Nourishing Chicken Broth with a Little Persian Twist

 It’s that time of year again! Pretty much everyone I know seems to be down with a cold, and everyone seems to be either sporting a sniffley nose or coughing. I’ve managed to hold it off so far and I think a big batch cook of this bad boy has probably helped with that! Chicken broth is an age old remedy to cure the common cold, but I was surprised at just how global this old wisdom seems to be when I found it in my Persian cookbook. It’s not often that there’s such a broad consensus between old family recipes from the other side of the world and from superfood champions like the Hemsley sisters, who proclaim a bone broth to be the ultimate superfood.

This made about 5-6 generous portions and there was so much chicken that I actually was able to get a further portion of chicken to eat with another meal as well. It also freezes well, so can easily be heated up from frozen and enjoyed when you’ve got nothing in but still want a quick and nourishing meal. The original cooking process does require you to put the time in though, and is perfect to have on while you’re doing some other cooking or on a Sunday while you’re doing other bits. The pearl barley works really well in this and is actually pretty cheap so I’d recommend keeping this part of the Persian twist in. The saffron did provide a subtle flavour, but due to how expensive saffron is I’d say that if you don’t have it in it’s not the end of the world! It’s best to use chicken on the bone for this for extra flavour and nutrients, and don’t be put off by the extra work – once it’s been slowly poached, it should just fall right off the bone. Finally, don’t be put off by any fat floating to the top (and it will float to the top). If you’re serving it up straight away, use a bit of kitchen roll to mop this up. If the layer of fat develops in the fridge, you can simply scoop this off with a spoon. Remember, it’s all ‘healthy fats’ which are nourishing for our stomach lining and we’re doing our bodies lots of good.


  • 500g chicken drumsticks and thighs, with skins on and on the bone
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 carrots, 1 of which to be kept whole and 3 to be roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 100g pearl barley, cooked according to pack instructions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of saffron threads, pounded and dissolved in 2-3 tbsp hot water
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley
  • pepper, to taste
  • (1-2 tsp of bouillon, optional – if required in addition to seasoning)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

How to make it…

  1.  In a large and deep pan, boil the chicken with 2.5 litres of water for 15 minutes. Use a spoon to skim any fat or froth that rises to the top at this point.
  2. Next, add the onion, celery, the whole carrot, the bay leaves, turmeric and garlic. Leave to simmer for at least an hour, more if you prefer.
  3. Strain the soup, discarding everything but the chicken. Set the chicken aside, and pour the soup back into the pan. Add the chopped carrots, potato, pearl barley, salt and saffron liquid. While this is on, remove the skin from the chicken and roughly shred the chicken with a knife. Discard the bones and the skin, and add the chicken back into the soup. If you have a lot of chicken, you may wish to reserve some to add to another meal. Cook for a further 30 minutes.
  4. Finally, use kitchen roll if required to skim any further excess fat that may have risen to the surface of the soup. Remove the bay leaves. Season with pepper, and if the seasoning doesn’t feel sufficient add the bouillon. Serve with the lemon juice.
  5. Enjoy!

Based on ‘Soupeh Jo Sabkeh Momy’, page 124 in ‘Pomegranates and Roses – My Persian Family Recipes’ by Ariana Bundy



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