Try this recipe from Nashville’s Soup Lady

Chicken noodle soup from Nashville's Soup Lady

If you walk up to Aundra Lafayette at the Richland Farmer’s Market in Nashville on a Saturday morning, expect a hug. Actually, you can expect to get two hugs: one when you meet her and one after you purchase some of her irresistible soup.

Aundra is famous for being Nashville’s Soup Lady, a title that she bestowed upon herself when she began selling her soups at farmers’ markets about a decade ago.

“Soup helps you out, whatever you might be going through,” she says. ‘It’s comforting.”

Aundra’s affinity for soup goes back to her career as a dancer, dance instructor and choreographer.

“When you choreograph a dance, you blend together a series of unique movements to create something better than the sum of the individual steps,” Aundra explains. “Soup is also a conglomeration of a lot of different things, just like choreography.

Aundra Lafayette, selling her soups at a farmers' market.“When I first made soup, I didn’t use recipes,” she says. “I just made everything up, just like choreography. I started with a vegetable soup, and then a mushroom soup.”

Then Aundra started branching out. Crab bisque. Tilapia chowder. Salmon chowder. And the rest is history.

Favorite soups and advice

Aundra’s biggest sellers are probably either chicken noodle or lentil soups. When she sets up her stand at the farmer’s market, she has about five or six different kinds, including a couple of vegetarian options, which she sources locally.

“I’m committed to supporting local farmers,” she says. “I buy all of my vegetables from local growers, including the ones at the farmer’s markets.”

Aundra adapts her soups to meet her customers’ health needs. For example, she’s made some soups with oat milk and milk made from nuts, rather than relying on heavy cream. She adds flavor from herbs and lemon, rather than just salt, since some people with high blood pressure need to watch their sodium intake. She uses vegetables like peppers, spinach and collard greens, as well as grains like quinoa to add flavor and texture.

“You can make soup healthy and satisfying by using different ingredients,” she says. “Just don’t make it watery. I don’t like a thin soup. You want it to be thick, like a sauce. It’s got to have body to it. Just experiment. There’s no right or wrong way to make a soup.”

Staying active keeps her young

At age 75, Aundra stays active. Dance is still a major part of her life. She dances sometimes with a local group. She also teaches dance, including a creative movement class for students at a local elementary school.

But she’ll always be best known as the Soup Lady.

You can find Aundra in Nashville on Saturdays at the Richland Farmer’s Market. She also sells her soups at the St. George’s Farmer’s Market on Thursday afternoons in the summer.

Here’s one that you can try yourself.

Aundra Lafayette’s Chicken Noodle Soup


8-10 chicken thighs
Pasta of your choice (egg noodles, farfalle, elbow macaroni or rotini)
Red and green peppers
Pico de Gallo
1 red onion
1 celery stalk
1 lemon
1-2 tomatoes (optional)
Herbs of your choosing (turmeric, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, cumin, crushed red pepper)
Something green (spinach, collard greens or kale)


Aundra: I use short thighs for my chicken soup. It provides a stronger taste and a richer broth. Boil the chicken in a large pot of water. Add the herbs while cooking the chicken and later as needed. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot. Add all of your chopped up veggies, greens and pasta. Let the flavors combine.

I don’t cut up my chicken. I pull it apart. I think it’s much better and makes the soup chunky. Add the chicken slowly. Add additional seasonings or ingredients to your taste. Chicken soup is pretty do-it-yourself. Enjoy!

Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson is Nashville-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years of experience. She specializes in health care and family issues.

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