Old Hen's Chicken Soup (老母鸡汤)

November 7th, 2021

Prep: 5 minutes

Cooking: 2 hours (3+ hours if using old/stew hens!)

Serves 4

Probably the most simple chicken soup recipe you'll ever find. This is a recipe from my home province of Anhui, where they traditionally use older hens to make this soup (because hens tend to have more fat and hence more flavor in their soup). In some version they'll like to add some spices (like slices of ginger), but the way we make it in the Tao family is we don't like to add anything at all.

In this recipe, I've optionally turned the chicken soup into a noodle soup dish by adding some veggies and plain noodles.

This warms my SOUL


1. Put your chicken in the stock pot and fill the pot with water until just covering the chicken. You can add more water if you want, it'll just dilute the chicken soup a bit.

2. Turn your stove to high and bring the pot of watery chicken to a boil. Once it starts boiling turn down the heat to a simmer. At this point you'll start to see some scum float to the surface - skim that off with a big spoon or a fine mesh sieve if you have one. Keep the lid on otherwise.

3. Keep simmering covered for around 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the soup is flavorful enough and the chicken is easy to break apart with a utencil. NOTE: If you managed to find old hen (or stew hen as they're called in western countries), you need to simmer the chicken for longer, around 3+ hours or until the meat becomes tender.

3.5. (OPTIONAL) Strip your chicken of its meat (ie. Take off the legs and breasts) and take the meat out of the simmering stock. This is so that your chicken doesn't overcook and become mushy, but is purely optional.

4. Continue simmering for another 30 minutes. Your chicken soup should taste rich and thick from all the collagen that's come off the chicken. Serve as hot as possible! Salt individual servings of the soup to each person's preference.

4.5. (OPTIONAL) To make this a meal, I like to take a portion of the chicken soup and chicken meat and cook some soup vegetables (napa cabbage is my favorite for this) and noodles in the soup for around 5ish minutes. Be sure to salt your soup before adding in your noodles and vegetables to cook.

Yup - the entire recipe is just essentially boiling a chicken. Tastes amazing!
  • High quality whole chicken - 1x chicken. I say high quality here because a big part of what makes this soup amazing is the quality of the chicken. Try and go organic/free range and try to find chicken with head/neck and feet still attached (I live in white people land so this is a bit harder to find).
  • Water - enough to cover the chicken in your pot.
  • Salt - to taste!
  • (Optional, for noodle soup) Noodles - 75g per person.
  • (Optional, for noodle soup) Soup vegetables (I prefer Napa cabbage for its sweetness) - 150g per person.
  • A big stock pot with a lid
  • Spoon
  • Stove