Friday, February 2, 2018

Irish Chicken Soup

Last weekend I was afflicted by a brief but memorable stomach bug (details withheld to protect the innocent), and after two days of no food, I felt a craving for . . . chicken soup.

Yes, my mother used to give me chicken soup when I was sick—straight from the Campbell’s can, or maybe from the Lipton package of dry chicken noodle soup (just add boiling water! But I will confess a fondness for those cute little noodles).

Instead, I had this dawn vision of a limpid pool of translucent broth, with hints of lovely vegetables cut into perfect cubes swimming in it, along with flecks of neatly chopped parsley.

Snort. Try finding that in a cookbook from this millennium! Recipes now all seem to include curry or kale or coconut milk or any number of things I’ve never had in my pantry. I wanted simple, soothing and easy.

In desperation I turned to the internet for inspiration. I found three recipes from different sources (filtering my choices by those of Irish origin). The first sounded promising until I read that it suggested adding dry potato flakes. Bah humbug! (Besides, the picture accompanying the recipe made it look like opaque pink slime.)

Number Two was better and was published by my favorite Irish supermarket chain, SuperValu. But it included both butternut squash and sweet potatoes, neither of which appeal to me.

Now comes the Goldilocks moment: Number Three was just right! I came upon it on a website that was devoted to potato recipes [Potatoes: More Than a Bit on the Side], which was a good start. It included chicken, and I felt I needed the protein, The whole thing took less than half an hour to prepare, including prep. Perfect!

Irish Potato, Chicken and Vegetable Soup


4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2-inch cubes (note: since the potatoes do not cook long in this recipe, floury ones are better because they cook faster)
1 chicken breast or two thighs (another note: Irish chicken breasts are smaller than American ones, so in Ireland you’d probably want to use two)
2 Tblsp butter
1 tsp flour
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion (or 2 leeks), thinly sliced
1-3/4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tblsp parsley

and feeling frivolous, I added 1 tsp fresh dill, which I just happened to have in the fridge,


In a saute pan, cook the chicken pieces in the olive oil until golden.

In a medium or large saucepan over low heat, cook the leeks and garlic in the butter until soft but not brown (about 5-10 minutes)

Add the flour and stir to cook, then pour in the chicken stock, add the cubed potatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken pieces (still intact) and cook for about 10 minutes (check to be sure the potatoes are cooked through). 

Remove the chicken pieces and shred with a fork (while keeping the soup simmering).

Put the chicken shreds back in the pan, add the thyme (and dill!), and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Partially cover and let simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve in bowls sprinkled with the parsley, with fresh bread on the side.

Comfort food! Simple and healthy!

And yet another note: you may notice there is little salt in this recipe. That’s a good thing. You can add more if you like, but taste first. And finally, you could certainly add other vegetables, but watch your cooking times. Carrots would take longer than most of the other ingredients and would throw off your scheduling. Or pre-cook them and add them at the end.

Many a Twist (County Cork Mystery #6), in bookstores (real and virtual) now! 

“Connolly vividly evokes rural Ireland, and her characters seem like real human beings trying their best to navigate their lives.”
Publishers Weekly


  1. Your comment about recipes all having kale or coconut milk or other strange ingredients made me laugh. You practically need a guide book to go grocery shopping these days in order to decipher what's on the shelves. There are days when good old-fashioned food that I ate growing up is what's required. (Campbell's tomato soup and grilled cheese, please).

    1. I agree with you Ellen. Going grocery shopping can be an adventure.

  2. My Mom always gave us chicken soup when we were sick too. I agree that sometimes a simple recipe is better.

  3. My son in law's abortion of a chicken soup uses sweet potatoes and zucchini, YUCK!!!

    Mine is simple (simple enough that I make 20qts at a time). I use the bones from the chicken breast I debone, to make a basic stock. Cook and strain that and then the fun starts. I use 6 or 7 of the industrial sized carrots, 3 or 4 LARGE parsnips, and large Spanish Onion. I dice them all up (just like in Campbell's soup) and first add the onion, ten minutes later I add the carrots, then 20 minutes later the parsnips. I let that simmer for almost an hour and then add in the scraps of meat that were on the chicken bones. Voila! A really great soup. ;)

    1. YUp, that works. I didn't even meet a parsnip until I was grown, but I'm fond of them.

  4. Love homemade soups, especially in the winter. This one sounds perfect!
    Nancy R in Ottawa

  5. There's a good reason those books are called "chicken soup for the soul"!
    Lovely stuff.

  6. I used to love that Lipton's chicken soup!

    1. I might still have some hiding in the back of the cupboard. Hmmm--better go check!

  7. What a lovely recipe, Sheila. So soothing, Looking forward to your new book. I love that series. Hugs. MJ

  8. Soups wonderful. And anything easy with simple, good ingredients works for me! My favorite soup for any time, especially when I do not feel good is what we call German Soup, lol. It is German bouillon and angel hair pasta broken into tiny pieces (like the Lipton noodles). We used to get the soup in packages, but I realized that was all it was in it. By the way I adored the book. Just finished it last night!

  9. Glad you're feeling better. Soup is so comforting, even when you've not been sick.