Jennifer Garner Uses 2 Secret Ingredients to Make Her Famous ‘Leftover Chicken Soup’

I made this Insta-famous Jennifer Garner chicken soup. It's a light and bright version of the comfort food classic.

In her popular Instagram series #PretendCookingShow, Jennifer Garner shares her go-to way to repurpose leftover chicken: soup! She uses two secret ingredients to really make her recipe sing: vinegar and honey.

I decided to give the popular Jennifer Garner chicken soup recipe a try—and see if her secret ingredients made classic chicken soup even better.

How to Make Jennifer Garner’s ‘Leftover Chicken Soup’

Toh Horizontal Leftover Chicken Soup Gettyimages 544522986 Kristina Vanni For Taste Of Home JveditKristina Vanni for Taste of Home, Getty Images

While making soup is typically a quick and easy dinner, there are a few soup mistakes to avoid. A big one is the vegetables. Chop your vegetables first thing. They will then be prepped and ready to brown, which will produce more flavor than simply dumping everything into a pot at the same time. Once those aromatics are cooked, you can start the rest of the steps.


Leftover Chicken Soup IngredientsKristina Vanni for Taste of Home

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic or champagne vinegar
  • Leftover chicken (about 4 cups shredded chicken)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 boxes (32 ounces) chicken stock


Step 1: Cook vegetables and herbs

Leftover Chicken Soup Step 1Kristina Vanni for Taste of Home

In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until softened. Add the carrots and celery, and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. A

dd the dried thyme and oregano, rubbing the herbs between your hands to break apart. Stir to combine, then add the red pepper flakes.

Step 2: Add the vinegar and chicken

Leftover Chicken Soup Step 2Kristina Vanni for Taste of Home

This is the first secret ingredient! Add the white balsamic or champagne vinegar to the center of the mixture and stir. Then, stir in the shredded chicken.

Step 3: Add the honey

Leftover Chicken Soup Step 3 add honeyKristina Vanni for Taste of Home

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Make a well in the middle of the Dutch oven by pushing all chicken and veggies to the sides. Pour your honey-lemon mixture into the center of the well. Allow to bubble, then stir for a minute and let reduce.

Step 4: Simmer the soup and serve

Leftover Chicken Soup Step 4Kristina Vanni for Taste of Home

Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer until ready to serve. If you like brown rice or noodles, cook as directed, separately, and add to each bowl as they are ladled out.

Here’s What I Thought

Leftover Chicken Soup Hero 1 Jvedit Kristina Vanni For Taste Of HomeKristina Vanni for Taste of Home

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of the secret ingredients in this Jennifer Garner chicken soup. But as it turns out, adding a splash of vinegar and a spoonful of honey is a great twist! Along with the pinch of red pepper flakes, her soup has the perfect balance of salt, acid, sweet and heat.

Since the soup had a sunny California vibe, I took Jennifer’s recommendation and cooked some healthy brown rice to add to the soup just before serving. I liked how this added another texture and flavor dimension to the soup as well. This Jennifer Garner chicken soup is definitely something I’ll make again, maybe with leftover turkey during the holidays.

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Kristina Vänni
Internationally recognized culinary authority Kristina is a food writer, TV host, recipe developer and food stylist. In addition to writing for Taste of Home, Better Homes & Gardens and The Kitchn, she is a frequent featured expert on national media outlets and has served as a spokesperson and recipe developer for numerous national brands including Finlandia, KitchenAid and Post Foods. Kristina is currently writing her first cookbook, an exploration of the traditional and seasonal cuisine from her family's dairy farm in Finland.