Proper Chicken Soup

This recipe is not revolutionary, or glamorous. It’s not authentic, or the definitive version of anything. It’s not even seasonally appropriate, now that I can actually see the sun, and some daffodils, and have abandoned one outdoor layer (but still wear a coat at all times, obviously, because I’m not some kind of crazy risk-taking daredevil who wishes to court hypothermia). It is only something simple that James likes. He asked me to write it down for him, and since I was writing it down for him anyway I thought I may as well write it down for you too. Also, apparently this blog now only covers soup and macarons.


This is the kind of chicken soup that takes a little time, and a little effort, although it isn’t at all difficult. It is genuinely healthy (something that can be said of very few things on this blog). It requires care, and attention. It is the sort of thing I make for people when I want to show them kindness in some way (I am only able to show kindness through the making of soup, bread, and cake, all of which I randomly leave on the doorsteps of friends in the neighbourhood because social interaction requires too much effort and I am useless). It is supposedly the sort of thing one uses to cure illness, and though this claim has no scientific basis that I am aware of, I merrily presume it is true anyway and make it for those who seem to be somehow ailing. This is why I would make a terrible doctor.


Notes: This recipe is obviously infinitely adaptable, so go ahead and add whatever vegetables and herbs you have kicking about. This is just my version among thousands of others.

You will need a large saucepan or pot that you can comfortably fit a whole chicken into.


1 whole chicken (I usually get one that will feed three-four people even if I am cooking for two, so that we have plenty leftover)
3 large carrots
2 stalks celery
1 white onion
a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 bay leaves (fresh or dry, either is fine)
handful of dry black peppercorns
4 shallots
1 fresh red chilli
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 nest of dried noodles (egg or rice, or whatever you have, is fine)


  1. Roughly chop 1 carrot, both stalks of celery, and the onion into large pieces – no need to peel. Put them in the bottom of your largest saucepan or pot, along with the stalks (not the leaves) from the bunch of parsley, the bay leaves, and the peppercorns. Take any string and packaging off the whole chicken and add it to the pot, then cover the bird with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt. Put the pot on a low heat, cover, and bring the water to a gentle poaching simmer. Let the chicken poach for around 1 – 1.5 hours until cooked through, checking it occasionally to make sure it is still covered in water. When cooked, the legs should be loose and completely floppy, coming away from the chicken when tugged.
  2. Remove all of the chicken from the pot, and turn the heat on the pan up to high, letting the liquid reduce. Meanwhile, strip all of the meat from your chicken and set it aside – you will either have to wait for it to cool slightly, or wear gloves. Discard the skin, and place the chicken bones back into the pot. Bubble the stock away for another half hour or so, tasting occasionally – it should be full of chicken-y goodness.
  3. Meanwhile, prep the rest of the soup ingredients. Roughly chop your parsley leaves, peel your shallots and cut them into slim rings, chop your chilli (seeds in or out, up to you), and peel and dice your ginger. When your stock is reduced and tastes delicious, strain it and discard the original vegetables and the chicken bones. Put the stock back into the original pot.
  4. Finally, add your shallots, chilli, and ginger to the liquid. Cook gently for 10 minutes, then add your chicken meat and your noodles. Cook until the noodles are soft (usually around four minutes). Take your soup off the heat, stir in your chopped parsley, and taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as required.


4 thoughts on “Proper Chicken Soup

  1. ruth

    I’d accept a pot of Chicken soup on my doorstep anytime from you Hannah – along with a bowl full your glorious wit – brilliant x

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