Serves 4 to 6 

This is the chicken soup that my family likes best. There is something about the combination of tender potatoes in gently spiced broth that warms us on cold evenings and soothes us, especially when we are feeling tired and a little grumpy. Young children enjoy peeling garlic and pulling cilantro leaves from their stems. Older children can cut the vegetables and measure the spices. Remind everyone to wash their hands with warm soapy water after handling chicken.

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1½ pounds White Rose, Yellow Finn, or red potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ bunch spinach or other greens (¼ pound), cut or torn into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced, for garnish


Cook the chicken

Rinse the chicken in cold water. Drain completely. Mix together the garlic, oil and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the chicken and stir until the chicken is evenly coated with the garlic and oil. In a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, sauté the chicken stirring every few minutes. Cook the chicken until almost cooked through, about 8 minutes (it will be cooked again in the soup). Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.

Sauté the spices and cook the potatoes

Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the ginger and cumin seeds. Cook until the spices become fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, water and bay leaves. Cover and bring to boiling over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Finish the soup

Ten minutes before serving, stir in the chicken, spinach, salt and pepper. Simmer the soup over medium heat, until the spinach is wilted and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and stir in the cilantro. Ladle into bowls and garnish with thinly sliced green onion.


*Add the juice of 1 lime along with the cilantro.

*Omit chicken and use 1-inch pieces of boneless turkey or lamb.

* After the potatoes are cooked, add 1 cup diced tomatoes. Cook the soup for 10 more minutes and then add the greens and chicken.

© Lynn Walters 2001