it’s the best part!
- Add the salt, potato, celery and carrot to the strained stock. Bring to boil, then turn down to low simmering and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the potato is soft to bite. While cooking, remove the chicken skin and separate the meat. Tear the meat into thin strips and return to the soup at the end.
- Turn the heat off, throw in a handful of coriander leaves and some diced green onion and cover with a lid to set for a few minutes before serving. Drizzle with a little lemon or lime juice if you like, and add some chilli for an extra kick.
- PS. You don’t have to add all of the cooked chicken meat back to the soup, I usually reserve some of it for lunch the next day. The bones and carcass can be cooked again into a broth in a slow cooker.
Looking for more hearty, nourishing soup recipes? Check out my collection of healthy soups here.
Have leftover chicken meat? Shred it in a salad with your favourite dressing. Below is my leftover chicken salad with ginger, sesame, honey and lime dressing and mixed greens.
I normally just jam a whole chicken in the pot, but i’d never actually thought about cutting it into pieces. I”m normally going “WHY ARE YOU FLOATING” then sticking pot lids on top of the chicken to stop it floating.
I’m not super smart 😀
Haha, you made me laugh!
I made this last night for dinner. It’s wonderful!! Thanks for giving such a great recipe!
I made this last night and it was delicious! We all had it for dinner tonight, and I think it was even better after sitting in the refrigerator for a day.
I made the chicken soup last week and it was the best I have ever tasted and am now making it again tonight.
I added chicken stock too.
Thank you for the recipe. I had it for dinner last night. It was so delicious!
When you’re making the stock do you leave the lid on or off? I know you put the lid on when you transfer the stock to the second stage but there’s no mention of lid off or on for the stock. Might seem like a small thing but the amount of water that is lost in steam over an hour and a half is significant if it’s off.
Disregard above, sorry.
Interestingly, fresh coriander is called cilantro in the US. Always learning! It’s cooking now …
This was truly delicious!!! Such a clean taste and full of flavor. I used white sweet potatoes instead to try something different. But very tasty. Thanks!
Thanks for the idea i just made it the whole house smell lovely and fiancé is loving it.. I added 1/4 cup of rice to it yummy tummy 🙂
Thanks for this. Just made it minus the potato and cilantro, I’m struggling with major IBS/worrying about more serious condition right now and this makes me feel like the world is a better place. I have shared it with many people already!
We love this soup and you can use whichever vegetables you like. I have been making this soup a lot recently and I can highly recommend to cook it for 2-3 hours before you pull the chicken out and pull the meat off. You will get even more glycine out of the bones and connective tissues, making this soup even more healing.
does anyone have suggestions what herbs to use to replace cilantro?
in otherwords coriandar…
Hi Mandy, parsley will work well as well. I find coriander goes well in chicken soup but parsley is also great. If you want something a little more pungent you can try some thyme or basil.
Hi, I tried this recipe last night and I loved it! I just replaced the cilantro with thyme and parsley. I gave some to my elderly, sick neighbours and they really enjoyed it. I will definitely be using this one again.
You’re a very nice neighbour 🙂 It’s my favourite soup when I’m under the weather too.
I had my tonsils out last week, and this was my first proper dinner- so delicious! And super easy too.
Hi! I thought potatoes are not on the paleo diet. Is that correct??
Well, they actually are. The old view was they should be out but the latest approach is to allow some white potatoes as long as they are a) peeled (most of the aninutrients are in the skin), b)your body expands enough energy to consume more starchy vegetables, and c) you’re not avoiding nightshades due to some autoimmune condition.
Could you do this in a slow cooker?
Yes, I would say you can although I haven’t tried yet. I only just got a slow cooker so I will definitely try to make it. You might just have to do the last part (taking the meat off the bone and adding some veggies to the soup) once the soup is cooked, so when you come home from work or whenever you’re free and at home.
Wow! This is the first time I have made chicken soup from scratch and it will be the only recipe I use from now on. I don’t usually write comments on recipes that I try but this was amazing! I used a Buddhist style chicken, meaning it came with the head and feet. It added an amazing amount of collagen to the broth and I also added lemongrass and ginger to deepen the flavor. Hands down the best chicken soup I have ever had. Thank you for the recipe!
Thank you David. I appreciate your time to leave such a lovely comment. The power of the chicken soup can not be underestimated. 🙂
Does this freeze well? I’d like to make it for a friend to have after chemo when she’s feeling so ill.
I think it will freeze ok. I would even recommend to cook the chicken for a couple of hours longer to get a few more nutrients from the bones. Bone broth is so healing and nourishing, your friend will love it.
I never comment on these things but this soup was sensational, Being pregnant with the flu and not being able to take any medication to ease the discomfort I needed something healing and comforting (even in this Aussie summer heat!). I added chilli flakes and a lot of extra veggies plus left the chicken in for 2 and a half hours, it literally melted off the bone! I’ll be having this for lunch and dinner until this sickness goes away! Thank you so much!
Glad you like it 🙂
I was wondering if you could do this in a pressure cooker? At least the first part before the extra vegetables are added?
I have made similar to this in a pressure cooker, but I find cooking this way gives much better results in terms of flavour and texture.
This was the best chicken soup for my sick family with cold and flu. It was awesome, I don’t normally comment thanks for sharing.
Cooking this chicken soup for my sick son & he seems much better after had two bowl of it. He stop running to toilet cough out his phlem as he is an asthmatic.
Thanks for a great recipe!
Chicken soup is awesome, even if you’re not sick.
I have made this lovely soup so good maDE a big pot and frozen some also had some for breakfast with a slice of toast yummy
Made this tonight. It was alright. Didnt blow me away flavour wise sadly. I even added more garlic, bay leaves and coriander. Ichucked leeks in too. I even had to add a can of tomatoes at the end because it was lacking a bit of flavour. Sorry!!
Hannah I’m surprised as I’ve made this many times and our family love it! Did you use organic veggies and chicken? That might help with the flavour as it’s just all about those simple foods 🙂 tonight I’m adding lemongrass too
This is the BEST soup. Can’t believe you can get it so wrong
Irena, I’ve made this so many times I’ve lost count. I LOVE it!!!!
Tonight I just bought a tonne of wings and legs and I’m going to just dump everything into the slow cooker for a few hours. Can’t wait to try it!
Made a massive ‘prep’ meal batch of this, but I sweat/caramelised the celery and onions and heaps of garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients. I opted out of potato, using Brussel sprouts and broccoli instead, turned out great! Thanks for the inspiration ?
Question: Is this a whole uncooked free range chicken or a cooked free range chicken? Something tells me boiled chicken meat wouldn’t be that tasty, but I must ask.
You cook with the raw free-range chicken and it’s really tasty in this soup.
I’ve followed this recipe countless times now. Makes a lovey broth based chicken soup. It’s my go to recipe . Love it
Best chicken soup ever! My absolute go to!
Thanks Jules! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Irena 🙂
Hi this is a regular meal for us and everyone loves it. Is there a way to make this using the instant pot? I see your other instant pot chicken soup recipe but this is so easy because I don’t need to have broth already kn hand. If not I’m happy to keep making this in the stove! Loke other fans i normally do not comment either but this is really unbelievable! Thank you!
Hey Sue, with this soup, I would make the first part in the Instant Pot (cook the broth while cooking that chicken to super tender). I would say 30 minutes on HIGH with a 15-minute natural release. Then return the broth to the Instant Pot and select Saute to cook the soup with the potatoes, veggies, herbs and added chicken etc. You can put lock the lid again and cook it on HIGH pressure for 3 minutes (should be enough for diced potatoes) with quick release. Sorry, I wasn’t sure if you meant that you have the broth already on hand and if that meant you had pre-cooked chicken as well?
Love this chicken soup. So healthy & so flavoursome! A recipe I always come back to!
Thanks, Brooke 🙂
If I freeze this for postpartum, should I wait until I re-heat in a pot to add potatoes?
Hey Rochelle, you could cook this soup with potatoes in it and freeze it all together. Alternatively, you can reheat and add potatoes and cook them at a later stage. It depends on whether you’re adding raw or cooked potatoes.