A Delicious & Nourishing Meal for a Postpartum Mama
Over many years of working as a maternal postpartum care specialist, I have perfected a number of recipes that to me, encompass all the benefits of the recommended postpartum food guidelines for new mamas. Namely that they are warm, rich, flavoured with spices, densely nutritious and absolutely delicious.
Whenever I cook this chicken soup, I am asked for the recipe but up until now, I haven’t written it down. Instead, it’s been in my head for many years. 🙂 However, one of my lovely mamas whom I’m working with at the moment just messaged me and asked for it so that she could cook up a batch for her friend that has just given birth. I thought that was a great reason to sit down and put it down on paper.
As with my Nonna’s Minestrone Recipe, the ingredients and amounts can vary depending on what you have in your fridge and whether or not you want to make your own stock. I always use the whole chicken and make stock from the bones and vegetable scraps before starting the soup as homemade stock/bone broth is so nutritionally dense and nourishing. But if you don’t have time to do that just buy the best quality chicken stock you can afford and throw the bones in the freezer to use later if you want to.
I like to buy a fresh free-range, organic chicken and roast it (after drizzling it first with olive oil and salt) but you can also use a pre-cooked chicken from the supermarket to save time.
Chicken soup is a traditional postpartum meal in many countries including China, Ecuador and parts of Africa. The recipes will vary depending on the culture but it always makes a sustaining meal that will help the new mother recover from her birth and make nourishing breast milk for her baby. Here is my take on it.
2 x Tbsp Butter or Ghee
2 x Tbsp Olive Oil
1 x Free Range Roasted Chicken (either cooked by you at home or bought from the supermarket).
1 x Leek (top and tailed, sliced lengthwise then into thin slices)
4 x Cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
1 x Large Piece of Fresh Ginger (peeled and grated)
2 x Cups of Grated or Finely Chopped Root Vegetables (ideally sweet. I used a carrot, a parsnip, a sweet potato and a piece of butternut but depends on what you have).
1/4 of White Cabbage finely chopped.
3 or 4 Florets of Brocolli finely chopped.
1/4 tsp of Tumeric
Heaped Tablespoon White Miso Paste
Approx 1.5 x Litre or so of Chicken Stock (make your own using the recipe below or buy the best quality possible from supermarket)
Large Handful of Fresh Herbs finely chopped (I used mainly Parsley and around 4 x Sage Leaves, not too many as it’s strong)
Ground Black Pepper
A Block of Dried Egg Noodles (optional)
Strip the chicken meat off the bones and set it aside in the fridge.
Place the bones, skin, wings etc into a large pot and cover with around 2 x litres of water.
Prepare the vegetables for the soup and add all the stalks, peelings/offcuts to the stockpot.
Add one onion cut in half (but not peeled)
Two crushed cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp of whole peppercorns
1 Tbsp of Salt
A few slices of fresh ginger
1 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar (this helps to release the minerals from the chicken bones)
A handful of fresh herbs (if you have enough otherwise just use in the soup) I used 2 x Bay Leaves and a few stalks of rosemary and some fresh thyme.
Bring stock to boil on a high heat and then turn down to medium-low so it’s just simmering.
Cook for 90mins to 2 hours until it has reduced by around 1/3. You may need to skim the ‘scum’ from the top.
Strain and set aside ready to make the soup.
NB: This is a great way to use up a chicken carcass from a roast chicken meal too as the stock/broth can be frozen and used at a later date.
Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat and then add the leek, garlic and ginger.
Fry gently for five to ten minutes until soft but not browned, stirring occasionally.
Add 2 cups of grated/chopped root vegetables, stir and then cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the chopped cabbage and broccoli and continue cooking until all the vegetables are soft – around 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The longer the vegetables cook the sweeter they become.
Feel free to add more butter or oil if necessary.
Chop up the meat that you have set aside from the roasted chicken and then add.
Add the chicken stock/broth. It should come to a level that’s around an inch or two over the vegetables/chicken.
Add the Tumeric and Miso Paste and stir.
Increase the heat to bring to the boil and then turn down again to low/medium to simmer for around 30 minutes.
Stir occasionally and add more stock/water if necessary.
Taste! You may want to add more Miso paste. If the soup is getting too thick then add more stock/water until it gets to the consistency you like.
Add fresh herbs and ground black pepper to taste.
If you want to make it into Chicken/Noodle Soup add a block of broken up dried Egg Noodles and cook for around 10 minutes further until they are soft. Add more stock if necessary.
Serve with warm bread or toast or have as a meal on its own. Makes about 4 to 6 servings depending on how hungry you are!
PS: If you ARE a new mama please follow one of the ‘Six Secrets to a Slow Postpartum’ and pass this recipe on to one of your friends or family and ask them to cook it for you. Asking for help and support during these busy few weeks is so important as you do the important yet time-consuming job of caring for your new baby. You need and deserve others to care for you during this special (and exhausting!) time. Feel free to download my free e-book to find out other nurturing, nourishing ways to be supported during your Slow Postpartum here.