Green Chicken Soup

Cozy up with a hearty and healthy bowl of Vivian Howard’s collard green soup.
  • Makes: 3 quarts


  • 1 whole chicken (2 1⁄2-3 1⁄2 pounds)
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and split 10 garlic cloves
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 2  teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3  bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion, about 2 small onions
  • 1 cup diced celery or 2 large stalks
  • 1 cup diced carrots or 2 medium
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 5 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds or about 3 square inches
  • 1 pound collards, large stems removed, leaves cut into 1 inch squares
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper (or about 10 turns of the pepper mill)
  • Pesto for garnish, optional


  1. Rinse the chicken and place it breast side up in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic, herbs, chili flakes, bay leaves and water. Cover and bring it up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour or until the chicken is, as my mother would say, “falling to pieces.” Let the chicken cool in the broth for 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a rimmed plate. Pluck out the herbs, bay leaves and onion, but feel free to leave the garlic, and pour the broth into a bowl.
  2. Wipe the same Dutch oven dry and add the olive oil. Over medium heat, sweat the onion, celery and carrot with 1 teaspoon salt for 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes and Parm rinds to the pot. Cover and bring it up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pick the meat off the chicken and get the collards ready. You want these collards spoon-friendly so make sure you cut them into squares, not ribbons.
  3. After 20 minutes, add the chicken, collards, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar and the black pepper. Cook for 20 minutes more.
  4. Serve warm as is or with a dollop of pesto.