A taste of home: Reminiscing with Turkish chicken noodle soup

It’s never easy being far away from home, but my mom’s cold remedy dish, chicken noodle soup, gives me a sense of comfort when I need it most.

Jennifer Ren and Wendy Li

Doga Usanmaz, Contributing Writer

Growing up in Istanbul, I never experienced a shortage of Turkish cuisine in my household. Thanks to my mom being an incredible cook, we ate Turkish dishes regularly, ranging from different types of kebabs, böreks, dolmas and mezes. After moving to New York City, I quickly sought out Turkish food and discovered a variety of restaurants around the city. While many were good, I found that they lacked the one dish I sought during times of sickness: Turkish chicken noodle soup, also known as şehriyeli tavuk çorbası. 

Although noodles don’t play a large role in Turkish cuisine as a whole, şehriye — a very small, thin noodle — can be found in a variety of dishes. Şehriye is one of the smallest noodles produced, and variations are commonly mixed with rice in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. 

When I was younger, my mom would make this chicken noodle soup whenever I was sick, just as my grandmother made it for her when she was a child. They believed that it was the remedy to all illnesses. Both the practice of making the soup and the soup itself are examples of the familial love and emphasis on caretaking that are so prevalent in Turkish culture. It is also an example of the faith that many Turkish people have in home remedies, believing that chicken broth will cure all colds and the flu, that bone broth will cure broken bones and that rakı — our national drink made of about 45% alcohol — will cure toothaches, throat infections and broken hearts.  

If you would like to try this particular version chicken noodle soup, here is my mom’s recipe:

Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Difficulty: Easy — combining the soup with the egg yolk mixture is the hardest part!

Servings: 3


1 onion

• 4 cups water

• 1 raw chicken breast

• 1 cup thin noodles (such as şehriye, vermicelli or orzo)

• 2 tablespoons lemon juice

• 1 egg yolk

• Salt and pepper to taste


1. Dice the onion into small pieces. Set aside.

2. Boil 4 cups of water in a stockpot to begin the broth.

3. Once the water is boiling, add the chicken breast to the water.

4. Boil the chicken for 15 minutes. 

5. After 15 minutes, remove the chicken from the pot and reduce the heat to low.

6. Sauté the diced onion in a separate pan over medium heat.

7. Using a fork or your hands, shred the chicken breast into small pieces.

8. Bring the chicken broth back to a boil.

9. Add the chicken and sauteed onion into the broth.

10. Add the noodles into the chicken broth and cook for 8 minutes.

11. While the noodles are cooking, separate the egg yolk from the egg white in a small bowl. Discard the egg white or save for later.

12. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into the egg yolk, and whisk to combine.

13. Gradually add 5 tablespoons of the chicken broth to the lemon juice and egg yolk mixture, and constantly stir until combined.

14. Add the lemon juice and egg yolk mixture to the chicken broth. Mix constantly.

15. Let the soup cook for 10 more minutes, continually stirring.

16. Serve with salt and lots of black pepper.

17. Enjoy! 

Contact Doga Usanmaz at [email protected].