Cilantro Chicken Soup

Nat and I met almost 8 years ago to the day. Since then, food has grown slowly central in our relationship.

From the first salad we made in Boston, to testing Jamie Oliver cookbooks in Turners Falls, to pouring over food blogs in San Francisco, to studying nutrition in Berkeley, to last week in Sebastopol, when we listened to The Fat Summit - hours of interviews put together by Dr. Mark Hyman, with leaders in medicine, nutrition, and healthcare.

The information is endless.

It made me wonder, what pulled Nat and me down this rabbit hole?

I think it started as a search for answers - are GMOs bad for us? What about the environment? Is organic more nutritious? Is it healthier to go vegan? Better for your heart to eat paleo? Avoid fat, or blend butter in our morning coffee? 

We formed some opinions along the way, but it felt like Nat and I were looking for some advice that said finally: 

This is good. This is bad. Do this. Don’t do that.

The thing is, even among the top researchers and physicians, no one agrees on everything (except maybe to eat more vegetables). 

And, even with things that we know are unhealthy, there's always that outlier, that person that outlives his or her friends while smoking cigarettes with a daily doughnut. 

Which made me realize, the point isn’t to get answers. The point is to ask questions.

No one has a map for us, or can tell us what is good or bad. It's something we each have to find for ourselves.

The point is to be out here, on the search.

And, if your search involves a chicken soup, then you've come to the right place.


Cilantro Chicken Soup

Serves 8


  • 2 lbs chicken (Bone-in breast and thighs work well. Nat and I usually buy a whole chicken 3.5-4 lbs. We use the breast and legs in the soup, and save the rest to make stock).
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 carrots, halved then sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced on the bias
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or microplaned
  • 1-2" ginger, minced or microplaned
  • 4 cups bok choy ~ about 2 heads, chopped
  • 2 cups kale ~ half bunch, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 3 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4" piece of kombu (Optional - this is a seaweed, which is rich in minerals)
  • 10 cups water


  • Salt all sides of the the chicken with about 1/2 tsp of the salt.
  • Place dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, and add 1 tsp of the olive oil.
  • Once heated, add chicken, skin side down.
  • Cook for 3-6 minutes, until turning golden brown, then flip. Cook second side for another 3-6 minutes.
  • Remove chicken and set aside.
  • Add onions, celery, and carrots to the dutch oven or pot along with 2 tsp olive oil.
  • Stir well, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  • Cook veggies until softened, about 8-10 minutes. 
  • Add in garlic and ginger - cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add chicken back to the pot.
  • Add bay leaves, kombu, salt, and water. Bring to a simmer.
  • Turn heat to low. Cook covered for 30-40 minutes.
  • Turn off heat, and place chicken on a cutting board. 
  • Mix bok choy and kale into the soup. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, remove bones from chicken and cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Divide soup into bowls, and top with chicken and cilantro.

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