chicken quinoa soup

In Ancient Map for Modern Birth, Pam England writes of the importance of “Nourishing the Life Within” with tasty, satisfying, and nutritious food. In this series of posts, we tap chefs, nutritionists, postpartum doulas, and other kitchenistas for their favorite ideas for: pregnant and postpartum parents…sleep deprived doulas, midwives, and nurses…and anyone whose inner spirit is in need of the emotional and physical boost that a delicious home-cooked meal provides.* 

We have the great privilege of beginning this series with New York City chef John Gibson. John was the executive chef of the late, and greatly lamented, Stonehome Wine Bar in Brooklyn, and currently works as a personal chef for private clients. He’s also dad to a second grader and husband to a veteran public school teacher, so he’s no stranger to busy, tired families in need of nourishment.

Today, John brings us Chicken Quinoa Soup with Greens, Coconut, Turmeric, and Ginger. The dish hits on ingredients that are simultaneously classic comfort foods and big players in current nutritional trends. John says, “I love this recipe for its many benefits. It has the lean protein, the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, and ginger to soothe the belly. Also, like many soup recipes, it has the benefit of versatility.  Feel free to swap in another protein or leave it out altogether if none is on hand, and substitute veggies with whatever is convenient or happens to catch your eye at the market.” Bonus: both the broth and the finished soup can be frozen, making it perfect for big batches and advance meal prep.

Chicken Quinoa Soup with Greens, Coconut, Turmeric, and Ginger

Simple Basic Chicken Bone Broth

Often broth recipes call for aromatics and seasonings – which is great if you’re making it for a single specific use.  However, I sometimes like to stock my freezer with a simple broth that can be utilized for myriad dishes.  This basic broth doesn’t have seasonings that will fight with other flavors in dishes such as the soup recipe that follows. It will also be able to pick up the slack on a simple pot of beans or lentils, and free the cook up to add whatever spices, herbs, and flavors they want.

yields 3-4 quarts

2.5-3 pounds chicken bones, preferably from an organic chicken; if going to a butcher, ask for some chicken feet too, as this gives the broth some added body

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Water just to cover bones

Add all ingredients to an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker.  (If no Instant Pot is handy, add all ingredients to a large pot and simmer gently for 8 hours, skimming away any foam that floats to surface.) Follow manufacturer’s instructions to set the Instant Pot to 4 hours of pressure cooking.  After the cooking time, allow the pressure to release naturally. The bones should break or crumble with some pressure from kitchen tongs; if not, cook for an additional 30 minutes.  Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer, discard bones. Can be used right away or stored in fridge or freezer – up to 5 days in the fridge, up to 4 months in the freezer. (Skim any solidified fat that forms at top after cooling.) 

Chicken Quinoa Soup

yields 2 quarts; serves 4 as a main dish

1-1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes, about 2 large or 3 medium sized breasts

8 oz. package of cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced

2 medium sized carrots, peeled, sliced into ½ inch pieces

3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

4 cups chicken broth

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

1 cup uncooked quinoa (be sure to rinse quinoa first if variety has not been marked as pre-rinsed)

½ pound leafy greens such as spinach, swiss chard or kale, washed and roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste (be sure to season in pinches throughout cooking process)

2-3 tablespoons neutral flavored cooking oil, such as grapeseed or canola

Lime wedges and fresh chopped cilantro for serving

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and lightly brown chicken pieces. When chicken is browned, remove from pot and set aside.
  2. Add sliced carrots and minced ginger. Saute a minute or two to soften a bit, then add sliced mushrooms and ground spices.  Cook spices until toasted and fragrant but be careful not to burn, about 1 minute.
  3. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, and dried quinoa. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Then add reserved chicken pieces and cook 6 minutes more. Finally, add the leafy greens and cook an additional 4 minutes.
  4. At this time the greens should be wilted and the quinoa fully cooked. Can be served right away or stored in fridge or freezer – up to 5 days in the fridge, up to 2 months in the freezer. When ready to eat, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve with lime wedges and fresh chopped cilantro.

Chef John Gibson with his son

About John Gibson

I began my kitchen career as a dishwasher in a traditional New England seafood restaurant in Connecticut. As I moved up the ranks, it was the discovery of new ingredients and foods I hadn’t ever tasted that ignited my passion for cooking. That passion led to my move to NYC and culinary training at The Institute of Culinary Education. I then headed the kitchens first at Lucy’s Cafe in Long Island, and then for 9 years at Stonehome Wine Bar in Brooklyn, gathering rave reviews and many fans along the way. With many years of restaurant experience and classical training, I offer my personal clients the same cooking experience I provided my restaurant customers for years. That is to say: well sourced food, prepared honestly and expertly, to both satisfy and impress. From the humble turnip to the wild delicacies of the sea, or whatever your taste may be. Cheers!





* Statements in our recipe and nutrition posts may be unevaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please consult your medical caregiver about specific health conditions and concerns.

About the Birthing from Within Team

Birthing From Within is blessed to have a team of bloggers that includes childbirth educators, doulas, and birth story listeners who, in addition to being deep thinkers and skilled writers, are dedicated to the amplification of the BFW mission and philosophy. Birthing From Within is a collective creation, always evolving to reflect the new layers of understanding and unique approaches to the childbirth experience. Our goal is to change the conversation about birth in our culture, and to uphold the possibility of growth and transformation for birth professionals and birthing people.

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