It’s finally fall! But that means the dreaded Gainesville Plague is surely upon us. After exhausting our bodies with midterms, road trips and tailgates this month, I’d say it’s about time for a little pick-me-up.

To this day, when I go back to my home in South Florida and start feeling under the weather, my mom asks, “Do you want my chicken soup? I have it in the freezer.”

As a child who grew up straining all the green bits out of her soup, I've evolved to appreciate not only the final product but the entire process too. When I chop the vegetables for the mirepoix, my soup's flavor base, I'm reminded of how this was my task when cooking with my mom before Passover. When I carefully spoon up some hot broth to taste the salt level, I'm reminded of my mom blowing on the spoon to cool down her own soup and get my opinion.

Rae Gutcheon

Nothing feels more like home when I'm 300 miles away than the smell of the chicken soup boiling on the stove. 

While time-consuming at first, making your own soup is well worth it. And as my mama taught me, it’s a time investment that pays out weeks later when you can just reach into your freezer and defrost a hearty bowl. 

As with most family recipes and especially chicken soup recipes, the measurements are more suggestions than requirements, so construct the soup to your own taste. 

You Will Need:

1 large stock pot

2 large tongs 

1 large bowl

1 whole bag of carrots, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 whole bag of parnsips, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 whole bag of celery hearts, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 sweet onions, quartered

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed 

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 whole chicken, giblets removed, excess feathers pulled

1 package of egg noodles (optional)

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Garlic Powder 

Onion Power


Fresh Dill


1. Prep the mirepoix: Peel the carrots and parsnips. Cut carrots, parsnips and celery into 1-inch cubes. Peel and quarter the onions, and smash and remove the peels from the garlic. Heat your stock pot over a medium-high burner and pour in the vegetable oil when it gets hot. Throw in the smashed garlic, the onion quarters, and the parsnips and roast until fragrant. 

2. Prep the chicken: Place the chicken on a baking sheet. Season liberally all over with kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Let it sit while you finish roasting your vegetables.

Rae Gutcheon

3. Construct the stock: When the garlic, onions and parsnips are fragrant, add in the carrots and celery. Then, place the chicken in the stock pot on top. Fill the stock pot with water just until the chicken is completely covered. (If you use too much water, you'll have a weak broth.) Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium. Place the lid on the pot and let it simmer away for 10 minutes.

During this time, wrap a bundle of dill in a tied-off cheese cloth or place into a mesh tea infuser. After 10 minutes, put the dill in the stock pot and replace the lid. Let simmer for 35-55 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken. When you can stick a fork into the chicken with no resistance, the chicken is done. 

Rae Gutcheon

4. Prep the Noodles: While your stock cooks, in a smaller pot, boil eggs noodles until al dente, anywhere from 5-7 minutes as they cook quickly. If they're a little underdone, it's okay as they will continue to cook after adding them to the stock. Drain and set aside. 

5. Shred the Chicken: Carefully remove the chicken with two metal tongs and place into a large bowl. Using two forks, shred the chicken and remove any bones and cartilage. When shredded, add the chicken to the stock pot. 

6. Season the soup: Finally the time for seasoning. Taste a small spoonful of your soup and gradually add in kosher salt. You will need a lot of this. You will probably think you are adding too much of this. But keep tasting and stirring and I guarantee you, it will eventually get to the flavor you desire. Crack in some black pepper to deepen the flavor profile and you're set. 

At this point you can add the egg noodles to the stock pot if you desire, or you can serve them in individual bowls and pour the soup over them. 

The Result

The clear, yellow broth is perfectly salty, but without the threat of ridiculously high sodium or lacking flavor from store-bought alternatives. The sweet root vegetables are the perfect complement to the tender shredded chicken and al dente egg noodles. And don't forget the unexpected superstar and my childhood enemy: the dill. It brings both brightness and depth to the soup, and without it, it simply doesn't taste like it will cure my colds. I guess what I should say is, my mom was right.