Chicken ramen dish.
Chicken ramen dish.

When we first started working together my dear friend Bailey had this ever-growing list of foods I didn’t eat. Soup was high on the list; the broth akin to cloudy water to me on most occasions.

That is, until I sampled ramen in Tokyo a few years ago, seated in a singular stall inside a basement hole in the wall. I had ordered the dish on a screen, based mainly on pictures. It gave me a most profound understanding of depth of flavour. Wow! I had so many questions. Each spoonful more delicious than the last,  a warm golden liquid to change my view of broth forever, and a quest to get to this depth of flavour.

As we sipped, my friend told me their five-year-old’s favourite meal was chicken ramen, giving me newfound respect for the kiddo’s palate. It was his go to meal and especially with his daddy on his birthday. As we mm’d and aah’d in between slurps and the odd cough over a chilli, I thought of my own special broth-related moment. When I was a teen — albeit a troubling one, as my mother likes to remind me — mom bought me a book, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. The title didn’t sound inspiring. I’d not grown up on chicken soup, but more on umhluzi (fat drippings and juices from cooking lamb) that we’d sip and dip bits of bread into. Still, the book was incredible and a real panacea for my wondering teenage soul.

Image: Tshepo Mathabathe

I’ve been making broth for some time now, but Klara, a nutritional therapist based in Namibia, gave me the inside scoop on how to get the depth of flavour. Roast the chicken a bit first. I mean we brown meat for stews, so why wouldn’t we for a broth? Game changer! I was sick when I made this broth last month and, trust me, the adage rings true — this is healing stuff.

This broth soothes, it heals, it ends arguments even, and it brings peace to your heart and home. The past year has come with many meanderings, so treat yourself to the taste of this. You’ll thank yourself.


  1. Whole chicken (I use free range)
  2. 3 garlic cloves — smashed, skin on
  3. 3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  4. 1 shallot (even the green ends), roughly chopped
  5. 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  6. 2 sticks of celery (and the leaves), roughly chopped
  7. 1 chilli, cut down the middle
  8. 1 bay leaf (I use fresh)
  9. 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  10. ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  11. ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds
  12. 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  13. 1 tablespoon of ghee
  14. ¼ teaspoon of turmeric
  15. ½ teaspoon of coriander seeds
  16. 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard seeds
  17. A small pinch of ground nutmeg
  18. 10 x black peppercorns
  19. 2 x tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  20. 3 teaspoons of Himalayan salt (add more when serving)
  21. ½ teaspoon of white pepper
Image: Tshepo Mathabathe


  • Pre-heat the oven to 210°C
  • Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper
  • Place the chicken in the oven and allow the skin to brown properly and crisp up for about 40 minutes; turn it over after about  25 minutes to brown the underside
  • When the chicken is near browning time, heat a large stock pot over low-medium heat and add all the spices and bay leaf; warm through for less than a minute
  • Add the ghee and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then the onion, shallot, celery, and ginger and allow to cook a little
  • Add the carrots and stir through, then add the garlic after about 2 minutes, stirring so nothing sticks to the bottom
  • Add the apple cider vinegar and deglaze the pan
  • Put the browned chicken to the pot and add about 1.5l of water to cover the chicken and veg; bring to a boil.
  • Lower the heat, then allow the broth to cook in a rolling bowl on low heat for at least 4 hours, though I prefer 5 hours.
  • You will see this golden broth develop and your kitchen and home will smell wholesome.

When done, ladle into a bowl of your choice, shred some chicken into the bowl, add noodles if you desire — I use the buckwheat variety. Add the carrots, some coriander leaves, a squeeze of lemon and an extra sprinkle of salt and slurp up all the goodness.

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