GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.

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 right now in the middle of co-ordinating the incredibly successful Ubud Writers Festival in Bali. 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.

*TOP TIP The value of turmeric as an immune booster and anti-inflamatory, 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 eaten cooked and with some kind of fat/oil. RAW TURMERIC can be an irritant to the stomach.