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11 Jan

Kombu Ginger Chicken Soup

Kombu Chicken SoupA warm bowl of chicken soup is thought to cure whatever ails you, in body and spirit. Add fresh ginger root and a kombu leaf to the pot, and the soup is even more nourishing.

Ginger warms the body, potentially giving your immune system a kick-start during cold and flu season. It also has a tradition of calming gastrointestinal distress. While ginger lets itself be known in this soup with its subtle but spicy flavor, kombu is a stealth ingredient. This dried sea vegetable enhances the flavor of broth and leaves behind a wealth of minerals without adding a “seaweedy” flavor.

Dried Kombu

A strip of kombu can be added to any of your favorite soups (or homemade stock) to make the broth mineral-rich. Add kombu at the end of the simmering process, as it doesn’t take long to extract its nutrients. Once simmered, kombu can be thinly sliced and added back to the soup or tossed into a salad.

Cooked Kombu

Aside from this recipe, a very simple kombu broth can be made by simmering a 4-inch strip of kombu in 4 cups of water for 4 minutes. A strip of dried kombu can also be dry-roasted in a pan for 5 to 7 minutes then ground into powder. Mix the powder with salt and use it to flavor just about anything.

Kombu keeps well in a sealed bag and is a fantastic ingredient to stash in the pantry. It’s easy to cook with, doesn’t have a strong flavor and adds important micronutrients. What’s not to like?

Servings: 8

Time in the Kitchen: 15 minutes active cooking, plus 2 1/2 hours to simmer


  • 1 onion, sliced or chopped
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 8 ounces (227 g) fresh ginger, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch thick chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • A pinch of black peppercorns
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 7 pieces and seasoned with salt
  • One 5 or 6 –inch piece of kombu
  • Optional vegetables: shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, carrots, spinach


Combine the onion, carrots, celery, ginger, garlic and peppercorns in a large, deep heavy pot. Add chicken, placing breasts on top. Cover with about 5 quarts of water. Add a generous pinch of salt.

Step 1

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and simmer until the chicken breasts are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken breasts from the pot. Cut the meat off the bone and return the bones to the soup pot. Set the meat aside to cool, saving it for another meal.

Continue to simmer the soup, uncovered, until the broth is fully flavored, about 2 hours longer. Add salt if needed.

After 2 hours, add the kombu. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Use tongs to remove the kombu and chicken from the broth. Set aside.

Pour the broth through a colander set over a pot to strain the rest of the solids out of the broth, discarding the solids (you should have about 8 cups broth).

Bring the broth back to a gentle simmer. Shred the chicken, adding as much as you like back to the pot.

Thinly slice the kombu and add it back to the pot. Add any other veggies you desire (sliced carrots, sliced bok choy or spinach, shitake mushrooms, etc..) Simmer just until veggies are cooked.

Step 2

Add salt and pepper to taste. For additional flavor, add a drizzle of sesame oil.

Kombu Chicken Soup

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Where can we buy kombu? Is it a common enough ingredient in health food stores, or are we going to have to search for it?

    hisaysty wrote on January 11th, 2014
    • I happened to get it at Whole Foods last week.

      Mike wrote on January 11th, 2014
    • I bought mine online at Mountain Rose Herbs.

      Magda wrote on January 11th, 2014
    • Both amazon and iHerb have it online.

      PrimalGrandma wrote on January 11th, 2014
    • You can get large bags of it for much cheaper than natural grocers at Asian markets.

      Shebeeste wrote on January 11th, 2014
      • P.S. You may have to ask what kind of seaweed it is if the label isn’t in English. It might just be generic kelp (click through the link in the post for the difference), not specifically kombu. I put it in my bone broth so I’m not picky if it’s actual kombu, I’m not sure I would notice the difference anyway.

        Shebeeste wrote on January 11th, 2014
    • Look for Maine Coast Sea Vegetables at Whole Foods, if you are lucky enough to have one nearby. They offer a nice resealable package of whole leaf Khombu.

      Algebra Grok wrote on January 11th, 2014
    • I get it in an asian grocery store

      salixisme wrote on January 14th, 2014
  2. Mmmmm. Asian “penicillin.” (From chicken soup being Jewish “penicillin.”)

    Harry Mossman wrote on January 11th, 2014
  3. Or if you are feeling adventurous and live near clean beaches, go pick some yourself. There are many varieties of sea vegetables that grow on the rocks that are revealed at low tide.

    Rema wrote on January 11th, 2014
  4. To make really flavorful chicken broth use 8 chicken thighs instead of the whole bird

    betsy wrote on January 11th, 2014
  5. Wonder why the breast meat isn’t used? I like the idea of adding some other asian veggies (Bok Choy, and shitake mushrooms) to this.

    Joe wrote on January 11th, 2014
  6. Hey Mark where did you get that amazing oversized round chair that you are sitting in on the sites banner? You have an amazing site. Thank you for helping so many people, myself included. Take Care,

    Kathy Brown wrote on January 11th, 2014
  7. Definitely need to start making more stocks and soups. They seem so simple and nutrient rich but I never think to do it.

    BFBVince wrote on January 11th, 2014
  8. I have a cold and was literally just lying in bed thinking about homemade chicken soup and that I should try it in the classic Japanese one pot base, Dashi (which includes kombu) and 15 minutes later read this: viola! I am also drinking ginger tea at the moment which makes this even more spooky. Thanks!

    Juli wrote on January 12th, 2014
  9. I’m so happy to read this. My teacher in a cooking class was handing out some leftover food and I came home with two GIANT, ENORMOUS bags of kelp. I’m going to make this this week. Thanks Mark!

    Grace wrote on January 12th, 2014
  10. Mmm. We’ve been craving soup lately, so this recipe is pretty timely!

    Camille wrote on January 12th, 2014
  11. I have a package of unopened kombu that I found in the back of my pantry. Who knows how long its been there…anyone have an idea if its still good or not? No expiration date.

    Sara wrote on January 13th, 2014
    • If it has been kept dry it won’t go bad but it can lose its flavor over time. It would be fine in soup, I imagine you will still get all the minerals, they probably don’t go anywhere! tl;dr: eat it–can’t hurt, might help.

      Shebeeste wrote on January 13th, 2014
  12. This looks absolutely WONDERFUL! thank you so much for the recipe. :)

    Lyndsey wrote on January 14th, 2014
  13. I am thinking that this would make a good use of some of the leftover turkey I have in the freezer….

    salixisme wrote on January 14th, 2014
  14. It took me 8 minutes in the pressure cooker. Wonderful taste! thanks for this tasty recipe Mark.

    carlos wrote on January 14th, 2014
  15. Nice post

    Tom wrote on January 15th, 2014
  16. 8 oz of ginger seems like a whole lotta ginger!

    Darcie wrote on January 26th, 2014
  17. am making this now. either my scale is off or your idea of 8 oz is much smaller than my idea. still, it smells delicious and I can’t wait to eat it.

    anne wrote on March 11th, 2014
  18. Made this last night for dinner, and it was delicious!! Definitely worth the time and effort.

    Erin wrote on August 4th, 2014

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