It's been chilly out and it's only a matter of time before you get sick. When the inevitable cold hits you want to make sure that you have a plan to make that mother of all cure-alls: chicken soup. I'm not talking about the stuff from a can—a sick day is a great excuse to make homemade soup. I'm a sucker for Vietnamese pho ga, but we've got plenty of other global recipes, from matzo ball and chicken noodle to Filipino arroz caldo and Mexican pozole verde. Keep reading for 17 chicken soup recipes that'll hit the spot, whether you're sick or you're just cold and hungry.
The Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup
No use beating around the bush: This is the ideal form of the chicken soup most people think of when they're feeling under the weather. While it may take a little more work than popping open a can, the extra time and effort yields pretty stellar results. Roasting chicken wings to use in the stock amplifies the chicken flavor even as it renders out a fair amount of golden chicken fat, which is used to give the sous vide chicken breast extra lusciousness, and cooking the pasta separately and adding it at the end ensures that it's perfectly al dente.
Rich and Flavorful Chicken Soup
Maybe you don't feel like noodles, but you still want tender chunks of chicken and a deeply flavored chicken broth. Well, this soup's for you. The success of this recipe depends on paying attention to the little details: controlling the temperature of the chicken stock ensures perfectly cooked chicken; adding the vegetables near the end of the cooking process ensure they won't get mushy; and a sprinkling of minced fresh herbs right before serving gives the soup a little aromatic lift.
Pozole Verde de Pollo (Green Mexican Hominy and Chicken Soup)
Traditional pozole verde is an all-day affair—probably too ambitious for a sick day. This streamlined one-pot version only takes a little more than an hour from start to finish. The vibrant soup is made with tomatillos, peppers, onions, chicken, pumpkin seeds, and hominy. Epazote and sorrel are good additions, but don't worry if you can't find them.
Sopa de Lima (Yucatán-Style Lime Soup)
This Yucatecan version of tortilla soup gets its distinctive flavor from limas ágrias, citrus fruit similar to limes but with a sweeter aroma and slightly bitter aftertaste. You can't really find them in the United States, so we go with a combination of lime and grapefruit instead. Beyond that, the soup is made with a charred sofrito, chicken broth, and poulty—chicken is the most widely available option, but turkey is more authentic.
Real-Deal Tortilla Soup
This recipe gives you another option for improving upon bland tortilla soup. We make it with bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts for tons of meaty flavor, plus whole dried ancho chilies and fresh tomatoes and corn. We also throw in a can of black beans—your body needs the extra nourishment when you're fighting a cold*.
*I'm not a doctor, but the black beans are a delicious addition regardless of their medicinal qualities.
Easy Creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup
When I'm sick I crave fatty, comforting foods. This enchilada soup fits the bill—a mix of pepper jack and cream cheese makes it ridiculously creamy, like Tex-Mex enchiladas in liquid form. It's also got plenty of earthy, spicy flavor thanks to a purée made of whole dried chilies. Chili powder would be easier, but if you're congested you'll appreciate the extra intense flavor.
The Best White Chili With Chicken
We also stir cheese into chicken chili, but then give it even more body with puréed white beans. For flavor we turn to three kinds of fresh chilies: spicy jalapeños, earthy poblanos, and grassy Anaheims (if you can get your hands on Hatch chilies, use them in place of the Anaheims). We char the chilies under the broiler with onion and garlic to give the dish some rich smokiness.
Black Bean Soup With Chorizo and Braised Chicken
This hearty stew is flavored with smokey chipotles and cooked Mexican or Spanish chorizo and bulked up with black beans (we use soaked dried beans rather than canned ones). To thicken the soup we blend up some of the beans and chorizo into a slurry. The spicy stew needs lots of fresh toppings—serve it with serranos, scallion greens, cilantro, avocado, lime, and crema.
The Best Matzo Ball Soup
Every family has their own recipe for matzo balls, and we're not here to say that any one version is the best. By adding varying amounts of seltzer, baking powder, and beaten egg whites you can make the dumplings dense sinkers or light as air. We like to poach the balls in chicken stock, then use fresh stock for serving (the poaching liquid gets cloudy).
Masa Ball Soup (Mexican Corn Dumplings in Chicken Soup)
This recipe might have been inspired by a pun, but the taste is no gimmick. We give the dumplings a tamale-like flavor by replacing the matzo meal with masa harina and the schmaltz with lard. To keep the Mexican flavor going we make the chicken broth the balls are served in with jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro.
Escarole and Parmesan Soup With Chicken Meatballs
These dumplings may be small, but they've got big flavor from chicken and Parmesan—no breadcrumb binders here. We pipe them straight into a pot of soup made with chicken broth, Parmesan rind, and a mirepoix. This is a fine time to use store-bought chicken broth because you're adding plenty of other ingredients.
DIY Chicken and Dill Instant Noodles
Most people can't justify skipping work for a cold, so sometimes you need to be able to take your chicken soup to go. These homemade instant noodles are just what you need for a workday pick-me-up. Par-cooked noodles, shredded chicken, and a chicken soup base go into a resealable glass jar, which you can keep in the fridge until lunch. Fill with boiling water, close the lid for a few minutes, and you've got a meal that'll make your coworkers jealous.
30-Minute Pressure Cooker Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
A pressure cooker can transform pho from a six-hour dish into one that only takes 30 minutes. We cook up chicken drumsticks with aromatics to make a rich, fragrant broth that we serve on top of rehydrated pho noodles. While the soup is cooking take a minute to prepare a variety of fresh garnishes: cilantro, scallions, bean sprouts, and hot Thai chilies.
Real-Deal Khao Soi Gai (Northern Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup With Chicken)
There's nothing wrong with Americanized "Thai-style" food, but this recipe keeps things traditional. It requires a few hours and a handful of ingredients that you're only going to find at a well-stocked Asian market, but the result is a real-deal bowl of khao soi. It's loaded with turmeric, lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, and Thai black cardamom and it has enough heat to clear out your sinuses, thanks to ginger and Thai bird chilies.
20-Minute Thai Red Curry Noodle Soup With Chicken
Craving Thai flavors in a more approachable package? This soup only takes 20 minutes and is made with relatively common ingredients like Thai red curry paste, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. You might not have any Thai rice noodles in your pantry, but thin spaghetti will work in their place.
Arroz Caldo (Filipino Chicken and Rice Soup)
You're probably familiar with Chinese congee, but have you tried arroz caldo, its Filipino cousin? This simple, comforting rice porridge is made with tender chicken thighs and a pungent mix of ginger, garlic, and fish sauce. Don't forget about the fried garlic garnish—crispy and assertive, it's just about the best part of the dish.
Easy Chicken and Ginger Soup With Rice Cakes, Chives, and Quick-Pickled Garlic
This Korean-inspired soup starts with an entire chicken, which we hack into pieces before cooking to get the most flavor out of it. To make it taste clean and bright we add a whole slew of alliums: garlic, onion, scallions, and three different kinds of chives (if you can find them). You could serve it with white rice, but Korean glutinous rice cakes have a slippery texture that is great for a sore throat.
Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup With Lime and Ginger
Everything tastes muted when you're congested, so you need extra spice to cut through. This recipe does the trick with a fiery Thai bird chili, which joins carrots, onions, and cabbage in an intense broth made with chicken bones, smoked ham, and aromatics. Garnished with fresh herbs, it's a powerful alternative to your grandma's chicken noodle soup.
Wonton Noodle Soup With Chicken and Shiitakes
Poached chicken gives this dish some heft, but the soup is really all about mushrooms. We go with dried shiitakes, rehydrating them before tossing in cornstarch and simmering. Soaking the mushrooms in room-temperature water for eight hours gives them the best texture and flavor, but 30 minutes in boiling water works okay if you're pressed for time.