Chicken Soup Around the World

The Jewish staple can be found in many different communities.

Food writer and former New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton could not have chosen a more apt title for her 1995 cookbook, “The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup.” She’s right. From Mexico’s chili-spiked sopa de Fideos, to China’s gingery QiguoJi, it seems that an affinity for chicken in a pot transcends borders . Still, while no single culture can claim it as exclusively its own, Jews and their goldene yoich (golden broth) maintain a particularly close relationship.
Chicken Soup
A bowl of hot, fragrant broth ladled over softened carrots and chewy egg noodles or matzah balls is a staple on traditional Shabbat tables. Imagining Passover or Rosh Hashanah without the clink of spoons against the rim of steaming bowls of chicken soup is a bleak thought, indeed. Adding to its mythical appeal, chicken soup is renowned as something of a cure-all. Sometimes dubbed “Jewish Penicillin,” it is administered whenever colds, heartbreaks, or any other physical or emotional ailments strike.

The 12th-century Jewish physician, Maimonides, started the chicken soup-as-medicine trend when, in his book, On the Cause of Symptoms, he recommended the broth of hens and other fowl to “neutralize body constitution.” According to Maimonides, boiled chicken soup also played a role in curing leprosy and asthma, and–as a Jewish grandmother might put it–“putting some meat on your bones.”

In Jewish Food: The World at Table, Matthew Goodman reports on a 1978 study conducted at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach that confirmed at least part of Maimonides’ prescription: “chicken soup proved more effective than simple hot or cold water in clearing congested nasal passages.”

Jews across the world have conjured up their own iterations of the world’s most iconic soup. Iraqi Jews love their creamy rice-filled Shorba Bi Djaj and Indian Jews are partial to turmeric-scented Marag. But the Eastern European version of water simmered with chicken bones is, hands-down, the most recognized of the bunch.

Chicken Soup Recipe

Vegetarian Chicken Soup Recipe

Discover More

The Most Outrageous Matzah Ball Soup Recipe

With rice, noodles AND matza balls, this soup is a carb fest -- and it's glorious.

5 Chicken Soup Crockpot Recipes

Forget slaving over a hot stove and set your slow cooker for one of these delicious recipes.

Chicken Soup with Quinoa, Leeks and Albóndigas

In the chill of January and February, comfort foods are more than just a welcome respite on the table. For ...

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Rosh Hashanah

Impress your friends and family with these little-known facts about the Jewish New Year.

Rosh Hashanah 101

The Jewish New Year is a time of rejoicing and serious introspection.

Tisha B’Av FAQ

Your questions about the Jewish day of mourning answered.

Yom Kippur 2020

Yom Kippur begins at sunset on Sunday, September 27 and ends at sundown on Monday, September 28, 2020.

Where to Stream Rosh Hashanah Services for Free

Where to find a free online service for the Jewish new year.