Chicken and Ginger Soup

It is difficult to find a proper boiling fowl these days. The best places to look are Chinese shops, where they are called endearingly ‘old hen’, or Halal butchers. It seems to me that our ethnic communities have priorities we would be well encouraged to emulate. In my recent visit to Smithfield Market for filming, I was interested to notice the large number of Chinese and West Indians who were painstakingly choosing such vital items as pigs’ trotters and heads or old hens. This is an Asian-style soup and tastes nicely of ginger.


  • 1 boiling fowl (old hen)
  • 1.75 litres/3 pints water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp finely shredded ginger
  • 750g/lb shredded Chinese leaves or spinach
  • soy sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten


Cut the chicken into pieces and boil for 1 hour in salted water. Strain retaining the stock, remove skin and bones from chicken and shred the flesh. If the stock has not enough flavour return the bones to it and boil to reduce, then restrain. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion gently until soft, add ginger and fry for 1 minute. Strain the chicken stock into this mixture, add the shredded chicken and cabbage. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, beat eggs and pour into soup stirring as you pour. Serve at once.