Magic Chicken Soup: a healing combination of turmeric, ginger, garlic, bone broth and other glorious things.

I’ve been fighting off a cold for the past few weeks, and finally it’s set in, coinciding with a grey day and rain beating against the kitchen window. I’m feeling poorly, emotional, and tired, and when I feel like this I need soup, usually chicken, or my Tuscan bean soup. Today is no different, but I don’t feel like delving into my usual repertoire, I want a soup loaded with a lot of ginger, turmeric, garlic, fresh herbs, a fabulous broth, with a huge hit of vitamin C; something that’s going to be restorative, that will nourish, hydrate, and heal my body and soul. It has to be magic, and don’t we all need a little bit of that in our lives?

I started with a broth made on a lot of the above. It was delicious on its own, packed full of flavour, slightly oily and yellow, because of the turmeric I had used, and with a lovely gingery flavour. Then I started on the soup, using more turmeric and ginger, intensifying the flavours, while still trying to preserve the flavour of the number one ingredient, chicken. Because, that’s what it is, chicken soup, Jewish penicillin, sort of… 

I was lucky to have some chicken broth in the fridge, so if you do, use that instead of water for the stock: the flavour will be richer, and fuller in the mouth, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have it. Also, I quite like to serve this with a few spoonfuls of steamed brown or basmati rice in the bottom of each bowl, another little comfort factor for me. Please don’t wait till you catch a cold to make this soup, it’s great all year round, and in my opinion, is guaranteed to work its magic.

For the broth

  • 4 chicken marylands (chicken leg and thigh)
  • 1tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 fresh lime leaves
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • A walnut sized piece of both ginger and turmeric, chopped finely. Skin on is fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, skin on, cut in half
  • Half a bunch parsley
  • 2 litres water or chicken broth

In a large pot over a low heat melt the coconut oil and slowly brown the chicken pieces on all sides. This is important, and results in caramelisation, which then imbues the broth with a deep umani flavour. Add turmeric, ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the rest of the ingredients, water or chicken broth and bring to barely a simmer. Cook gently for two hours, take out the chicken, and pull meat from the bones. Set aside. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

For the soup

Serves 6-8

  • 1tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp turmeric, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • ½ Chinese cabbage, shredded
  • 2 litres fragrant chicken broth
  • Poached chicken from broth
  • ½ bunch parsley, chopped
  • 6 handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • Leaves from one bunch mint
  • 6-8 lime leaves, finely shredded
  • ½ bunch spring onions finely sliced
  • Sliced red hot chillies
  • Fresh limes or lemons, cut in half to serve
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Steamed brown or basmati rice (optional)

In a large pot over a low heat warm the sunflower oil. Add ginger, turmeric and garlic, and cook gently for a minute or two until fragrant. Don’t let burn! Add leek, celery, onion and cabbage, season with salt and pepper, put the lid on and let sweat for about 5 minutes. Take the lid off, pour in the broth and turn up the heat. Gently simmer until the cabbage is just cooked. I like the cabbage to have a little crunch, so don’t overcook it! Add the chicken meat, chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper, and then pop in the spinach leaves. Give the soup a good stir and serve in warm bowls, with several spoons of rice in the bottom of each bowl, and topped with mint leaves, shredded lime leaves, chillies and spring onions. Squeeze half a lime or lemon over each bowl before eating.