A Simmering Pot of Winter Sunshine ☀️
Cozy soups are practically essential to survival here in Minnesota, where winter tends to drag on for months & months. While I love simmering a hearty pot of Minestrone or Chicken & Wild Rice Soup, there’s something about this Golden Soup recipe that makes me smile even on the grayest, chilliest day.
This turmeric chicken soup recipe is very similar to classic chicken noodle soup. However, a few simple upgrades infuse the broth with an extra-nourishing ✨golden✨ feel: warm ginger adds zippiness, turmeric adds an earthy punch of flavor, & freshly squeezed lemon juice ties it all together with a beautiful brightness.
The result is a mind-blowingly feel-good soup with a perfectly harmonious balance of flavors: light and cozy; warm and zippy; bright and feel-good. Each sip seriously tastes like warm sunshine on a cold winter day. Plus, its golden-orange glow is enough to soothe even the dreariest spirits. (Don’t just take my word for it – scroll to the bottom of this post & read the countless testimonials from other PWWB readers! 🥰)
Golden Soup Recipe Highlights
You will turn to this cozy turmeric chicken soup recipe all winter long. It’s…
CLASSIC, WITH A TWIST! Each bowl of golden soup offers everything there is to love about iconic chicken noodle soup, with feel-good additions of extra hearty veggies, warm ginger, bright lemon, & golden turmeric. A delicious way to mix it up!
WEEKNIGHT FRIENDLY. Turmeric chicken soup is a quick & easy, one-pot meal ready in 40 minutes or less. The perfect comforting meal to prep & enjoy all week long!
FEEL-GOOD FOOD. Enjoying a beautiful bowl of golden soup always feels super comforting & nourishing. Basically self-care but in soup form, it’s the best way to brighten your spirits on a dreary winter day!
Good for the mind, body, & soul! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Golden Chicken Soup, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
The fun thing about this golden soup recipe is that it calls for many of the ingredients you typically find in a pot of chicken soup. However, you’ll be sure to notice a few flavor-forward additions along the way. These added ingredients make it especially special – basically, everything you love about classic chicken noodle soup with a few extra feel-good twists!
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
- Chicken – Good ol’ boneless, skinless chicken works great here. We always opt for chicken thighs since they’re so flavorful & less prone to drying out in a simmering pot of soup. Feel free to use chicken breasts if that’s what you prefer.
- Mirepoix – The trusty trifecta of onions, carrots, & celery that makes up the base of almost every soup.
- Butternut squash – Hearty squash makes the golden soup extra golden & veggie-loaded. Feel free to swap out the squash for sweet potato if that’s what you prefer or happen to have on hand.
- Kale – While you’re free to use whatever leafy green you enjoy most, the hearty texture of kale holds up especially well in warm broth. I particularly love the texture of lacinato kale, which is often called dinosaur (dino) kale or Tuscan kale.
- Ginger & turmeric – The best flavors for cold weather season! Both fresh ginger & dried turmeric add a crave-worthy warm zippiness to this golden soup recipe. These flavor boosters are the game-changing ingredients that make this recipe extra bright & feel-good.
- Chicken broth – Essential for any chicken soup! Feel free to use store-bought broth or homemade chicken stock if you already have some on hand.
- Lemon juice – A chicken soup secret weapon. Lemon adds a ton of brightness without being overly lemony – the perfect finishing touch.
- Pasta – Short pasta like ditalini, small shells, or orzo work best since they’re about the same size as the other hearty golden soup ingredients. Feel free to skip it if you prefer a noodle-less turmeric chicken soup!
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is an ancient spice that’s been celebrated for centuries as both food & medicine. If you’ve ever enjoyed curry, chances are you’ve already enjoyed turmeric; it’s one of the primary ingredients used in many Indian & Thai red curry paste! India has been the largest producer of turmeric since ancient times, long before golden milk lattes found popularity in mainstream American coffee shops.
Some turmeric FAQs…
- What is in turmeric spice? ⇢ Dried turmeric is made from the root (rhizome) of Curcuma longa, a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. It’s in the same family as ginger & looks very similar to ginger root. Dried turmeric is made by peeling, boiling, drying, & grinding the turmeric root.
- What does turmeric taste like? ⇢ Turmeric is earthy & warm, with a peppery & slightly bitter flavor. To me, the closest comparison to turmeric is mustard – it has a similar rich earthiness with an extra little zippy kick.
- How much turmeric to put in soup? ⇢ Turmeric is very potent, so you don’t need a lot! This turmeric chicken soup recipe calls for just a teaspoon.
- What does the spice turmeric do for your body? ⇢ The curcumin found in turmeric (the substance that gives it a bright orange color) is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been used for centuries in Ayurveda and other Indian medicinal treatments. Our bodies don’t naturally absorb curcumin well, however. For its full benefits, it is best to enjoy turmeric with black pepper, which contains a compound called piperine that promotes curcumin absorption. (I always finish each bowl of turmeric chicken soup with a big crank of cracked pepper!)
How to Make Turmeric Chicken Soup
One of the best things about this golden soup recipe is that it tastes as if it bubbled away on the stovetop for hours. When, in reality, it really only takes about 40 minutes from start to finish! A few flavor-boosting tricks create deep flavor with minimal effort – perfect for busy winter weeknights!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Brown the chicken. Many soup recipes simply poach the chicken in the broth as it simmers, but we always like to take a few extra minutes to brown the chicken first. Simply cook the chicken a few minutes per side, until it turns a deep golden brown color. Why? ⇢ Browning the chicken creates an extra-rich oh-this-must’ve-simmered-all-day-long flavor in the whole pot of golden soup thanks to a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction. 🤓
Cook the vegetables. Cook the mirepoix & butternut squash in the chicken juices left in the pot. As the veggies soften, they’ll release moisture – use it to scrape up any browned bits that may have formed at the bottom of the pot. Why? ⇢ The French called these browned bits fond & they’re FULL of flavor. We definitely want them in our pot of golden soup!
Toast the aromatics. Stir the garlic, ginger, & turmeric into the veggies & let it all cook for 1-2 minutes. Why? ⇢ Toasting aromatic ingredients helps wake them up & bring their flavors to life!
Simmer. Add the browned chicken thighs back into the pot & pour the chicken stock over top. Stir everything & bring the golden soup to a simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes, just until the chicken is cooked through.
Finishing touches. Remove the chicken & shred it with two forks or use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer (yes, this works!). Add the shredded chicken back to the pot with the lemon juice & finely shredded kale. The hot soup will gently wilt the kale & turn it bright green. One last big stir & you’re ready to serve!
Golden Soup Noodle Tips
While this golden chicken soup is already nice & hearty without any pasta, added noodles really up its coziness even more! There’s just something about chicken noodle soup that is so classic & nostalgically comforting…it’s hard to beat.
A few tips for making turmeric chicken noodle soup…
Cook the pasta separately in heavily salted water until it is al dente. Or, submerge a fine mesh strainer in the pot of soup – fill it with pasta so the noodles cook directly in the golden chicken soup as it simmers (a brilliant hack from my friend Lauren). Learn More! ⇢ How to Cook Pasta Perfectly.
Don’t dump the cooked pasta into the soup pot! Instead, drain the pasta & add it to your serving bowl & ladle the golden soup on top of it. Why? ⇢ Pasta absorbs liquid like crazy! It’s best to store pasta separately because when it’s left in a broth it’ll become soggy & mess with the liquid ratio in the soup.
Storage, Freezing & Other Quick Tips
This golden soup recipe is one of our favorite things to make on Monday night & enjoy all week long. A big pot of soup is a great way to stock your fridge or freezer with a few extra meals for the week!
Storage & Reheating
You can keep leftover golden soup in the fridge for up to 5 days, just be sure to store your pasta separately! Reheat the golden soup in the microwave or on the stovetop & add the pasta directly into the warm broth. The heat of the soup will warm up the pasta too.
We also love to freeze leftover golden soup in storage containers like these to enjoy it again as an easy, cozy dinner down the road. Frozen golden soup will keep for up to 3 months. Simply thaw it in the fridge overnight & reheat it on the stove or in the microwave. Liven up the flavor with an extra squeeze of lemon juice!
Easy Vegan & Vegetarian Recipe Variation
Tweaking this turmeric soup recipe to be vegetarian or vegan-friendly is actually quite simple. A few things to keep in mind:
- Replace the chicken with a hearty ingredient you love, like chickpeas, white beans, or cauliflower florets. You may want to add some extra olive oil & spices (garlic, ginger, turmeric) to give the soup richer flavor.
- Be sure to swap out the chicken broth with your favorite vegetable broth.
We can’t wait for you to try this Golden Chicken Soup! It’s one of our most comforting PWWB soup recipes for the heart of winter – a ray of feel-good sunshine just when we need it most. ☀️ We’re pretty sure you’re going to love it just as much as we do!
If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡
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Feel Good Soup Recipes
As a self-proclaimed soup aficionado, I really don’t discriminate when it comes to warm & cozy soups – especially during the chilly winter months. But there’s something about this Golden Soup recipe that’s extra special.
It’s essentially a quick & easy-to-make turmeric chicken soup, but it’s loaded with feel-good veggies & the broth is infused with punchy ginger & turmeric. As a result, the whole pot of soup takes on next-level flavor & radiates with a beautiful golden glow. Finish it with a little lemon juice, & it tastes like golden-warm sunshine on a cold winter day.
Ever since we first shared this recipe early in 2020, this golden soup has brought comfort & warmth to countless PWWB readers’ kitchens. I sincerely believe it’s a recipe that’s good for mind, body, & soul during the winter months & I hope you love it just as much as we do. ♡ Happy cooking!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- ½ small butternut squash, peeled & diced into ¼-inch cubes (about 4 cups diced, may substitute with 1 medium sweet potato)
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled & grated or finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 48 ounces low-sodium chicken broth or stock (6 cups)
- 2 lemons, juiced (about ¼ cup)
- 1 bunch kale, destemmed & finely chopped (about 3 cups packed)
- optional: 8 ounces short pasta of choice, cooked to al dente according to package directions & drained
- Brown the chicken: Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towel, then season generously with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Carefully add the chicken thighs to the pot, working in batches as needed to avoid over-crowding. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until deeply golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside. The chicken will not be cooked through at this point – that’s fine!
- Cook the veggies: Reduce the heat under the Dutch oven/pot to medium heat. Add in the onion, celery, carrot, & butternut squash, seasoning with ½ teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Stir to combine. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, until the veggies are softened & tender.
- Add the aromatics: Add the garlic, ginger, & turmeric to the pot. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, until toasty & fragrant.
- Simmer the soup: Add the browned chicken thighs from Step 1 back into the pot. Pour the chicken broth over top. Increase the heat to medium-high to bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a soft boil & simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
- Finish the soup: Remove the chicken thighs from the pot & carefully shred. You can do so using 2 forks, or my favorite trick: pop them in a stand mixer & let the paddle attachment do the work for you (I swear this works!). Add the shredded chicken back into the pot, along with the lemon juice & kale. Stir to combine. Cook 2-3 minutes, until the kale has softened. Taste and season with additional salt or ground black pepper as desired.
- Serve: Ladle the golden chicken soup into individual bowls. If using, stir in a handful of the cooked pasta. Feel free to garnish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil or sprinkle on some finely chopped fresh herbs of your choosing. Serve immediately with a slice of buttered crusty bread, as desired – YUM! Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Can I use chicken breasts? Sure! While I love the extra flavor & richness that chicken thighs add to this soup, you can certainly feel free to swap them out with boneless, skinless chicken breasts if that’s your jam.
- Turmeric is an ancient spice with a peppery & slightly bitter flavor with warm & earthy notes. While it’s readily available in the spice aisle of most conventional grocery stores these days, I’m particularly fond of this ground turmeric, which is responsibly-sourced single origin turmeric with amazing flavor. Learn more about turmeric in the Ingredient Spotlight, above.
- Can I make this chicken soup vegetarian/vegan? Yes! Swap the chicken out with two 15-ounce cans of chickpeas or white beans (drained & rinsed) & swap the chicken broth for your favorite veggie broth to make your golden soup totally vegetarian & vegan. Skip Step 1 of Recipe Directions, adding the chickpeas into the soup in Step 4.
- Storage: Golden chicken soup will keep, stored in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. Transfer cooled golden chicken soup to an airtight container. If you made pasta for your soup, store it in a separate airtight container. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top until warmed through. (Note: If you opted for a turmeric chicken noodle soup, it’s important to store the pasta separately – if left in broth or stock for a long period of time, pasta absorbs liquid like crazy, which not only makes the pasta soggy when you reheat it, but also messes with the overall ratio of liquid in your soup.)
- Freezing: Transfer cooled golden chicken soup to a freezer-safe container & freeze for up to 3 months – these are my absolute favorite freezer containers for perfect individual portions! Thaw frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight & reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through. (Note: Same concept for storing pasta separately applies to freezing – for best results, I actually suggest boiling pasta fresh when you reheat the soup.)
- 15-Minute Meal Prep:Most of the active prep time involved with this golden soup recipe is chopping up the veggies. With just a little prep, you can cut down on all active prep the night you want to throw it together. Pick & choose from the list below, or do it all & all you have to do at dinnertime is get cooking – easy!
- Base veggies: Peel & dice 3 medium carrots & 1 medium yellow onion. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (5 minutes active time)
- Butternut squash: Peel, deseed & dice 1 medium butternut squash into 1/2-inch cubes & store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You will use half of the butternut squash (~4 cups) in this golden soup; use the other half in another recipe you love (this Vegan Red Curry & these Vegetarian Skillet Enchiladas are PWWB community faves). (10 minutes active time)
- Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
- Calories: 297
- Sugar: 7.4g
- Sodium: 205.2mg
- Fat: 11.9g
- Saturated Fat: 2.4g
- Unsaturated Fat: 8.8g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 32.2g
- Fiber: 5g
- Protein: 21g
- Cholesterol: 52.5mg
Keywords: golden chicken soup, turmeric chicken noodle soup, healthy, winter, easy soup recipe
Recipe & Step-by-Step Photography by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Beauty Photography by KJ & Company, Kate Poskochil