A warm bowl of chicken soup is thought to cure whatever ails you, in body and spirit. Add fresh ginger root and a kombu leaf to the pot, and the soup is even more nourishing.
Ginger warms the body, potentially giving your immune system a kick-start during cold and flu season. It also has a tradition of calming gastrointestinal distress. While ginger lets itself be known in this soup with its subtle but spicy flavor, kombu is a stealth ingredient. This dried sea vegetable enhances the flavor of broth and leaves behind a wealth of minerals  without adding a “seaweedy” flavor.
A strip of kombu  can be added to any of your favorite soups (or homemade stock) to make the broth mineral-rich. Add kombu at the end of the simmering process, as it doesn’t take long to extract its nutrients. Once simmered, kombu can be thinly sliced and added back to the soup or tossed into a salad.
Aside from this recipe, a very simple kombu broth can be made by simmering a 4-inch strip of kombu in 4 cups of water for 4 minutes. A strip of dried kombu can also be dry-roasted in a pan for 5 to 7 minutes then ground into powder. Mix the powder with salt and use it to flavor just about anything.
Kombu keeps well in a sealed bag and is a fantastic ingredient to stash in the pantry. It’s easy to cook with, doesn’t have a strong flavor and adds important micronutrients. What’s not to like?
Time in the Kitchen: 15 minutes active cooking, plus 2 1/2 hours to simmer
- 1 onion, sliced or chopped
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 8 ounces (227 g) fresh ginger, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch thick chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- A pinch of black peppercorns
- 1 whole chicken, cut into 7 pieces and seasoned with salt
- One 5 or 6 –inch piece of kombu
- Optional vegetables: shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, carrots, spinach
Combine the onion, carrots, celery, ginger, garlic and peppercorns in a large, deep heavy pot. Add chicken, placing breasts on top. Cover with about 5 quarts of water. Add a generous pinch of salt.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and simmer until the chicken breasts are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken breasts from the pot. Cut the meat off the bone and return the bones to the soup pot. Set the meat aside to cool, saving it for another meal.
Continue to simmer the soup, uncovered, until the broth is fully flavored, about 2 hours longer. Add salt if needed.
After 2 hours, add the kombu. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
Use tongs to remove the kombu and chicken from the broth. Set aside.
Pour the broth through a colander set over a pot to strain the rest of the solids out of the broth, discarding the solids (you should have about 8 cups broth).
Bring the broth back to a gentle simmer. Shred the chicken, adding as much as you like back to the pot.
Thinly slice the kombu and add it back to the pot. Add any other veggies you desire (sliced carrots, sliced bok choy or spinach, shitake mushrooms, etc..) Simmer just until veggies are cooked.
Add salt and pepper to taste. For additional flavor, add a drizzle of sesame oil.