This gut-healing chicken soup recipe holds a very special place in my heart. It was one of the first recipes I mastered when I began my gut healing journey!
As it turns out, soup is for much more than just the soul. If you’re on a gut healing journey, this soup may be a missing link for you too!
Let’s first unpack the multitude of health benefits this homemade chicken soup recipe has to offer.
(Updated: September 26, 2022)
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links for products that I love, recommend to my clients, and choose personally. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission for purchased made through my affiliate links at no extra cost to you!
Disclaimer: this is not medical advice, and there is no cure for IBS or IBD. This post is meant to be educational and informative. Please consult your doctor and registered dietitain for medical/nutrition advice pertaining to your gut health!
Gut healing 101
Before we dive into this timeless chicken soup recipe, you may be wondering: what does gut-healing actually entail? How do you heal the gut?
Let’s start there!
Here’s the thing…
When it comes to gut healing, most people believe they *just* need a list of foods to eat, and a list of foods to avoid.
But there’s so much more to gut healing than removing and replacing foods that bother you! (That’s just ONE of 6 core pillars of gut healing, aka what I often refer to as complete gut repair.)
Why focus on gut repair?
Most people completely miss the boat on nourishing and supporting your gut with specific types of nutrients and other building blocks your intestinal cells required for your gut to eventually become healthier, stronger, and more resilient. (That’s where functional foods like this gut-healing chicken soup come into play!)
If you don’t properly repair your gut, then avoiding foods that trigger your unwanted symptoms and/or taking pills that provide temporary relief, which is basically like treading water versus moving forward.
Whether you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel disease (IBD) or you’re navigating leaky gut syndrome, it’s important to keep in mind your dietary restrictions and/or your reliance on medications to stay in remission will never go away if you avoid a laundry list of foods, pop pills, and stop there.
Those things will anchor you down for the rest of your life until you repair your gut which determines how well you digest the food you’re eating.
When you actually repair your gut lining (yup, that’s a thing and it IS possible), over time you’ll GAIN back some or possibly even many foods that used to make you sick – because a healthy gut works properly and does what it was designed to do! This is something that I experienced first-hand, and it’s something I witness often in my nutrition clinic. It’s not an anomoly!
What makes this soup gut-healing?
What’s so “gut-healing” about chicken soup? More than you might expect!
The traditional chicken broth that our ancestors used to make has started making a full-circle comeback in the world of gut health.
Amino acids for a healthy gut lining
Since this recipe entails slow-cooking chicken that contains some bones, the bones release a special profile of amino acids (building blocks of protein) including cysteine, proline, l-glutamine, and arginine. These specific amino acids are all key micronutrients which serve as fuel for our intestinal cells (“enterocytes”).
Enterocytes are known to turn over every 48 hours (give or take). WHen given the proper fuel in combination with the right environment (foods, microbes, pH level, etc.), your enterocytes will finally be able to re-build healthier and stronger. (1, 2, 3, 4)
The gut and the skin: as within, so without
It’s no coincidence that the foods and nutrieints most beneficial to the gut also benefit the skin! The gut is essentially our inner skin. Both the gut and the skin serve as our primary barriers between the inside of the body and the outside world. A healthier gut is also generally linked with healthier skin.
Collagen for skin
Collagen is a form of structural protein in the body, naturally found in joints and ligaments. This chicken soup is naturally high in both collagen and gelatin, because it’s made with bones.
While more research is needed, some studies have found correlations between collagen supplementation, improved skin elasticity, and better wound healing outcomes.
- A 2013 double-blind placebo study from Skin pharmacology and physiology found that in just 8 weeks, elderly participants who took collagen peptides daily experienced a pretty decent improvement in skin elasticity. Not bad!
- A systemic review from the Journal of drug and dermatology in 2019 concluded that both short-term and long-term collagen supplementation for anti-aging (skin-wise) and wound-healing.
Collagen for gut health
Collagen is a key component of this soup that contains wtihin it many of the gut-healing amino acids I mentioned earlier.
- To learn more about how and why you may want to integrate collagen into your gut-healing regimen, check out this article!
Is all chicken soup gut-healing?
While it’s super exciting to hear about the health benefts of this chicken soup, remember that not all chicken soup is the same!
Most commercially made chicken soups you see in supermarkets are made with de-boned chicken, and/or they contain a bunch of additives that aren’t serving your health at the highest level.
However, I totally understand it’s not always feasible or practical to make your own gut-healing chicken soup. If you’re looking for some store-bought alternatives that offer gut healing benefits comparable to this chicken soup recipe, you may want to check out some of the optoins below!
Best store-bought chicken bone broths for gut health
There are also more options which I haven’t yet included in this post. (We dive deeper into bone broth and meat stock in my Complete Gut Repair Roadmap online course!)
But before you dive head-first into the deep-end when it comes to bone broth, it’s important to keep in mind chicken soup and bone broth are still not for everyone from a clinical standpoint.
Believe it or not, one of the biggest mistakes most health practitioners are making is recommending bone broth to everyone with digestive issues.
People who have a very damaged gut, such as those with Crohn’s, colitis or even just chronic diarrhea, are better off making a “meat stock” or chicken stock using less bones and a shorter cooking time. This is because a damaged gut lining does not properly process too much glutamine, collagen or gelatin.
That said, if you’ve got severe digestive damage, I recommend using a whole chicken or just chicken thighs and cooking this broth on low heat for about 4 to 6 hours, versus for a longer time of 8 to 24 hours.
How to cook with gut-healing chicken bone broth / stock
Aside from sipping this stuff straight out of the mug, there are infinite ways to enjoy this nourishing, healing elixir! Here are a few of my favorite ways to cook with bone broth:
- Use this crockpot chicken bone broth in homemade soups/stews – spaghetti & meatball soup, carrot ginger, or broccoli cheddar to name a few!
- Boil potatoes or other veggies in homemade chicken bone broth instead of water.
- Cook savory grains (rice, quinoa, pasta) in homemade chicken bone broth, for extra flavor.
Sometimes when I’m feeling crunched for time, I will omit the veggies and make this recipe with just chicken, water, salt and apple cider vinegar.
It’s just as good, and you really can’t taste a difference when it’s being used in a soup recipe. That’s what I love about cooking – there are no rules! 🙂
Gut-Healing Chicken Soup
- Cutting board and knife for chopping
- 1 gallon (4 quart) crock pot or slow cooker
- Measuring utensils
- 1 gallon filtered water We love our Berkey filter but any is fine!
- 3-6 lb whole chicken or chicken thighs
- 2 whole carrots washed, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery washed and chopped
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 tbsp Celtic sea salt or any sea salt
- 2 tbsp Bragg's apple cider vinegar or any other unpasteurized vinegar that contains "The Mother"!
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary optional
- 2 cloves fresh garlic optional
- 2 bay leaves optional
- Add all ingredients to crock pot and keep on low heat. After the first hour, skim off any foam that has risen to the top.
- Continue to cook on low heat for 4 to 8 hours or longer. I sometimes cook mine up to 24 hours or more! Cook for less time (4 to 6 hours) and use more meat, less bones if you have a damaged gut lining.
- When your stock is ready, strain it through a colander into storage containers.
- Make sure you let the stock cool in the refrigerator before consuming it.
- Once it has cooled, you'll notice that a white layer of fat has settled on top – you can throw this out or save it for sauteing/roasting veggies. This type of fat is optimal for high-temperature cooking, since it’s more heat-stable with a higher smoke point than most oils!
- Organic ingredients (especially the chicken) are recommended, only if feasible.
- When eating at home, Celtic sea salt and Real Salt are two top salts I use and recommend.
- Although this recipe calls for salt, it’s still considered lower in sodium than most commercially-made stocks. The salt is necessary for extracting some of the nutrients into the broth. If you have high blood pressure, consider using less salt (1 tablespoon salt instead of 2) depending on your sodium restrictions.
- Use or freeze homemade stock within 5-7 days.
- “Benefits of Bone Broth.” Doctor Auer RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
- Daniel, Kaayla T., Ph.D, C.C.N. “Taking Stock: Soup for Healing Body, Mind, Mood, and Soul.” Psychology Today. N.p., 20 Feb. 2012. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.
- Miller, A. L. “Therapeutic Considerations of L-glutamine: A Review of the Literature.” Alternative Medicine Review 4.4 (1999): 239-48. Europe PubMed Central. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.
- Hond, E. Den, M. Hiele, M. Peters, Y. Ghos, and P. Rutgerts. “Effect of Long-term Oral Glutamine Supplements on Small Intestinal Permeability in Patients with Crohn’s Disease.” Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 23.1 (1999): 7-11. PubMed. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.