Healing chicken soup

Dairy/Gluten Free: Really, this is more of a soup than a stock, but if you have a family, you can supply a meal, as well as nourish yourself as well, by just eating the broth. Include as much garlic and ginger as you can tolerate for boosting the immune system in times of need. Dried Shitake mushrooms are another valuable addition for boosting the immune system, and could also be used in place of the chicken for a vegetarian soup. When unwell, eat the broth only, not the meat.

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken 1 - 1.5kg skin removed as desired, preferably with neck intact 1 medium leek (2 if smaller) or onion - thinly sliced and leek well washed 2 - 3 carrots, finely diced 2 - 3 stems celery, finely sliced fresh herbs - thyme, sage and marjoram, a couple of good size stems each 1 cob of corn (or more if desired) kernels cut off and added to soup, along with the cob 1/2 medium orange sweet potato - peeled and finely diced 3 - 4 cloves garlic - roughly chopped (green garlic would be wonderful if available) freshly grated or sliced ginger to taste 1 - 2 tablespoons white wine or 2 teaspoons tablespoon apple cider vinegar 2 bay leaves pinch black pepper big handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped - stems and all 1 tablespoons Kelpamare optional 8 dried shitake mushrooms (optional) handful of flat leaf parsley - finely chopped

Method:

Begin by placing a large pot over a low heat - add the chicken. If there is some skin left on the chicken (especially an organic one) the fat should start to render and provide a base to sautŽ the vegies. Start to cut the leek, carrots and celery, throwing them into the pot as you go. You should begin to hear a very gentle sizzling - this will begin to develop good flavour in the soup - just keep the heat low enough so there is no burning. Add the herbs and continue to cook over a gentle heat while you cut the corn, sweet potato, garlic and ginger, then add. If you would prefer to make a vegetarian soup, you will need to add a little olive oil to this initial phase.

Add all other ingredients and cover well with water or stock (the liquid should just only cover the chicken, approx 2 - 2.5 litres). If this is a very large chicken (2 kg) you may need more. If you are using Shitake mushrooms without the chicken, add them here, with only 2 litres water. Cook over a gentle flame for approx 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the soup and take all meat from the bone and set aside. If the chicken is older, leave to simmer until quite tender. Add the bones and any skin back to the cooking soup. Simmer for another 1 - 2 hours, the longer the better.

After this time, remove the bones from the soup and discard (if the chicken is still intact, remove the meat from the bones and set aside, discard the bones). If you have used Shitake mushrooms, remove these and cut finely, then add back to the soup. Taste and add more flavourings if desired - these would be more herbs, fresh parsley, salt (or tamari) pepper and kelpamare. Remove as much fat as desired at this stage, it will be floating on the top. Judge the consistency of the soup - remember the meat still has to be added back. If the soup is too thin, you may choose to add pasta (see below) or bring to a good boil and reduce until nice and hearty - this in itself will concentrate and intensify the flavour hugely. Just before serving, add the meat to the pot and simmer for 2 mins to warm and stir through the chopped parsley. All in all, it should take from 2 - 3 hours from beginning to finish, less if not using the chicken. If you find it gels as it cools, you know you have a good and powerful soup.

For Added Texture and Heartiness:

Add 1 - 2 tablespoons rice, white or brown. Brown rice takes longer to cook and can be added to the soup along with the water, white can be added after the initial 1 - 1/2 hours, allowing approx 10 mins for it to cook. Noodles or pasta can be added to the soup at that time also, they will help to thicken it as they cook. Serve as soon as the noodles are ready.