Family Meal: Charlotte’s 48-Hour Healing Chicken Soup
"I really believe in the old saying that the kitchen is the heart of the home."
At our restaurants, we are guided by listening and learning from the stories of our team, particularly the ways our families, upbringings, and lineage have shaped the way we consider, source, prepare, and share food. Our series Family Meal spotlights recipes from different members of our team that have — in some way — informed the way they cook today.
Today, a nourishing “cure-all chicken soup” shared by Gjelina manager Charlotte Weight — “Whenever I start to feel the slightest hint of a cold, I get this delicious soup going and in a few days I’m back on top... I find making any kind of soup (but this one especially) so grounding and therapeutic. Soup is my meditation when I’m stressed out and my medicine when I’m unwell.
Food has always been a huge part of my family life. I really believe in the old saying that the kitchen is the heart of the home. So cooking must be the pulse and food is the blood.”
“I come from a background of chefs, food writers, painters and photographers. My parents moved my older sister and me out of the city to the remote bushlands of New South Wales, just north of Sydney, when I was two. We lived truly "off the grid" — we had no electricity. We cooked on a campfire. Our living space was a circus tent and our sleeping quarters were an old converted transit bus. Mum had a biodynamic vegetable garden. We had chickens and there was a local dairy at the bottom of the valley where we'd collect our milk. We lived like this while Dad built us a beautiful house. This was my childhood. Knowing where real food came from. Understanding the seasons and building things from scratch. I wouldn't have it any other way.”
“Later on, in my teens, we moved back to Bondi Beach, where life was skating, surfing, and backyard bbqs. My friends knew they would always eat delicious, interesting food at my place. Even though we didn't have a lot, we would always feed everyone. This mentality has stayed with me throughout life which is probably why, even after studying in other fields, I gravitated toward this industry. Even when money is tight, I always know how to eat well because my parents taught me how to be creative and make things from scratch.”
“Throughout life I've been very fortunate to be surrounded by generous, creative people with backgrounds from all over the world. Most notably my godmother, who is probably my favourite cooking partner in crime. Her dad was Chinese and she has passed on some really incredible techniques, flavours and recipes to me. My confidence in Asian flavors (some found in this recipe) is credit to her and to her roots.”
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“I very rarely follow recipes and am constantly tweaking my own. This one is very open to interpretation but the basic overall gist should stay the same. Another great thing about this soup is that almost nothing goes to waste.”
Charlotte’s 48-Hour Healing Chicken Soup
1 organic free range chicken
1 bulb of fennel, sliced
2-4 French shallots, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Handful of chopped cilantro
Fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
Thumb of fresh turmeric, grated with a microplane
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp whole black pepper corns
1 tsp Chinese five spice
2-3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp ghee
1 Tbsp raw honey
Small pour of Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine), to deglaze
Note: Set aside all veg scraps including onion and garlic skins. We’ll use them later.
Bones from the chicken
½ cup apple cider vinegar
Chicken feet or marrow (soup) bones
In a big heavy pot, sauté shallots, fennel and garlic in ghee. Once they’re all soft add carrots, celery, ginger, turmeric, cilantro and dry spices. Then the honey stir and let caramelise a little without burning (that’ll make it bitter). Deglaze with Shaoxing and then nestle in your chicken, add some sea salt and cover with filtered water. Pop on a lid and bring to a gentle boil then lower heat and simmer for 2-3 hours.
Once you can pull out a leg bone easily with a pair of tongs you want to turn off the heat and remove the whole chicken into a big bowl. Allow to cool enough to handle. (Or do what I do because I’m impatient and do an Edward Scissorhands type thing with multiple tools while also burning your fingertips).
Remove all the bones, skin and cartilage and put them into another heavy bottomed stock pot. Put all that delicious shredded chicken meat back into the original pot. At this point you can enjoy some of the soup while you complete Part 2.
Put your additional chicken feet or soup bones in a hot oven until they’re golden brown. Then add these to the OG chicken bones in the stock pot. Cover with filtered water, add ACV and some sea salt.
This needs to bubble away slowly for about a day and a half. This will extract all the goodness from those bones (the ACV helps with this) giving you a luscious nutrient dense bone broth. During that last couple of hours of cooking you can add all your veg scraps and some extra diced and any other flavours you desire (add all this at the beginning and the flavours will burn). Season to taste, allow to cool a little and then strain. Toss all the solids you’ve extracted all the goodness from and add the liquid to the OG soup.
It is now complete. Refrigerate or freeze however you see fit. I can eat this soup for days until it’s gone, adding bits and pieces each time. Some bok choy and coconut milk, lime and jalapeños or just some steamed rice. Enjoy!