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

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27 thoughts on “Kombu Ginger Chicken Soup”

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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?

    1. You can get large bags of it for much cheaper than natural grocers at Asian markets.

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. To make really flavorful chicken broth use 8 chicken thighs instead of the whole bird

  4. 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.

  5. 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,

  6. Definitely need to start making more stocks and soups. They seem so simple and nutrient rich but I never think to do it.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

  10. This looks absolutely WONDERFUL! thank you so much for the recipe. 🙂

  11. It took me 8 minutes in the pressure cooker. Wonderful taste! thanks for this tasty recipe Mark.

  12. 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.

  13. Made this last night for dinner, and it was delicious!! Definitely worth the time and effort.