Not Your Grandma’s Chicken Soup

classic chicken soup in a bowl with spoon

It’s definitely not your grandma’s chicken soup ~ for one thing, this vibrant soup won’t be simmering on the stove all day, it’s ready in 30 minutes. And I’m pretty sure grandma wasn’t using the full arsenal of comforting ingredients that I’ve got in my bowl!

*This post is in partnership with Swanson® ~ thank you for supporting me and the brands I work with, I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the best.

chicken soup with spoon

Chicken soup is magic, we all know that, but there’s science behind that magic. Chicken soup is comforting, can keep you hydrated while you’re under the weather, and helps with upper respiratory cold and flu symptoms. Grandma was smart, and her soup is pretty good, but my version is even smarter and includes herbs, vegetables, and other ingredients many cultures believe are helpful remedies when you’re down for the count.

  • hot chicken broth ~ hydrating, helps maintain your electrolyte balance, and acts as a mucus clearing decongestant
  • garlic and leeks ~ they have antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. SUBSTITUTE: onions or green onions
  • ginger ~ fights infections, anti-inflammatory.
  • rainbow carrots ~ Vitamin A to help produce antibodies. The tops are edible, too! SUBSTITUTE: regular carrots or sweet potatoes
  • olive oil ~ to help with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (D, A, K and E)
  • turmeric ~ this superfood has super anti-inflammatory powers. SUBSTITUTE: saffron or cumin
  • cayenne ~ the anti-inflammatory capsaicin can help ease a sore throat and clear clogged passages. SUBSTITUTE: fresh jalapeno or Serrano peppers.
  • thyme ~ antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and astringent. SUBSTITUTE: sage
  • baby spinach ~ a good source of Vitamin A & C in every cup of raw spinach. SUBSTITUTE: watercress, kale, parsley or broccoli.

ingredients for chicken soup

But all that healthy stuff means nothing if you don’t have the time or energy to make this soup. This recipe is ready in 30 minutes ~ so important when you’re feeling under the weather. To make the magic happen in record time, I use Swanson Chicken Broth and a rotisserie chicken. I chose Swanson Organic Free-Range Chicken Stock because it’s made by cooking the meat and bones down to concentrate the flavor, in other words, it does grandma’s work for you.

The cool thing about Swanson is that they really do make their stocks and broths just like I do at home, only on a much larger scale.

This is what’s in my Swanson stock

  • Chicken stock (made with free-range chickens raised without antibiotics)
  • water
  • onions, organic
  • sea salt
  • chicken flavor
  • carrots, organic
  • yeast extract ~ (a natural flavoring derived from yeast which adds a bit of savory umami flavor)
  • celery, organic
  • natural flavoring
  • spice
  • canola oil

This is what’s NOT in my Swanson stock:

  • GMOs (genetically modified crops)
  • artificial flavors
  • preservatives
  • added MSG

rainbow carrots for chicken soup

I appreciate the many choices Swanson gives me for my recipes, they’re continually updating and innovating their collection of broths and stocks so  I can always find something that perfectly enhances whatever I’m cooking.

a bowl of chicken soup with spoon and napkin

What’s the difference between Swanson stock and broth anyway?

I confess I use them interchangeably, and grab whatever I have on hand, but there is a distinct culinary difference between the two…


According to Swanson, stock is your go-to ingredient when you want to build layers of flavor in a recipe that features meat. Its meat-focused, lightly seasoned flavor profile and rich taste allow you to control the seasonings in a dish. It’s the bones that give stock its distinct flavor characteristics, and the collagen extracted from them during simmering gives stock a slightly gelatinous texture which creates body and depth. Stock is a great base for braising, pot roasts, pan sauces and gravies.


Broth is different from stock because it’s made by mainly simmering meat and bones (sometimes roasted, sometimes not) with herbs and mirepoix (a mix of onions, carrots and celery) for less time. It’s a bit more subtle-tasting and has more of a finished seasoning level so it’s ready to eat as is.  Swanson recommends broth when you’re making soup, or when you want to add a flavor boost to side dishes like mashed potatoes , grains, or veggies, etc.

pistou for chicken soup

The emerald green pistou is a French trick for livening up soups…it’s a pesto-like blend of fresh basil, garlic, lemon, and olive oil. This optional step adds a pop of bright flavor and color when you spoon it onto the soup before serving. Stir it in just before taking your first slurp. Grandma would approve.

chicken soup in a bowl with spoon

Double the recipe to make enough nourishing soup to get the entire family through the worst times. I keep an army of Swanson cartons in my cupboard so I’m ready at the first sign of a sniffle in our house.

holding a bowl of chicken soup

This delicious soup is Paleo, gluten free, Weight Watchers, and Whole 30 friendly.

chicken soup in a bowl

classic chicken soup in a bowl with spoon
3.54 from 15 votes

Not Your Grandma’s Chicken Soup

Author Sue Moran


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek sliced (or 1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger thumb sized grated
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups thinly sliced rainbow carrots
  • breast meat from a rotisserie chicken shredded
  • 32 ounce carton Swanson Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or cayenne powder to taste
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves

pistou (optional)

  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 1 tsp lemon juice more to taste
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves


  • To make the pistou, put all the ingredients into a small food processor and process until smooth. Taste to adjust any of the seasonings. To make a thinner sauce, add more oil.
  • For the soup, add the olive oil to a pan and saute the leeks and garlic for several minutes to soften the leeks.
  • Add the ginger, turmeric,carrots, chicken, and chicken broth and bring up to a simmer. Cook the soup just long enough for the carrots to tenderize, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the baby spinach leaves and let the heat of the soup wilt them. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh thyme leaves at the very end.
  • Serve the soup with a dollop of pistou in the center.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Make it your own ~


Don’t forget to pin this 30 minute chicken soup!

chicken soup pin

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Lurline Wagner
    October 4, 2020 at 9:05 am

    5 stars
    This soup is comforting, filling, and above all it is healthy. With turmeric, cayenne, and ginger added in the soup.

    This is my to go to soup in winter.
    Instead of pistou, I sprinkle roasted garlic, fried onions, and green onions on top of the soup.

    Thanks Sue

    • Reply
      October 4, 2020 at 9:29 am

      Thanks Lurline <3 I think fried onions make just about everything better.

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