Recipe: Medicine Bird Soup

posted on February 23, 2023
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The old saying that chicken soup is good for the soul may have more meaning than most realize. Combating a cold with chicken soup works in many ways. The hot broth will help clear a stuffy nose while soothing a sore throat. A small quantity of salt will help restore electrolytes, and the bird has tryptophan, which can increase serotonin levels. Carbs provide energy, while vegetables offer a good dose of vitamins and minerals.

The diet of the forest-dwelling fowl is diverse, with plenty of natural herbs, berries and fruiting bodies, like rosehips. The grouse are forest herbalists collecting various medicinal plants and converting them into succulent flesh. Hunters benefit from making soup from ruffed grouse and taking the medicinal qualities even further than a domestic chicken. Early settlers and trappers often looked at ruffed grouse as a medicine bird.  

If you are feeling under the weather, perhaps a bowl of medicine bird soup is the cure. Even today, trappers will make soup from a ruffed grouse to treat colds and other ailments. The whole bird is plucked or skinned, as bones are essential to the rich and healthy broth.


  • 2 grouse (whole carcass plucked or skinned)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 quarts chicken stock or water
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cobs corn, or 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup rice, wild rice, or barley
  • Parsley


  1. Peel carrots and onion and dice with celery. Remove the corn from the cob and peas from the pods (or measure frozen). Set all aside.
  2. Quarter the grouse. In a large stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat and place the grouse to brown, turning once. Add the diced vegetables, corn, and peas. Cook until onions are translucent.
  3. Add the water or stock to the stockpot and bring it to a simmer. Add the bay leaves, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the grouse from the pot, let cool, and debone. Dice the meat into small pieces and return it to the pot.
  5. Add the rice to the pot, stir well, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
  6. Serve hot with chopped parsley.


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