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Chicken soup recipe brings ginger, turmeric to classic warming bowl

This recipe for golden chicken vegetable soup includes chickpeas, ginger and turmeric.  (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
This recipe for golden chicken vegetable soup includes chickpeas, ginger and turmeric. (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special to the Washington Post

The chicken soup I grew up eating, the Jewish penicillin my grandmother and generations before her made, is such a part of who I am, I cook it from deeply ingrained memory, and I make it often. But recently, while I was starting to whip up a batch, I had the urge to spike it with a warming tingle of ginger instead of the usual dill. That tweak opened a wide gate, which ultimately led to this deeply delicious, nutritious recipe my grandmother would have found totally unfamiliar.

Along with the ginger, I added garlic and turmeric to bring both flavor and additional anti-inflammatory benefits to the usual onion-carrot-celery trio. I used chicken broth and added breast meat, as she would have, but you could use vegetable broth and omit the chicken to make it vegetarian if you prefer. Instead of the usual egg noodles, I went in a healthier direction with the add-ins using a can of chickpeas for heartiness and vegetable protein and green beans and spinach for more texture, color and nutrition.

The result is a soup that seems the very essence of healing goodness, comforting, belly-warming and full of flavor. With its golden-hued broth, bounty of green vegetables and chickpeas, it may bear little resemblance to my grandmother’s soup, but I’m 100% sure that she would love it.

Golden Chicken Vegetable Soup With Chickpeas

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium carrots (5 ounces total), diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium yellow onion (about 8 ounces), diced

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

1 teaspoon fine salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast

One (15-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas

4 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (1 cup)

2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped

In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the carrots, celery and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and turmeric and cook for 1 minute more. Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken. Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the chickpeas and green beans to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high and return the broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the green beans are tender, about 10 minutes.

While the green beans are softening, use two forks to tear the chicken into bite-size pieces. When the green beans are tender, return the chicken, with any accumulated juices, to the pot. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, ladle into bowls and serve hot.

Yield: 6 servings

Storage notes: Leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to three days.

Ellie Krieger is a cookbook author and registered nutritionist.

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