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Scrumptious Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls AKA Jewish Penicillin!

Homemade Chicken Soup AKA Jewish Penicillin

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This recipe for Homemade Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls AKA Jewish Penicillin will hit the spot and maybe even cure what ails you! Does a cold, flu or other illness have you down? Or are you just craving chicken soup? 

If you’re under the weather, make a batch of the best chicken soup recipe I’ve ever tasted. And it just might alleviate some of your congestion and other symptoms. At the very least, it tastes amazing!

 Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls AKA Jewish Penicillin in a white ceramic bowl

Homemade Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

This is the BEST chicken soup, Jewish penicillin, or whatever you’d like to call it.  I’ve always shied away from parsnips and dill is not my favorite herb, but they both add layers of flavor to this delicious soup.

I’ve added matzo balls or orzo, a small rice-shaped pasta, in the past, but any noodle or dumpling would be nice.  This Jewish chicken soup is perfect if you’re under the weather or just want something to warm you to the core on a chilly evening. I’ve shared this recipe with numerous friends, and every single one swears this is the best chicken soup they’ve ever tasted.

Overhead view of Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls AKA Jewish Penicillin in a white soup bowl with a spoon

How to Make the Best Chicken Soup Recipe

The process for making this Chicken Soup AKA Jewish Penicillin starts with placing a whole chicken in a large pot. This just won’t work with boneless, skinless chicken breasts; you need the bones for an unequivocal success in the flavor department.

Large chunks of vegetables are added along with herbs and the simmering process begins. Three hours later, you’ll be clamoring for a bowl of this fragrant broth, but make sure to add back some chunks of carrots and the shredded chicken.

Loading this soup up with matzoh balls makes for a most gratifying meal. I hope you’ll give this recipe a shot!

The Magical Healing Properties of Chicken Soup

Have you ever wondered why chicken soup is constantly recommended when you’re feeling under the weather? Or why chicken soup is often referred to as Jewish Penicillin? Well, there are a few reasons why a good, homemade (or even canned) chicken soup can relieve your upper respiratory infection symptoms.

  • Fluids help reduce congestion, though this is not limited to chicken soup.
  • The steam of a hot liquid can also help soothe the throat and open the nasal passages.
  • A 2000 study by The American College of Chest Physicians showed that chicken soup can help reduce upper respiratory inflammation, although it does not kill the viruses causing the illness. It actually inhibits the movement of white cells to the inflamed areas, which helps prevent further congestion.
  • A Huffington Post article sites the TLC factor, like when someone cares enough to provide comfort through a bowl of soup, it can actually help you feel better. It’s not the same as the placebo effect.
  • It’s often referred to as “Jewish” penicillin as chicken soup is a traditional food in Ashkenazi Jewish culture and part of the Passover meal.

More Chicken Soups You’ll Love

I always have a stash of chicken in my freezer, and I appreciate how versatile it is. From this comforting Chicken Jambalaya Soup to this hearty White Chicken Chili, the flavor profiles are endless. I also adore this Chicken Wild Rice Soup and how about this Creamy Chicken Soup? This French Côte d’Azur Cure-All-Soup has loads of garlic and chicken broth and is touted to cure hangovers! it might also have similar powers as this Jewish chicken soup! This flavorful Verde Chicken Soup and  Asian Chicken Soup also caught my eye!

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

The BEST chicken soup you'll ever make!! My friends will vouch for this!! Adapted from How to Cook a Wolf Blog

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Yield 8 servings


  • 3-5 pound chicken (you can also use bone in chicken parts)
  • 2 large onions, peeled
  • 5 stalks of celery, leaves included, cut in half
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, with ends removed
  • 1 parsnip, peeled
  • 1 or 2 small zucchini, each cut into 3-4 chunks
  • 3 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch of Italian parsley
  • 1 bunch of dill
  • Salt to taste
  • Orzo or other small pasta or homemade matzoh balls


  1. Place chicken in large pot. Add onions, celery, carrots, parsnip, zucchini and garlic. Cover all ingredients with cold water...but not too much...just an inch over the veggies. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Skim off any foam.
  2. Add salt. Lay parsley and dill atop the soup. Place lid on pot, but leave it off slightly to allow steam to escape. Continue simmering for 3 more hours, skimming the foam from time to time.
  3. Remove chicken and veggies from the broth. Strain the broth through a sieve. Slice carrots and add to broth. Remove chicken meat from bones and tear into bite sized pieces. Add back to broth. Add cooked orzo or another pasta, matzoh balls or dumplings. Garnish with parsley to serve.
  4. You may cook your pasta in the broth, but it will soak up a lot of the soup. Linda suggests adding the pasta to your bowl then topping it with soup...the pasta will swell up if the stored in the soup overnight.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 749 Total Fat: 38g Saturated Fat: 11g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 23g Cholesterol: 266mg Sodium: 333mg Carbohydrates: 27g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 6g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 72g

Lambeau sniffing Homemae Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

Lambeau checking out this Chicken Soup AKA Jewish Penicillin circa 2010

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14 comments on “Homemade Chicken Soup AKA Jewish Penicillin”

  1. Gosh, don’t know why I’ve never been a fan of chicken soup. Maybe I never had a good recipe.

  2. Lizzy….your soup looks great, I could use a bowl now with this nasty on going headache. Everything looks perfect and a nice clear broth. I also make Linda’s chicken soup and has become a favourite here and dill is my fave herb. Did Lambeau get a piece of chicken?

  3. I made chicken soup today, we just finished eating it for dinner. This is a great recipe, hard to mess it up too! I bought a package of Mandlen to add to our bowls and boiled up some mini egg bowtie noodles. I add whole peeled onion, pierced with cloves but other than that, the recipe is very similar.

  4. Looks great Lizzy!
    I could use a bowl of my soup right now!
    Beautiful pics!

  5. That’s a beautiful bowl of soup! I like the big chunks of carrots, and the broth looks excellent.

  6. Thanks, everyone! It was wonderful to come home to a hot bowl of soup on a cold, rainy night…

  7. Your soup looks soooo delicious! I love that you added zucchini to the recipe. Thanks for such a tasty looking recipe! YUM! 🙂

  8. Thanks, Gingerbreadcake!! Hope you try it 🙂

  9. Lizzy-Looks like Lambeau would like the soup, as well…so cute!
    Jewish penicillin is one of my specialties, which I have been making for a long time, with matzoh balls.
    Your soup is perfect, colorful, and beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Lizzie, I’d love to see your recipe! Yes, Lambeau would have loved a big slurp of soup 😉

  11. altho it’s too hot for soup in August, I’ll deftly make this when the temps drop in the fall! be well dear friend, roz

  12. Your soup is perfect for a cool fall day. Chicken soup is definitely comfort food for me, but not when it’s so hot here. I’ll have to wait until it cools off.

  13. The absolute best soup I’ve ever had. I add some peppercorns for added zip, but other than that make it as listed. I truly believe this is the best medicine if not for a cold, but also the soul. Thanks Liz!

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