What’s cooking today: Chicken soup to take the edge off the chill

What’s cooking today: Chicken soup to take the edge off the chill
The ultimate cure-all: chicken soup

Don’t be chicken about trying this at home – it’s far better than store-bought and will make you feel quite alright.

The biblical Esau sold his birthright to his cunning brother Jacob for a pottage (soup or stew) of lentils.

As much as I adore lentils and have an unfathomable addiction to dahl, I realise hunger can drive one to desperation, but a well-cooked hearty bowl of chicken soup would be my undoing. Siblings take note. Fortunately, none of them have my recipe (yet).

This recipe, gleaned from a fabulous home cook many, many years ago, takes the idea of “Jewish penicillin” up a notch, by packing heaps of flavour, a slow-cooking process and filling ingredients that are just about to reach their best-by date, so as to minimise waste in the kitchen.

Don’t rush it — and if you can, eat it the next day. 

It’s worth the wait as the flavours improve with a little time.

Freezes well.

Hearty chicken soup


4 leeks, chopped

6 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped

2 carrots, grated

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 whole chicken, or 1kg of chicken pieces (bone-in)

1 cup barley

2 chicken stock cubes

1 cup cauliflower florets

1 cup parsley, chopped

4 cloves or pinch of clove

6 black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1cm knob of ginger, sliced into thin strips

1tsp dried thyme

1 tin tomatoes, chopped

1tsp paprika

2 litres of water

A few splashes of olive oil

Chopped chili pepper, optional

Maggi Seasoning to taste

Juice of 2 limes

2 tbsp soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute leeks, add the vegetables and chicken and brown slightly. Add chicken stock, barley, herbs, spices and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat so it simmers gently.

After about two hours, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly to allow the excess fat to rise to the top. Scoop off the fat, add a splash of fresh extra-virgin olive oil, Maggi seasoning to taste, and fresh lime/lemon juice. Serve with crusty bread. DM


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