When lockdown started, grandmother Yochy Davis started making batches of kosher chicken soup for her neighbours as a gesture of goodwill.
With her fashion business on pause, she would dish out portions of the golden goodness to the elderly and vulnerable – including the local vicar’s widow.
But three months in, demand for the soup has soared. With a team of volunteers, Israel-born Mrs Davis now oversees the delivery of chicken soup, latkes, challahs, fruit pots and desserts to around 140 homes across north London and Essex every week.
And all come with portions of kneidlach, noodles and croutons – without which no chicken soup is complete.
“It’s Jewish penicillin, it’s symbolic,” she said.
“I am so passionate about it. All the ingredients are donated by local businesses, members of the community and everything is made with love.
“I am sure people can taste the love.
“We are also uniting communities with Jewish penicillin.
“We provide to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
“We don’t say no to anyone.
“We provide for elderly people who haven’t got much family or friends around; but also grieving relatives and people in high-risk groups.”
Supported by her friend Lesley Adams, and Jules Katz and Lauren Reuben in London, her team of volunteers include children who help portion out the fruit pots and write colourful personalised messages to recipients.
But now, with lockdown restrictions beginning to lift – she is worried about the initiative’s future.
With her own business to run, she noted that many volunteers will also “start going back to work”.
She is in talks with food charity Gift to see if the ‘Made With Love’ chicken soup initiative can continue.
“We have let people know that we have to stop it and they are heartbroken.
“I know how much it means to people.
‘We have developed a special relationship with recipients who wait for it every week.
“If someone would take it on it would be good; but I hope it stays personal.”
She has perfected her recipe but, as a vegetarian, cannot taste it.
She said: “The recipe was from my mum, but I developed it. Normally chicken soup has a lot of fat, but I cut all that off and add turmeric to make it healthier.
“I am Israeli so I love cooking anyway; but if I never see chicken soup again it won’t be too soon.”
Aged 57, Mrs Davis moved to the UK in 1985 from her home near Haifa. A mother of three, with two grandchildren, she lives in Essex and is a member of Loughton Synagogue.