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My response to the global coronavirus crisis is not to start hoarding toilet paper, but to get cooking. Making food like this soup to boost your immune system and help your body resist infection makes far more sense to me than going bonkers at the supermarket. Eating good food through stressful times is always the answer and DON’T FORGET TO WASH YOUR HANDS?

I was inspired to put this recipe up after I had a message from my friend, Janet de Neefe, who lives and works in Bali, running restaurants and homestays – and running a memorable Food as Medicine trip we took with her to the Moluccas. Originally from Melbourne, she was having a good laugh at the worldwide toilet paper frenzy, saying that folk should put their energy to better use by making ‘turmeric jamu’ traditional Indonesian immune boosting tonic, or a soup like this.

This is chicken soup with a difference. So tasty and good for you!



  • 1 small free range chicken
  • 1 large brown onion , chopped
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced – save most of the white part (I’ll tell you why later)
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • bunch thyme – I used lemon thyme
  • bunch of tarragon or sage
  • 2 stems lemon grass
  • 2 sticks celery with the tops, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • cover all in large stock pot with filtered water
  • add salt and pepper
  1. Bring to the boil and simmer for 90 minutes


  • Remove the chicken and set aside.
  • Strain the stock discarding the vegetables (these got fed to the chooks) and putting the clear stock back into a large pot and add……..
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric OR 2 tsp dried turmeric*
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup brown/green lentils either dried or canned.
  • 2 sticks celery finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • small bunch of kale finely shredded
  • small bunch parsley/coriander
  • 1 lime
  • 1 green chilli

Cook up the the stock with soup ingredients for 40 minutes. Now you have a choice. You can add some shredded chicken and serve with fresh green chilli and lime, or do what we did – put a leg cutlet in a bowl and pour the soup over.

I am reserving the remaining chicken, and white of the leek, to make a leek and chicken pie to be served with this delicious, healthy soup. Other ideas for the leftover chicken, that I have made in the past few weeks: yum chicken sandwiches with the cut up chicken tossed in chopped celery, parsley and mayonnaise: nasi goreng – fried rice: shredded with vegetables in noodles with toasted peanuts, chilli, fish sauce and coriander.

*TOP TIP The value of turmeric as an immune booster and anti-inflammatory works best when it is consumed with the addition of fats (milk/coconut milk/chicken) and when it is cooked – it can be absorbed more efficiently by the gut when prepared in this way. RAW TURMERIC can be an irritant to the stomach. YOU WANT TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TURMERIC – then click on this previous post

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