The tang and spice of fresh turmeric root really shines in this easy weeknight turmeric chicken soup. It’s a delicious twist on classic chicken soup that uses leftover chicken, lots of fresh vegetables, chicken bone broth, and a spiced turmeric coconut milk. It’s naturally gluten-free, paleo, and whole 30 compliant.
Earlier this week I blathered about my love for roasted chicken. Today I’m going to talk about how I use the leftover meat. In cooler weather, my go-to way to stretch a chicken is by using the leftovers in some type of soup or stew, like this Turmeric Chicken Soup.
Finding ways to maximize a pricey pastured chicken isn’t rocket science. A comforting soup packed with lots of fresh (and inexpensive) vegetables can be stretched into both dinner and lunch the next day. Using leftover meat and bone broth from the freezer makes for a quick, cheap weeknight meal that is nourishing and satisfying.
I was at my local store-front farmers market last week and they had fresh turmeric root. Two seconds later my brain pinged, and I was on my way home to make this savory, spicy, tangy turmeric chicken soup.
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Cooking with Fresh Turmeric
Turmeric seems to be all the rage these days for its purported health benefits as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. I’m not a trained nutritionist, nor am I a medical professional, so I’m not really going to get into it.
That being said, I am a foodie and an advocate for eating the rainbow, and for those reasons, I will tell you to source fresh turmeric root and enjoy it any way you can.
The flavor profile of fresh turmeric is incredibly distinctive. The taste is earthy, bitter and spicy – not “hot” spicy, more like “biting” spicy. Sort of like ginger on crack. It has a definitive zing.
Some folks enjoy it raw in fresh pressed juices (I’ve tried it, it’s fine by not really my thing). I like it best cooked, tempered by something sweet like coconut milk.
A fair word of warning on prep – peeling and slicing fresh turmeric will stain the shit out of your hands, cutting board, and anything else it comes into contact with. Wear gloves if you’re fussy about such things, or take a look at this article from Food52 about how to remove fresh turmeric stains.
I peel fresh turmeric by scraping off the skin with the edge of a spoon, just like you would with fresh ginger root (here’s a great tutorial showing the method I use). To make this turmeric chicken stew, I slice it up and add to the food processor to make a spiced coconut milk.
Turmeric Chicken Soup Recipe Notes
I used up the majority of my leftover breast and dark meat for this recipe, a little over two cups. It was enough chicken to be a little more stew than soup, so if you prefer a lighter take use just a cup.
I think this recipe would be really lovely with the addition of chickpeas (I didn’t prepare well and mine were still dry – a boy scout I am not) and if you use just half the meat, they’re a cheap and fulfilling companion. If you give it a whirl, let me know how it turns out.
Turmeric chicken soup is pretty adaptable for all seasons. The addition of sweet potatoes, yukon golds, peas, fresh or canned tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, or summer squash would all work well here. If you need more green, experiment with kale, chard, and/or mustard, but add them halfway through the cooking process so they don’t turn into a soggy mess.
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- Food Processor
- 1 ½ tbsp fresh turmeric root, sliced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 can whole fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium vidalia onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, including the tender green leaves, diced
- 2 c. chicken bone broth or stock
- 2 c. roasted chicken
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- pinch red pepper flakes
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- naan, for serving (optional)
- Peel and slice turmeric. In a food processor, blend the turmeric root with the cumin, coriander and coconut milk until smooth.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the coconut oil and heat until it melts. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and starting to brown around the edges, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute.
- Deglaze the pan with a few tablespoons of the spiced turmeric-coconut milk, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the remainder of the turmeric-coconut milk to the dutch oven, along with the carrots, celery, chicken bone broth, roasted chicken, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the stew is slightly thick, 20-25 minutes.
- Ladle the stew into bowls and top with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with naan bread.