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JESSICA KARLEY: Peppy, zesty soups

Ginger Chili Chicken Soup can help you to breathe a little easier during cold and flu season. (Photo by Accent contributor Jessica Karley) 2 / 4
Southwest Chicken Soup is packed with flavor and phytonutrients to help keep your taste buds and immune system happy! (Photo by Accent contributor Jessica Karley)3 / 4
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A few weeks ago, I fell victim to a cold and was looking around my pantry for something soup-like. I came across a few different chicken options, but none of them seemed like quite the right fix. I wanted something I could actually taste and something that had a little bit of a zip to help me breathe easier or maybe even put some pep back into my step.

When I’m not feeling well, I always look to use chili peppers, garlic or ginger to help give my immune system an extra boost. My Ginger Chili Chicken and Rice Soup or Southwest Chicken Soup are both great options with those ingredients, and they’re just plain delicious. Once you’re on the mend, don’t be surprised if you’re whipping up another batch!

The Ginger Chili Chicken and Rice Soup brings a little bit of an Asian theme to your soup bowl. You’ll fill your house with the deliciously light aroma of fresh garlic, ginger and jalapeno sauteing in olive oil. All of that chopping and mincing might sound like a lot of work, but there are now convenience tubes of garlic and ginger in the fresh herbs section of the grocery store as well as jars of chili paste in the ethnic foods section.

You’ll add another layer of flavors by adding Sriracha sauce, soy sauce, premade chicken stock and brown rice to the pot. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 35 minutes or until the rice is tender and almost cooked through.

The chopped rotisserie chicken, lemon juice, fresh red bell pepper and bias chopped green onion are added for the last five minutes of cooking. When the soup is finished, garnish it with fresh chopped cilantro and lemon zest. The taste is the perfect balance of savory from the garlic, sweet, stomach-soothing ginger and a very mild, good-for-the-sinuses heat at the end.

If you think you’re in the mood for something with a little Tex-Mex flare, then my Southwest Chicken Soup might be the perfect cure for what ails you.

It’s along the lines of the cheesy restaurant tortilla soup we love up north, but instead is made from a chicken and green chili broth. The base for this is simple and is made with only two ingredients: chicken stock and salsa verde. This is a green (verde in Spanish) salsa that is made from tomatillos, chili pepper, onions and cilantro. It can now be found in most ethnic sections of the grocery store or near the tortilla chips.

To the broth and salsa mixture, add frozen corn, black beans and shredded rotisserie chicken. The delicious soup simmers for 20 minutes, so the flavors can come together. Serve it piping hot with a fresh lime wedge, a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and fresh chopped cilantro.

Ginger Chili Chicken and Rice Soup

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

52 ounces of chicken stock

1 cup of water

1¼ cups brown rice

2 cups diced rotisserie chicken

Juice from 1 lemon (save zest for garish before juicing)

1 bell pepper, cut into thin strips or julienne

2 green onions, cut on the diagonal


¼ cup chopped cilantro, fresh

Zest from 1 lemon

In a large soup kettle, combine coconut oil, jalapeno, garlic and ginger. Cook over medium heat until fragrant and cooked through (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add Sriracha sauce, soy sauce and kosher salt. Cook for an additional minute. Add chicken stock, water and brown rice. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium/low and let simmer for 35 minutes or until rice is almost cooked through. Add lemon juice, chicken, red bell pepper and green onions. Let simmer for 5 minutes FOR GARNISH: Combine cilantro and lemon zest in a small bowl. Sprinkle over top of prepared soup.

Southwest Chicken Soup

32 ounces of chicken stock

16 ounces of salsa verde

3½ cups diced rotisserie

1 cups frozen corn

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed well

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper


1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Chopped cilantro

Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Tortilla chips

In medium sauce pot, combine all ingredients (except for garnishes). Over high heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro, yogurt and tortilla chips. 

Karley can be reached at Read her food blog at