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gingery kelp & chicken soup

The kelp farm has been seeded here at Nautical Farms and the temps have officially dropped below freezing each night here in Maine. Family members are starting to get the sniffles, and the heat never turns off in the house. This calls for one thing: ginger kelp & chicken soup!

This chicken soup recipe by Chef Eva of our Spoondrift Kitchen utilizes the oceanic salty flavors of sugar kelp, along with a myriad of fresh or frozen ingredients you might already have in your fridge or freezer- carrots, celery, onions, shallots, garlic. Kelp, a native Maine sea vegetable is an incredibly nutrient dense superfood, boasting an array of 20 different vitamins and minerals: iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, magnesium, and iodine in addition to soluble fiber, protein-building amino acids, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Bone broth, especially chicken bone broth, contains protein, collagen, and glycine (for metabolism), along with many other naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that exist in sustainably-raised animal protein. Combining sea kelp and chicken together makes a flavor rich broth packed to the brim with things that help our body stay healthy through the long winter months.

To top off the excitement, this soup is so easy to make and is gluten and dairy free. Just throw a few ingredients in a pot, let it boil for at least an hour (even better overnight if you can), and you’ve got yourself a fabulous soup for dinner or an easy freezer-friendly meal for later.

The best part of this recipe is that it doesn’t require measuring or too much planning. Feel free to adapt the recipe below to whatever you have on hand!

gingery kelp & chicken soup

Makes: 4 quarts

you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs bone-in chicken. (This can be in the form of thighs, breast, legs, or a whole bird. I used a half spatchcock which included the wing, leg, and breast. Keep skin for extra flavor if it's already there.)
  • 1 bag of Nautical Farms Whole Leaf Sugar Kelp
  • 4-8 inches fresh ginger root
  • 2-4 carrots sliced
  • 4 fresh jalapeno slices de-seeded
  • 4-8 garlic cloves (can be crushed with skins on)
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 heaping tsp coriander seed
  • 1 heaping tsp whole green peppercorn
  • 4 qts water, or enough water to cover everything in the pot
  • Garnish for serving: scallion, lime, and shredded cabbage
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional broth add-ins: whole or dried mushrooms (including the stem), onion, celery, fennel
  • Optional soup add-ins at the end: 1 cup cooked rice or rice noodles, diced firm tofu, sliced mushrooms


Slice ginger root into roughly 1 ⁄ 2 inch pieces. You can leave the skin on.

Chop scallions, shred cabbage and slice lime and then set aside. 

Place the whole chicken, kelp, ginger, carrots, jalapeno, garlic, star anise, coriander seeds, and green peppercorn in a pot with a fitted lid. Cover it with 4 qt of water, or enough water to cover and fully submerge everything.

Bring everything to a boil, lower the heat so the broth is simmering for at least an hour. If you can let it simmer on low heat for 4-6 hours or overnight, even better.

Once boiled, remove chicken and set aside on a cutting board to cool. Drain the broth into a new pot through a fine mesh strainer. Allow the broth to sit for at least 30 min, letting the fat rise to the top.

On the cutting board, pull all the chicken meat away, leaving only the skin, bones, and cartilage, which you can compost or dispose of at this point. It might be very hot to the touch, so use gloves or forks if need be. Either pull or slice chicken into smaller bite-size pieces. 

At this point, the fat in the broth should have risen to the top of the broth, making it easy to skim it off. Do not throw this fat away! This chicken fat can be used for other recipes like dumplings, fried potatoes, gravy, or in the place of butter.

Add the chicken meat back into broth and bring to a simmer. 

Add in your final garnishes: cooked rice or rice noodles, diced tofu, shredded cabbage, diced scallion, squeeze of lime, cilantro. Add salt to your liking. 

Spoon soup into bowls and serve or into the freeze for future meals.