Sankofa Garden Homes: Collard Greens Chicken Soup for the soul

Sankofa Garden Homes
Sankofa Garden Homes

Sankofa Education Services

It has been said, “There is nothing new under the sun,” particularly if you Google it today. While all my articles have been about Sankofa Garden Homes outdoors, this month my mind turned to what to do with the harvest – for which I am thankful – that I’ll pick during this season of the year when I spend more time indoors.

As we begin to experience wetter and cooler weather, many of us contract a cold or the flu that comes with the season. After the heavy rains we recently had, I experienced coughing and chest congestion.

While it was not a cold or the flu, I began to feel uncomfortable, so I turned to my mother’s cold remedy: Vicks VapoRub under heavy handmade quilts to sweat my congestion out and my maternal grandmother’s old standby chicken soup.

After I began to prepare the chicken soup the way I learned from grandmother, I suddenly wondered how chicken soup would taste with the collard greens I raised, rather than the mixed vegetables I always bought at the store – unlike grandmother’s mixed vegetables, which she raised in her garden in the front of her house.

So I picked some fresh collard greens from my Sankofa Garden in my front yard and chopped them up.

I then proceeded to gather other ingredients to add to my chopped, organic collard greens, leaves and stems. Because my collards are very tender, it takes no more than an hour and a half for the soup to cook. Below is the recipe.

Collard Greens Chicken Soup


Chopped up skinless chicken thighs and legs (keeping bones in for flavor)

Purple onion

Red bell pepper


Organic rosemary (raised in my garden)

Sea salt

Soul Food Seasoning (use when served to taste)

Black pepper


Ground paprika

Louisiana Hot Sauce (use when served to taste)

Traditionally as African Americans, we have cooked collard greens in a large pot of water, usually with a ham hock, until the greens were tender and the ham hock was done. We would then eat the greens and ham hock with canned yams and cornbread, often leaving the collard green juice in the pot.

This juice is known as “pot liquor.” I have seen pot liquor thrown out time and time again in recent years, not realizing that this is where many of the nutrients are.

Many of our “Africans Who Built America” ancestors used to take the pot liquor in a bowl and crumble cornbread and eat it together. They would sometimes feed this mush of cornbread and pot liquor to babies.

Today, we do not see these traditions very often.

I began to wonder, how much healthier would my chicken soup be if I put in organic collard greens? Collard greens that would make pot liquor mixed with chicken broth and other herbs and spices, but no ham hock. A healthier alternative.

Whole Foods has stated that “collard greens are the new kale.” Many African American have eaten collard greens for many years. While eating them, we have not known all the nutritional value they possess.

Whole Foods states that “one-half cup cooked collards equal as much fiber as 1 cup of brown rice, high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate. About as much calcium as 4 oz. of Greek yogurt. Low in calories, fat, sugars, sodium.”

With this knowledge, it only leads one to conclude that chicken soup and collard greens together would make a powerful “super green soup.”

To make my Collard Green Chicken Soup, I heated water in a medium pot. I then placed the chopped chicken thighs in and allowed them to cook about 10 minutes. I then put in chopped up collard greens followed by chopped purple onions, chopped red bell pepper, garlic and rosemary. As the soup cooked, I sprinkled in curry powder, ground paprika, sea salt and pepper to taste. Season with Louisiana Hot Sauce and Soul Food Seasoning when served to taste. The pot liquor that we would normally throw out has now become a healthy soup to enjoy.

The number of people you are cooking for will determine how much soup you should make. You may want to do as I’ve done and make a large pot and freeze some for later, particularly as the weather gets colder

After eating my Collard Green Chicken Soup with crackers, I was pleasantly surprised by the texture and taste. I was even more elated over the fact that I knew I was eating a soup that was good for me, and one that I knew what was in it. Low in sodium and high in healthy nutrients like my grandmother’s chicken soup.

As I stated earlier, it has been said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” While I call my soup “Collard Green Chicken Soup” and make it my unique way, when you Google “collard green chicken soup” you will find several different chicken soup and collard green recipes.

For example, you will find Carla F. Williams’ “African Chicken and Collard Greens” and Kalyn Denny’s “Chicken Soup with Collard Greens, Carrots and Brown Rice” recipes.

As you think about making your soup, you can make it your own unique way as I have and add to the growing number of people who are finding this unique way of cooking collard greens.

I am certain that it will add to your wintertime menu and make great memories as you prepare to serve family and friends during the holiday season.

Like a good pot of gumbo – African word for okra – my Collard Green Chicken Soup will warm the hands and hearts of all who eat it.

I know, because it has already warmed mine.

Until next month, be thankful and be healthy!

Sankofa Education Services is provided by Clarence Glover, known as Professor Freedom, for the purpose of “taking the chains off our brains, so our minds can work.” He can be reached at


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