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Chicken and Squash Soup

Fall gets us all craving cozy comfort food, and there’s nothing like a pot of soup slowly simmering away on the stovetop; that wonderful aroma saturating the house. The special thing about this Chicken and Squash Soup starts with a very essential element to the base of any soup: a great stock.

The thing about making stock though, is that it is a remarkably slow process. It takes hours to break down the connective tissue from a pot of chicken bones and scraps and extract flavors. The science of stock making is a fascinating one and J. Kenji López-Alt goes into great detail in his book The Food Lab – a wonderful book, needless to say. The ideal chicken stock should be simmered for around 4 hours. That’s enough time for the connective issue to convert into gelatin. That’s what yields a rich broth.

Chicken and Squash Soup

making the stock

But for this recipe we’re making a quick chicken stock. It’s still possible to get a lot of flavor this way, and it’s much better than using store bought. I used boneless chicken thighs for this one, but feel free to use bone-in, skin-one chicken thighs, backs, legs, or wings. Simmer on medium-low heat for 45 to 80 minutes. For this recipe specifically I didn’t have much time so I did about 50 minutes and I still got a lot of flavor. The little trick to build more flavor is to add a parmesan rind when it’s time to make the soup. If you don’t have any rinds, just add a parmesan chunk. I do that and it works great, too.

While the stock is simmering away, prepare the ingredients. Chop the celery, carrots, onion, and squash, and grate the tomatoes. Grating the tomatoes is fast and easy technique that allows you to get juicy tomatoes without any skin. Just use a box greater and gently great the tomatoes.

Once the stock is done, the soup comes together pretty quickly. Strain the stock, discard the solids, and shred the chicken. When I feel like chicken noodle soup, I skip the squash and use pappardelle instead. The one from Trader Joe’s tastes like fresh pasta, it’s that good. Same process, different carbs.

This recipe is a variation of a butternut squash chicken soup I’ve been making for years and it’s also inspired by Ottolenghi’s chicken and pappardelle soup. Although I couldn’t emphasize enough making your own stock is superior in taste and quality, feel free to use store bought.

If you want a clean, more refined stock, allow it to rest about 15 minutes when it’s done reducing, until the excess fat form a distinct layer on the surface. Then skim off with a ladle and discard the fat.

Making your own stock may sound daunting or excessive work, but it’s actually very hands off. All you have to do is dump it all in the pot and let it simmer away while you’re free to do anything else. If you end up with any leftovers, keep it in the fridge for another recipe. This soup comes together in one pot and it’s so delicious, it’s the prefect cozy fall dinner.

If you make this Chicken and Squash Soup please be sure to leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you and I love responding to every comment. And don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram. I’d love to see your photos!

Chicken and Squash Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 lb chicken thighs
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 parmesan chunk
  • 1 squash, acorn or butternut
  • 1 fresh red chili
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh dill, for garnish
  • salt
  • black pepper


  1. Make the stock: cut 1 onion into wedges, halve the head of garlic. Add the chicken, garlic, onion, 8 cups water, and 2 tsp of salt into a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil; lower to medium-low and simmer for 45 to 80 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken and shred the meat (using two forks). Set aside.
  4. Strain the stock and discard the solids.
  5. Prepare the ingredients: slice the carrots and celery; finely chop the onion and chili, cut the squash into small cubes. Grate the tomatoes.
  6. Heat the olive oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, chili, celery, squash, bay leaf, parmesan chunk. Cook, stirring, for a minute.
  7. Add the grated tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, until tomatoes cook down a bit.
  8. Pour in 6 cups of stock and 1/2 tsp salt, bring to a boil.
  9. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables have softened. Add more stock as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  10. Stir in the shredded chicken and cook for 5 to 10 more minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
  11. Top the soup with dill and grated parmesan. Serve.

Tips & Tricks: for chicken noodle soup, follow the same directions but omit the squash and add the noodles (I like using pappardelle) when adding the shredded chicken. Cook until al dente.

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