Simple Soup for Sick Days

White bowl with soup on table
Photo: Adrienne Inger, RDN

My mother has always called chicken soup “nature’s penicillin.” If you’re like most Americans, you’ve likely experienced the warmth-spreading, sinus-clearing, soul-soothing effects of a steamy bowl yourself and can relate 100 percent.

But here’s the kicker: The moment you could most use a bowl of soup usually coincides with the moment you have the least energy and motivation to make it.

When you find yourself in this situation, you may feel reduced to less savory options, such as ordering soup from a local deli or diner — if they’re open — or settling for the canned stuff that kind of hits the spot but definitely doesn’t taste homemade.

Although prepared items can be great in a pinch, soups that aren’t homemade tend to be short on vegetables, high in sodium and often contain a surplus of refined carbohydrates — making them less healthful, less restorative and sometimes less tasty than what you would have wanted. I developed this recipe to show you there’s a better way. This is easy to prepare and it’s a one-pot meal — yay for minimal clean up! — that results in leftovers you can rely on until you’re back to feeling like yourself. When you take this into consideration alongside its nutrition content, the decision to get cooking becomes clear as broth.

Purchase ingredients in advance and get to cooking the minute you feel a cold coming on. Whether you’re hit like a ton of bricks with influenza, or develop no more than a sniffle, you will never regret having homemade soup at the ready for a quick heat and eat.

By the way, you don’t need to be sick to enjoy this recipe! Take it from me, someone who craves a bowl of soup at least once a week regardless of the season — fresh soup is the best soup. This recipe particularly is great because it supplies ample veggies, vitamins and minerals, fluid, fiber and protein, and is low in salt.  My guy was so happy with this soup that I’ve added it to our regular dinner rotation!


White Bean & Greens Chicken Soup Recipe

 Serves 6 to 8 – 1 ⅓ cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white parts only
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 cup ¼-inch thick carrot slices
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1½ pounds cooked shredded chicken (skinless and boneless)
  • 1 2-inch fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 19-ounce can rinsed and drained cannellini beans
  • ½ cup ¼-inch-thick button mushroom slices
  • 2 cups roughly chopped spinach and kale mixture
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes or until tender but not browned.
  2. Add broth, water, lemon juice, chicken and rosemary; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, skimming occasionally.
  3. Add beans and mushrooms; simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and kale and cook 2 to 3 minutes more or until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove rosemary sprig. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle each with ½ teaspoon parsley.
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Adrienne Inger
Adrienne Inger is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist passionate about setting the record straight with sound and simple nutrition advice. She sees many clients via "virtual appointment" and has a growing private practice in the DC-metro area where she lives. Connect with her on her blog Eat My Facts and on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.