Sosamma’s Basic Broth

Sosamma to her childhood friends and family (or Mary Mathew when she headed up the YWCA and received the Queen of England in 1961), my mom was a sensational cook. Her soups gave a warm welcome to guests on a chilly New Delhi winter evening. This basic broth could pass for an elegant soup, ladled, steaming, into fine china teacups, and garnished with croutons that gently capsized into the deliciousness on the way to the table!




Sauté ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 onions, sliced

1 bay leaf 

2 cardamom pods

1 stick cinnamon

2 cloves


Dried spices:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 tablespoon salt



4 cups (½ lb) baby spinach

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 onion, sliced

2 zucchini, cubed

1 green bell pepper, rough chopped

3 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces 

1 carrot, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 fennel bulb, rough chopped

4 garlic cloves, whole, smashed with the back of a flat knife

1 potato, rough chopped, unpeeled is fine

2 tomatoes, quartered

1 bunch parsley, rough chopped


1 whole chicken, patted dry

3 quarts water


Optional (for extra fiber): 

1 cup chana dal, well-rinsed and drained


This recipe works for a vegetarian version if you leave the chicken out. 

1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add sauté ingredients. Sauté for 3 minutes. Lower temperature, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions begin to brown and soften. 

 2. Add remaining ingredients, including the dried spices, vegetables, chicken (if using), and water. Chana dal can be added at this stage. Cover and simmer for one hour.

3. Cool slightly and strain through a colander, pressing down on all of the ingredients before discarding. Check seasoning.



Gelatin: Bone broth is a staple of gut-healthy diets. A well-known anti-inflammatory, the gelatin in bone also restores the mucosal lining of the stomach and promotes the secretion of gastric acid aiding in the digestion of nutrients. Sosamma’s chicken soup has proven curative powers!


A Sosamma chicken broth ritual: Bone the chicken, and throw the meat back in, along with some whole grain pasta, sliced cabbage, a little salt, and fresh black pepper. Irresistible soup!