We Made the Pioneer Woman Chicken Soup Using This Unique Shortcut

Nothing hits the spot on cold days like homemade chicken soup. We tried the Pioneer Woman chicken soup recipe from Ree Drummond, using a new-to-us chicken method.

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Ree Drummond is known as The Pioneer Woman. We also think of her as the queen of comfort food, thanks to her rich recipes for dishes like cheesy million dollar dip, sweet pumpkin cheesecake bars and buttery mashed potatoes.

On chilly days and sick days, a bowl of homemade chicken soup is especially comforting, so we decided to put the Pioneer Woman chicken soup to the test. The soup is full of chopped carrots, onions and parsnips—and one ingredient we weren’t expecting: a whole chicken!

No prep needed: just throw a whole chicken into the pot and simmer it into chicken soup. We just had to know, does this technique make a superior chicken soup?

The Pioneer Woman Chicken Soup Recipe

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Ree Drummond’s recipe makes a large pot of soup that serves 12. It doesn’t specify a size for the whole chicken, so we went with a 5-pound bird.


  • 1 whole chicken (about 5 pounds)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 whole parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 64 ounces chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper


Step 1: Add everything to the pot

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Discard the giblets from the chicken. Place the bird in a three-quart stock pot or Dutch oven. Fit the chopped onion, carrots and parsnips around the chicken. Add the bay leaf, chicken stock and salt.

Step 2: Cover and simmer

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Bring the stock to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer everything for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until the chicken is completely cooked through.

Step 3: Remove the meat from the bones

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Carefully remove the chicken from the soup and transfer it to a large cutting board. When it’s cool enough to handle, pull or slice the meat from the bones. Shred the chicken into small pieces, then add back to the soup pot.

Step 4: Adjust the seasonings and serve

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Remove the bay leaf. Stir the chopped or shredded chicken through the soup along with a pinch of ground pepper. Give it a taste: Add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it, then serve the soup while hot.

Here’s What I Thought

What’s nice about this soup is that once the veggies are chopped, it’s very hands-off. Just put everything in the pot and simmer away. As for the taste, the broth had a nice chicken flavor and the meat was very tender. However, that long simmer time left the carrots and parsnips very soft and without much flavor.

The soup tastes like a very basic chicken soup. For more dimension, you can add your choice of spices or spice blends to bump up that flavor: an Italian herb blend, some rubbed sage or a pinch of curry powder.

So the big question here: Is using a whole chicken worth it? Not having to prep the chicken at all is certainly convenient, and whole chickens often cost less per pound than packaged, boneless pieces. The only trade-off is having to pull all the meat off the bones afterward. Also, be careful lifting the chicken from the soup because it may start to fall apart. If this happens, check the soup carefully for any small bones that may have fallen in.

Tips for the Chicken Soup

When to Add the Veggies

For carrots and parsnips that still have flavor, wait to add them until about 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

How to Store Chicken Soup

Refrigerate leftovers in a covered container. The soup will be very thick, almost gelled, after chilling. You can add a splash of water or chicken stock to loosen it up.

Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a Taste of Home Community Cook and a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.