For the Soul

Chicken Soup

Photograph by Benjamin Williamson

Chicken soup with beans, greens, and homemade stock.

This time of year, the alluring whiff of simmering chicken stock and the promise of a big bowl of soup, bolstered by the addition of greens and beans, softens the onset of Maine’s chilly evenings.


Serves 8


For the Stock

1 yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 whole chicken
herb bundle (2 sprigs thyme, rosemary and parsley, 1 bay leaf, 12 peppercorns)

For the Soup

2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
2 leeks, roughly chopped
3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 cups chicken stock
½ chicken
1 bunch kale or Swiss chard, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
2 cups cooked beans, such as cannellini or Jacob’s Cattle*
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)
6 sprigs parsley, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped

*Most dried beans need to be soaked a day ahead of time, then strained, rinsed, and gently cooked in simmering water for 1–1½ hours. Salt at end of cooking process, tasting frequently for doneness in final 30 minutes.


For the Stock

In large covered stockpot, sweat onions, carrots, and celery, with touch of salt, over medium-low heat until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Place chicken in same pot and cover with water. Add herb bundle and bring water to boil, then reduce to simmer. With slotted spoon, remove any foam that rises. Simmer 45 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool enough to handle. Strain stock into large bowl or other container through fine mesh sieve, pressing liquid from vegetables with wooden spoon. Stock stays good for three days in refrigerator, six months in freezer.

For the Soup

In large soup pot, sweat onions, leeks, carrots, and garlic until onions are translucent, about 15 minutes. Add 12 cups chicken stock and picked meat from half of chicken (reserving remainder for another use). Simmer 15 minutes. Add greens and cooked beans. Simmer 1 minute. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Before serving, garnish with chopped parsley.



Annemarie Ahearn

Annemarie Ahearn runs Salt Water Farm cooking school in Lincolnville and is the author of the recently published cookbook Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm.