So incredibly simple, wonderfully cheap, enormously comforting, and bursting with curative powers, this soup is the perfect antidote to both the snowy weather and any lurking colds or flus. No sweating, no reducing – this is a Chinese style soup so just cover it with water and boil away. It will take about three minutes to prepare and an hour/ hour and a half to cook.
The red chillies have a higher Vitamin C content and are full of magnesium, potassium and iron and B vitamins; ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and relieves pain and nausea; the garlic contains antibiotic and antifungal properties; the onions are antiseptic; and the chillies thin mucus.
Goji berries are optional in this soup. Available in Asian food stores and health food shops at about €6.50 for 250g, they will add a thumping health kick to the soup, as well as a delicious flavour and colour. Goji berries were a big Celtic Tiger food fad, hailed as the new superfood by famous types and priced accordingly. But if you buy blueberries for the health benefits – expensive everywhere except Lidl and Aldi – goji berries actually work out much cheaper and will last for longer. And the Chinese have recognised their health benefits for centuries, using them almost entirely in savoury dishes.
Get the best value vegetable stock on the market: Marigold vegetable bouillon. Priced at €2.55 in Superquinn and Tesco, one carton is the equivalent of 15 stock cubes; eight standard Knorr stock cubes will cost €1.79 in Tesco and eight Knorr vegetable gel stock pots will set you back €3.29. Marigold is also undoubtedly the most delicious stock on the market, and the healthiest too – you’ll find it in supermarkets and health food shops.
- 2 onions, chopped in half and sliced into half moons
- 4-5 chestnut mushrooms (I hate mushrooms, so I simply exclude them from my soup)
- 3-4 chicken thighs or legs
- As much chilli as you like – see note below*
- 3 inches of ginger
- 10 cloves of garlic
- 2.5 litres of water
- 5 stock cubes or add stock to water as per instructions
- Completely optional: a large handful of goji berries
* For a milder soup add about 2 red chillies. For a medium strength add about four. Or if you like it really hot use very hot chillies like jalapeño, or extra extra hot habanero.
- Throw all the ingredients in the pot and cover with the water. Add the stock cubes or powder.
- Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for an hour and a half.
- Remove from the heat. Add the goji berries and raw chopped garlic.
- For a more substantial meal, you could add some noodles.