Today’s high was 31 degrees. I live in the Southern U.S. so that is what we describe as cold, y’all. I started hating winter last year. I’m not a germaphobe, but seriously when your friends and their kiddos are dropping like flies to the plague you rethink your daily outings.

Winter means a lot more days snuggled on the couch with something in the crockpot or baking away in the oven. I love the cozy part of winter, but I hate the-walls-are-closing-in-on-me and my-toddler-is-bouncing-off-of-the-too-close-walls and the I-need-to-see-the-sun part of winter. It’s hard to welcome people around the table when opening the door means a cold blast of air in the face.

Baby, it’s cold outside.

The temptation can be to stay busy all winter and at the height of the school year there are papers to write, dance classes to attend, basketball games on Friday nights and any number of other commitments bulging our calendars.

We hear that the Smiths are down with the croup. We don’t see the Jones family for weeks because they are quarantined away with the flu. We keep up with our busyness and it’s easy to forgo hospitality- at least in the safe, traditional sense.

Depression is at its height during the dark days of winter. Hospitality is the practice of warming a soul from the inside out with the love of Jesus. 

Hospitality always sees hurting people.

But we’re too often too busy or too germaphobic or {insert your fear}-phobic to reach out.

A few months back I felt like everyone I knew was sick with something. There was an epidemic of the flu and a not-to-be-shrugged-at stomach bug on the loose. I could have handed out chicken soup by the ton, and I just about did.


I chopped, stirred and simmered pot after pot, dropping buckets of the stuff off on people’s porches. One gray afternoon as I stared into a boiling pot of soup I thought about how glad my heart was to offer up my little to those in need. I decided then and there that I was never going to be too busy to take someone chicken soup.

It’s become somewhat of a mantra in the months since. The more I mulled it over in my head the clearer the heart of the principle became to me. Being too busy to bring soup, for me, was the equivalent of being too busy to see someone in need and failing to meet that need.

Don’t get too caught up in the legalism of the mantra. You don’t have to stir a fresh pot on your home stove each time you want to make delivery. Find a restaurant or local grocery store and pick some up already made and waiting. Heck, pop a can of Campbell’s open and heat it up. The point is to live with eyes and heart open to need and to actively move to meet that need in a practical way.

I don’t know what your chicken soup is. Maybe it is knitting blankets for the elderly. Perhaps it is sending words to hurting hearts at just the right moment. Whatever it is make sure you leave margin in your life to do what gives you life and helps to pass that life along to others.

Here is the recipe for my chicken soup. It is meant to be a little spicy and has some ingredients (mainly a lot of garlic and apple cider vinegar) that are powerful tools in kicking the yuck to the curb. I’ve had more than one person call me the next day singing its praises. I freeze it and keep it on hand for my own family because I know its power.

Wellness Chicken Soup
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Prep Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
  1. 5-6 Cups Chicken Stock- Homemade is best and will have the most benefit. I like to get an already cooked rotisserie chicken and pick it clean and use the carcass for making stock.
  2. 1 whole chicken (picked clean if already cooked or you can just throw the whole think in the pot and boil till chicken is cooked.)
  3. 3 carrots peeled and sliced
  4. 2-3 stalks of celery diced
  5. 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  6. 2Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  7. 2-3 dashes of cayenne (should be spicy but you can adjust how spicy to taste)
  8. 1 bay leaf
  9. Salt and pepper to taste
  10. Olive oil
  1. Simmer garlic, carrots and celery 2-3 minutes in a large pot.
  2. Add chicken and stock.
  3. Add spices.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer until chicken is cooked (if not already) and carrots are cooked through.
  6. (Approximately 25-30 minutes.)
Grace Table
Jessica Hoover / Posts / Blog
Jessica Leigh Hoover is a wife, mama, writer and grace lover. She lives in the hills of North Carolina. Her greatest loves are Jesus, family, chocolate, {hot or iced and always sweet} tea, travel, vintage dresses, thrift stores, jam making and heaps of good conversation. She blogs about her belief that grace is the biggest kind of brave and how life is messy and beautiful in the living, losing and loving. Find her on facebook, twitter, and instagram for a bit more of the story.
  • Avatar
    Kris Camealy

    Thank you, Jessica for sharing this bit of loveliness here. i love the way you love your neighbors, and look forward to trying this recipe out sometime! Thanks so much for joining us here at the table. XO

    March 9th, 2015 17:33
    • Avatar
      Jessica Hoover

      Kris, really and truly so glad to pull up a seat here. I love the heart of this space. Excited to keep reading and taking part in the community.

      March 11th, 2015 19:58
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    layla bb solms

    Jessica, thank you for the recipe. But more than that, thank you for the encouragement and challenge to be intentional about reaching out to our neighbor (regardless of proximity) with some chicken soup, which is spreading God’s love in a tangible way. Something small, made with love, given in love, can be such a blessing. Thank you for saying it to us one more time, in this way.

    March 9th, 2015 18:14
    • Avatar
      Jessica Hoover

      Layla, it really can fill you in places you didn’t know were empty. So thankful for folks who have brought “chicken soup” to me.

      March 11th, 2015 19:57
  • Avatar
    Meredith Bernard

    Oh yes, Jessica, how I get the cold south ((we live in the same great North State…that’s in the south, so go figure)) and I’m fighting toddlers and tantrums and four small walls, too. Love how you identify that hospitality always sees the hurting. Such a great reminder for me…and the sun is shining today, so I’m tempted to forget so quick. And this soup? Yep, been looking for a for-real-chicken soup recipe that doesn’t come in a red and white can, so thank you dear! Glad to see you here and hope to cross real life paths one day…xo

    March 9th, 2015 22:02
    • Avatar
      Jessica Hoover

      Happy to share this recipe and YES to our real life paths crossing. That would be divine in so many ways.

      March 11th, 2015 19:57

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