Something Different
Week of: November 8, 2010
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

A Bowl of Chicken Soup Becomes a Meal

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Recently, chicken soup fortified with bite-size pieces of chicken and an assortment of other mix-ins was all I wanted while recovering from bronchitis. I ate it many ways, all easy enough for someone feeling under the weather to make. Thanks to the combination of vegetables, whole grains or beans, and health-enhancing herbs, I realized they would also be good one-bowl meals to enjoy any time.

Not being up to making broth from scratch, I relied on commercial options. When using these, look for a brand with no more than 500 mg sodium per serving (less would be even better). My personal choice is to pay extra for organic, but every brand of chicken broth tastes different, so sample several, then stick with the one you like best.

For mix-ins that amplified the broth into a meal, I used frozen choices. The easiest – “almost mom’s” chicken soup – was a blend of carrots, peas and green beans with frozen brown rice and a sprinkling of chopped dill. Also good was a blend of corn, red peppers and black beans, garnished with chopped cilantro and crumbled tortilla chips in place of rice.

Adding fresh spinach was another choice. For this, grasp a handful and, using a pair of scissors, snip it into bits over a steaming bowl of broth. Stir for a minute for perfectly wilted greens. For Asian flavor, I completed this version by adding thinly sliced bok choy and grated fresh ginger, plus chopped scallions. Another time, I tossed in canned white beans and pesto for Italian chicken soup.

One of the best versions included cooked buckwheat. Try this recipe to see how good this underappreciated and hearty whole grain is in chicken soup.

Chicken Soup

Chunky Chicken Soup with Buckwheat

  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/3 cup whole-grain buckwheat
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 large celery rib, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3/4 cup frozen pearl onions, or fresh chopped onion
  • 4 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided*
  • 2 cups roasted chicken breast, in bite-size pieces
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat oil to medium-high heat in medium-size saucepan. Add buckwheat, stirring constantly, until grains are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Off heat, pour in water, taking care, as liquid will spatter. Return pan to stove, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, covered, until buckwheat is al dente, about 15 minutes. Set covered pan aside.

Place carrots, celery and onions in large saucepan. Add 1/2 cup broth, cover and simmer over medium-high heat until vegetables are crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Add remaining broth, chicken and cooked buckwheat. Add salt and pepper to taste. When soup is hot, divide among four wide, shallow bowls. Garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon parsley, and serve.

Note: If desired, in place of roasted chicken, gently simmer a 3/4-pound skinless and boneless chicken breast in broth in large saucepan. When it is white in the center, about l5 minutes, set chicken breast aside. Line strainer with paper towel and strain broth into bowl. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces. Clean out pot and proceed, cooking vegetables and completing soup as above.

*To reduce sodium content to 80 mg per serving, use low-sodium chicken broth.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 210 calories, 5 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrate,
25 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 530 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

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