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Ilse Cooks the Books: Huweliksformulier or Chicken Soup

───   12:46 Thu, 16 Jul 2020

Ilse Cooks the Books: Huweliksformulier or Chicken Soup | News Article

I can’t imagine surviving through winter without soup. Quite frankly, any dish I can eat with a spoon from a bowl gets my vote.

Soup is warm and comforting and makes you feel loved.  At the first real hint of winter, when the evenings start getting chilly and the mornings darker, I know it’s time to put on a pot of soup.

I love them all – pumpkin, tomato, mushroom, minestrone, bean soup.  But if its bitterly cold outside and you feel the sniffles coming on, there is nothing like chicken soup.  Hearty farmhouse chicken soup is a universal favourite, but I quite like an Asian version, especially if I feel under the weather.  The recipe I share with you today, is from the supremely talented Errieda du Toit and she offers a version of both.

My paternal grandmother made a Sunday night soup that would fill you up like nobody’s business. She didn’t have a lot of money, but she knew how to feed her children and grandchildren.  Her Sunday night soup contained practically everything leftover in the fridge that might not make it through another day. Very occasionally, it wasn’t all that successful (boerewors anyone?), but most of the time, it was simply delicious.  I can still smell it as I sit here.  Thick, hearty and always with a cup of macaroni thrown in.  I miss you, Ouma Bettie.


“Usually, I’m the first person in the house to get the flu in winter.  My Kitchen-doctor Ian makes me this penicillin-chicken soup, known as his ‘I do’ soup.  It comes with an ‘extra mile clause’ if you can’t shake the flu.  The soup is based on the well-known ‘hot and sour’ soups from the East.  My husband believes, as do the Eastern cooks, that the vinegar and white pepper should be added at the final moment so that the flavours of the hot steam can open the nasal passages of the patient when he or she receives the hot bowl of soup.”  - Errieda du Toit


Feeds 4-6


A drizzle of oil

1 small whole chicken

3 medium or two large onions, chopped

2 leeks, washed and sliced

A bunch of spring onions (around 5) chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

A bunch of parsley, chopped, save some as a garnish

A few celery sticks, chopped

2,5 litres of boiling water

2 chicken stock cubes, dissolved in the 250 ml boiling water

Salt and pepper



125 g mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

1-2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped, or seeds left in if you like a bit of a kick

3 cloves of garlic, finely grated

Thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated

15 ml honey

30 ml soy sauce

10 ml dried turmeric or thumb-sized piece of fresh turmeric, grated

60 ml rice vinegar

White pepper

Dried mushrooms soaked in warm water (optional)


Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Brown the chicken on both sides and remove from the saucepan.  Add the onions, leeks and spring onions to the pot and sauté until soft and golden.  Add the carrots, most of the parsley and celery and stir.  Add the chicken back into the pot, cover with the boiling water, add the chicken stock, cover with a lid and simmer for at least 60 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Turn the chicken twice, during the cooking process.

Remove the cooked chicken from the stock, and pick the meat from the bones (watch out for small, sharp bones).  Cut the meat into bite-size pieces and add back into the soup. Cook for 10 more minutes on a low heat, adjust the seasoning and garnish with parsley just before serving.



Follow the basic recipe, but add the mushrooms in with the onion, leeks and spring onions.  Once soft and golden, add the chilli and garlic and cook for another minute or two.  Add the chicken back into the pot with the boiling water and stock and continue with the recipe. Add the rest of the ingredients once you have added the cooked chicken meat back to the pot with the stock.  Cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes and serve.

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