Soulful Chicken Soup – Dani Valent

A supremely comforting soup with a no-waste twist

Everybody needs a simple chicken soup in their repertoire: this one is warming, sustaining, nurturing and nourishing. Steaming a whole chicken in the Varoma is brilliant for all kinds of reasons. Firstly, the chicken juices drip over the vegetables and into the mixing bowl, flavouring everything and forming a healthy broth at the same time. Steamed chicken also remains incredibly juicy. It’s a really clean way to cook too, with very little mess to deal with at the end – love you, Thermomix!

Depending on how many people you’re feeding, you may decide to chop up all the meat for your soup or keep some back for other uses (sandwiches, chicken tart, risotto and stir fries are all possibilities – see links below).

Until about 50 years ago, chickens were always a special event. Now, less so. Their meat is ubiquitous. This soup tries to bring back that olden-days sense of honour by using the bones to make a stock, and then turning them into pet food. It’s a completely waste-free meal.

Travel with me to a saffron farm to learn more about the magical flower that flavours our broth.

Serves 6-8
Time: 1 hour 10 minutes for soup, 2 hours for soup, stock and pet food


  • 1.5L (50 oz) water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch saffron
  • 2 sticks celery, in 1cm (0.5in) slices
  • 200 grams (7 oz) carrots, scrubbed and cut into thick coins
  • 150 grams (5.3 oz) parsnip, scrubbed and cut into thick coins
  • 1 small turnip, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1 onion, sliced into thick rings
  • 1 lemon, halved, plus extra to serve
  • 1.4-1.6kg (3.5lb) free-range chicken
  • salt and pepper
  • handful silverbeet, chopped, optional
  • handful parsley, chopped


1.Place 1.5 litres water, garlic, bay leaf and saffron in mixing bowl.
2. Place celery, carrots, parsnip and turnip in steamer basket. If they don’t fit, or you want to cook more vegetables, arrange around chicken in Varoma. Set steamer basket in place.
3. Lay onion in Varoma dish. Place lemon inside chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken on top of onion, ensuring that Varoma lid can close. Set Varoma in place. Cook for 60 min/Varoma/speed 2, or until a skewer poked into chicken thigh makes clear juices flow.
4. Remove chicken from bone and roughly chop or shred, holding back some meat for another use, if desired. (See my Chicken Tart and more ideas below!)
5. Place chicken, cooked vegetables and silverbeet, if using, in bowls and top with steaming liquid, which is now a nutritious broth. (If desired, this broth can be strained before serving.) Squeeze a little lemon juice into each bowl, and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Waste-Free Wonder

Go completely waste free by making a stock from the carcase then turning the carcase into pet food.

6. Remove all meat from carcase and use the bones to make a stock. Break apart carcase and place bones in mixing bowl.
7. Cover with water up to maximum level. Cook 45 min/100°C (212°F)/speed 1. Strain, reserving stock and storing in refrigerator (if using within three days) or freezer.
8. Cooked bones can now be turned into pet food. Return to mixing bowl and blend 10 sec/speed 8. Use within 2 days or freeze.


  • Use the best chicken you can. You’re gathering every last bit of goodness from this bird, right down to the bones, so you want it to be of good quality.
  • When feeding ‘mush’ to pets, start with a little to ensure it agrees with them. My dog loves it!
  • If you don’t use all the chicken meat in your soup, you might like to use it in these dishes:
    • Chicken Tart, a picnic-friendly tart with a fun pastry lattice.
    • Stir-Fry: instead of steaming beef as in the recipe, simply add the cooked, chopped chicken at the end.
    • Risotto: add a handful of chopped chicken to almost-finished risotto.


  • Use a smaller chicken or chicken pieces, if desired.
  • Use stock in place of water, or add 1 tablespoon stock paste to water.
  • Add star anise, cloves and cinnamon to water or stock for a spiced and fragrant soup.
  • Omit saffron and add herbs such as parsley, sage and rosemary to Varoma, if desired.
  • Vary vegetables: celeriac, potatoes and green beans or peas (green vegetables added with 10 minutes to go) are all great.

More about this video

I love winter because it means I can devour copious amounts of soup. If you love soup as much as I do then you’re in luck. Listen to my recent radio chat that’s all about soup then check out my list of delicious soups below:

  • Travel with me to a saffron farm to learn more about the magical flower that flavours our broth.
  • A girl’s gotta get dressed. Today I’m wearing Leonard Street.
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I love my Elk top & Obus pants

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