I am deep within the annual existential crisis otherwise know as The January Spring Clean. Literally so: I’m up to my knees in books, flung from their roosts on the book shelves in a desperate attempt to Get Rid Of This Infernal Clutter. I lift one at random and blow a film of dust from its decorative cover: Arabesque by Claudia Roden, one of my favourite cookbooks …

The first lesson of chicken soup club is this: you do not choose your chicken soup, your chicken soup chooses you.

As soon as I announce my plans to cook a different incarnation of the classic comfort food every month for a year, the Chicken Soup Conflict erupts. “My grandmother's Jewish penicillin is THE best!!!” emails a vague acquaintance. “Mexican chicken soup! Which other country actively encourages you to take both chocolate and tequila with your cure?” texts a friend. 

Eid Mubarak! As I type, the smell of toasted spices and marinated meat sinews through the window, open to the cold air just a fraction of a gap. Below, small groups gather excitedly on doorsteps before disappearing within, behind warm lit windows that glow enticingly in the darkness.

Join Hattie Garlick for the final instalment of A Year in Chicken Soup. After twelve months of culinary globetrotting via soups from Cambodia to Syria, Mexico to Nigeria, she returns to these shores for a final get-together with friends old and new round a soothing bowl of Cock-a-Leekie.

As Cambodians wake and shake their dreams from their slumbering limbs, they face a real working day that is likely to revolve around rice. According to a recent report by the New York Times, 80 per cent of the population work on the paddies. Which explains why Da, a Cambodian now transplanted to the urban fringes of London, says that Chicken Rice Soup — or borbo sach moan — runs in her veins. … (read on)

Join Hattie Garlick at Hackney's Ridley Road market to find the ingredients for her latest recipe, a soup so substantial that it was served with knife and fork...

Have you read Only in London, by Hanan Al Shaykh? There’s a passage in it that describes one of the main characters, freshly arrived in the UK, making a to-do list. ‘This is going to become my country’ she writes, ‘I’ve stopped living a temporary life. And so, she must learn to speak English properly, look for a job and ‘Stop eating Arab food – not because the garlic and coriander make my breath smell, but because this kind of food makes me feel safe and secure and reminds me of childhood and home.’

A friend’s grandmother, a holocaust survivor, recently turned ninety-five. Surveying her life, she gave the following advice to young women: “be happy every day, eat, wear a scarf and don’t marry a schmendrick.” It seemed like a good idea to heed her tip-off, and make Jewish chicken soup the second ‘chicken soup from around the globe’ to be cooked in our Comfort Food Cafe…

I’ve had to source some difficult ingredients for previous chicken soups – a kosher boiler chicken, memorably, and pepper from a particular province of Cambodia. This has to rank as the trickiest, though. For Mexico’s contribution to The Year in Chicken Soup I had to find a baby of less than 40 days old…