Chicken Alphabet Soup | Kitchen Explorers | PBS Food

Chicken Alphabet Soup

I’m not sure how my daughter Mimi avoided catching the flu bug in our house, but for the rest of us who have been sick, life has been miserable this past week.

After a really nice winter break, both girls were supposed to start school again this morning. Excited to wear her new black winter boots her aunt bought her for Christmas, Mimi left the house eager to see her friends.

Still in bed and coughing up what sounded like her lungs, Abigail was buried under her blankets with our new puppy cuddling with her at her feet.  Once I placed my palm on her warm forehead I knew, with no need of a thermometer, that her health didn’t improve overnight and she would not be be attending school with her sister today.

“No school for you today, okay?” I gently told her as I left her room to go downstairs to make Mimi her lunch.  All I heard was a soft moan of agreement. With not much of an appetite or energy, my concern for Abigail was to make sure she felt cared for and loved. TLC (tender loving care) goes a long way when anyone in my family feels lousy.

Before we married, my husband was a stereotypical bachelor who relied on drive through fast-food meals, boxed tv dinners, and cans of soup stocked in his kitchen cupboards. When we started dating I remember asking him over the phone what he planned on eating when he caught a bad case of the flu and was forced to take sick leave (he never took sick leave and rarely does till this day!!).

“I’m just going to make chicken noodle soup,” he said while coughing. “From a can?” I asked in dismay, even though I already knew the answer was “yes.”  Before he could respond I said, “don’t eat, I’ll be right there.”

This conversation was the beginning of a new family tradition of me making homemade chicken noodle soup when anyone in our family is sick.

There are many opinions on how effective chicken noodle soup really is for healing a sick body. Although I’m not convinced there are enough nutrients in chicken noodle soup to really aid in fighting the flu, I also know for a fact homemade soup matters because it involves a type of TLC home remedy that a person craves for when they feel lousy. You just can’t buy TLC over the counter.

When kids are sick and feeling miserable they often depend on “doctor mom’ to help them feel better. My kids in particular rely on me to weigh in on their recovery by making sure they get enough rest, drink plenty of water, and sometimes insist they eat.

Even from a can, chicken noodle soup is easily digested and the sodium from the broth often soothes sore throats much like gurgling salt water, a proven home remedy. I make different variations of homemade chicken noodle soup for my husband and kids depending on who is sick and how much time I have. Sometimes I make homemade egg noodles and chicken stock and other times I use packaged dry pasta and store bought chicken broth.

Today’s easy recipe for homemade chicken alphabet soup will tempt even finicky eaters into a serving, even when they don’t have much of an appetite. And kids love the pasta shaped letters and tiny bite sized vegetables.

Parents will not only be providing some extra TLC for their sick kids, they will feel good knowing they are doing something to care of their loved ones.

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Chicken Alphabet Soup

A kid-friendly recipe for chicken alphabet soup.



  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 small boneless chicken breast filet, cut into tiny cubed pieces
  • 1-32 ounces box chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup dried alphabet shaped pasta


  1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter on medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the chicken and cook until it is opague. (Don't worry if the chicken is not cooked through - it will fully cooked in the broth.)
  4. Pour the broth and bay leaf into the pot and bring it to boil.
  5. Add the pasta and cook for 7-8 minutes until the pasta is cooked al dente (soft but firm).
  6. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Discard the bay leaf.
  7. Serve immediately.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Total Time: 25 Minutes

Yield: 4

Alice-Currah-169x215Alice Currah is the publisher of popular food blog, Savory Sweet Life. Her approachable everyday recipes are accompanied by beautiful step by step photos and have been featured online at Martha Stewart, Real Simple, The Pioneer Woman, Epicurious, Bon Appetit, Saveur, iVillage and many more. In March 2010, featured Alice as one of “Eight of the Very Best Food Bloggers.” You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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