My Mum’s Chicken Soup by Jane Devonshire

It is such a privilege for us to be able to share this heirloom of a recipe from Jane Devonshire. Here is what Jane’s story behind this comforting family recipe…

A while ago I posted a photo of my chicken soup and since then have been asked numerous times to publish the recipe. This is one of my real family favourites that I often cook when my kids are a bit run down, sick or feeling in need of a bit of a pick me up.

So, here it is… It’s very simple. I’ve reproduced it exactly as my Mum taught me and exactly as I remember my Nanny making it – stock cubes and all. I really hope it brings a little goodness and comfort to you too; it’s such a family staple.

Please note I have given you quantities but it really is not an exact recipe. It’s definitely a case of throwing things in a cooking pot.

The recipe below will feed a family of 6 very economically for an evening meal. I usually serve it with dumplings or mashed potato. If you are having it as just a bowl of soup at lunchtime it will go a lot further.

Kids in the Kitchen

Stock Cubes – Little fingers like to peel and re-peel so give them the challenge of getting the wrapping off the stock cubes.

Pearl Barley – Let the kids add the barley into the soup. It’s very tactile and nice to run your fingers through. Tip – you may need a few more kid sized handfuls though! Another option for the younger kids get them their own pot or bowl and if you have some extra barley or rice let them play with the barley for longer. Giving them a spoon, measuring cup etc to encourage them to continue mixing/playing.

Recipe Courtesy Jane Devonshire MasterChef Champion 2016

Serves: 6

Cooking Time: 1.5-2 hours

Difficulty: Easy



  • 1 medium sized chicken, 1.75Kg approx
  • 2 onions
  • 1 medium sized swede, 525g approx
  • 525 g of carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 packs of liquid chicken stock to cover chicken and veg – If not quite enough I add some water
  • 3-4 Knorr chicken stock cubes
  • 1 – 2 tbsp mixed dried herbs
  • Pearl barley optional  2 – 3 handfuls about 75 g

Cooking Method

  1. You have 2 options you can ask your butcher if he can joint the chicken into x 8 portions and de-skin. Or, if I am honest I remove all the string etc holding chicken in place and I I cook the chicken whole in the stock etc. After an hour of cooking I carefully remove it from the stock using two carving forks and place into a large bowl or plate. Then using a spoon and a knife I gently remove the skin and break the chicken up into pieces, I discard the skin and return all the rest of the chicken including the bones to the pot for another hour. Please be careful if you do this as it will be boiling hot. You can skip this and leave the skin on if you don’t object to having it in the soup although I find it quite unpleasant.                             
  2. Chop the onion and the leek and add to the pot with the chicken.                     
  3. Add the chicken stock and Knorr stock cubes and mixed dried herbs plus (optional) pearl barley if using. Use extra water to make sure chicken covered.                                          
  4. Put onto simmer on low heat on hob.                                      
  5. Chop swede and carrot and add to the pot as soon as they are ready.               
  6. After an hour remove the chicken from the stock pot, de-skin and joint it – see instructions above.                                                           
  7. Season if necessary at this stage; please remember stock cubes are very salty. I always add some pepper at this stage.                                                
  8. Cook for approx another 1 hour until the chicken is falling off the bone. I serve it with the bones in as we have always eaten it like that but please feel free to remove them if you prefer.  

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