aka Mum’s chicken soup

Last Saturday was my mum’s birthday. I mentioned in my previous post that I don’t live in the same city as my parents. I’d been pretty flat out for 4 days last week with the flu. So, I called mum to check how her day had been going & still being very much the needy child, I also wanted to know how to make chicken soup as I was just about done with the store bought kind. Now, I have experience with creamy, modern day soups but I always took it for granted my mum would always make the chicken soup & look after me. Alas, “one day when I’m big…” really arrived with this flu.

On the phone my mum tells me simply in less than 2 minutes: “Oh it’s easy… Cut the chicken into small cubes. Braise the chicken for a few minutes in quite a bit of garlic and ginger. You can use chilli powder, but add more of the ‘other’ spices (in our household we have 6 jars of core indian spices we cook with including…), i.e. cumin, coriander, fennel. Add your vegetables and a bit of fresh coriander, add water.” So how does it not stay watery mum?: “Mix some maizena (cornflour) in half a cup of milk. Add this to the pot and let it cook on medium to high heat for 45 minutes.”

This is where I had that childhood nightmare memory of once eating some ‘soup’ a relative made us when I was young and it was boiled vegetables in salt water. One of the reasons I was possibly always scared of making this specific soup.

But I attempt this because I am desperately in need of healing. With a few of my own little adaptations, of course.

Serves 6

Cooking Time: 1h30min

1/2 small chicken (skinless)
1 cup of par cooked elbow macaroni cornetti
750g cubed fresh veg (I was sick so I bought a soup bag from the grocer which had the most important ingredients: carrots, potatoes, butternut, onions, celery and parsley)
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin (jeera) powder
1 tsp coriander (dhanya) powder
1/2 tsp fennel (saunf) powder
3 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp smoked red chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sliced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
1 tsp mixed herbs
Salt to taste
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp maizena (cornflour) or regular flour
Handful of fresh coriander (chopped)


Cut the chicken into small cubes. Do not debone the chicken. The bones create flavor in the soup, which is needed especially since I don’t believe in powdered stock. Add all the spices and paste to the chicken. In a big pot, heat some olive oil and add the chicken, braising it for 3-4 minutes on medium to high heat. Add the the coriander and thereafter the vegetables. Add boiling water, doubling the volume occupied in the pot. Bring the stove down to a medium heat and let cook for 30mins.


Once you see that the liquid level has fallen in line with the chicken and veggies, add the maizena/flour and milk you have whisked together in a jug. Add the noodles and some more boiling water to just cover the ingredients and let cook on medium heat for another 30 minutes. You should see the liquid thicken slightly. The noodles will also help create ‘body’ for the soup.

I switched off the stove and left it on the plate for another half hour. I was so pleasantly surprised when I put a spoonful in my mouth and it tasted just like my mums! It felt like a hug in a bowl…


Bon Appetit