Coastal Chicken Soup
180 Min

Coastal Chicken Soup

A few days ago, I overheard a friend say that pho is his all-time favorite go to food, be it for celebration, comfort, or sickness. I can understand why, chicken soup is beloved around the world and the Vietnamese pho is particularly delicious with its rich broth and infusion of aromatic herbs. But it got me thinking that chicken soup is also like a blank canvas that can take on the flavors of all regions of the world from Tuscany to Chengdu to Kerala. India is not a country of soups however there are umpteen aromatic soup like lentil and vegetable stews and curries, usually eaten with rice or such.

Here is a soup inspired by the coast of Kerala using cardamom and black pepper native to that region. Like most curries, this soup tastes best a few hours later or the day after when all the flavors have had some time together and mellowed out. The most flavorful bones to use for soup are chicken feet, which until recently, were only available in Asian grocery stores. Coconut milk adds a touch of creaminess, and the ginger adds a sharp bite. If you have leftovers, freeze it and it will make for a wonderful meal a few months down the road.

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Cook Time

180 Minutes



Step 1
In a large stockpot, combine chicken legs, bones, ginger, kari leaves, red chiles, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, mace pods, turmeric, salt and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Alternately, simmer at very low heat overnight or for 6 to 8 hours. Add more water if the level is getting low. You should be left with 6 cups of stock. Turn the heat off and let the broth rest for another hour. Strain, squeezing all the juices out.
Step 2
Remove the chicken meat from the legs, cut into small chunks and set aside.
Step 3
In a large stockpot, combine the stock from above with coconut milk, tomatoes and pasta or noodles. Cover and simmer until the pasta is cooked through. Add the chicken leg meat back into the soup. Again, let the soup rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 4
Add the celery and spinach leaves just before serving so they remain bright green. Top off with cilantro, mint, and lime juice and serve.
1 pound of skinless chicken legs with bones
1 pound of chicken bones (feet or backs)
3-inch piece of whole unpeeled ginger, roughly sliced
4 to 5 stalks of Kari leaves
15 to 20 whole red chiles
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoons whole green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon whole mace pods
1 teaspoon dried turmeric powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes
2 cups of dried pasta or noodles
3 to 4 stalks of celery, minced
6 cups packed spinach leaves
1 bunch cilantro, minced
Small handful of mint leaves
Juice of 2 limes

Notes & Variations

  • Replace the black pepper, cardamom, and mace with spices of your choice from cinnamon to saffron.
  • The stock in step 1 can be made a few days before. It can also freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Use any vegetables you have at hand – if adding carrots and potatoes, add them ahead of time so they are cooked through. Add the green vegetables and herbs at the end to keep their color and flavor.
180 Min

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Coconut milk is the ideal dairy alternative!

Coconut based soups