mains, soups

southeast asian chicken soup

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Every culture has their version of grandma's chicken soup, mostly great, albeit a little bland.  Which is mostly what you want and need when you crave chicken soup.  Most of the time. But this bowl of comfort also manages to be pretty exciting.  And clean and healthy because that's what we are rocking right now.

There are too ways to get to a flavorful broth. One: I roasted a chicken last night that I had slathered with green curry paste.  I carved it and we ate it all.  This morning, I took the carcass, covered it with water in a large pot and add some stalks of lemongrass that I beat up a little (with the butt of a cleaver) to get the juices flowing and a couple of large pieces of ginger.  After simmered and removing any "scum" that came to the surface for a few hours, I strained out the carcass and passed the broth through a fine mesh sieve. This is the delicious lemongrassy, gingery base for my soup.  Two: If you didn't roast a chicken last night, you can achieve nearly the same by steeping some chicken broth with the lemongrass, ginger and maybe a little soy or fish sauce for about 30 minutes over low heat. Pass it through a fine mesh strainer and your broth is ready.

I would have used the leftover chicken in the soup but, as I mentioned, it was all gone. Instead I poached two chicken breasts with a little lemongrass and thai basil.  I used some favorite egg noodles but you can certainly substitute rice noodles or even matzoh balls.

Cook the noodles in a separate pot and let everyone make up their own bowl, adding spice or herbs, whatever they want.  I like to set out some bean sprouts, mint, thai basil, sriracha, soy, lime wedges, etc.

southeast asian chicken soup

for the broth:

a few stalks of lemongrass, bruised and roughly cut into 2-3 pieces

about 3" of ginger, cut into 2-3 pieces

2 quarts of (asian flavored) chicken broth

olive oil

1/2 c onion, chopped

1/2 c celery, chopped

1/2 c carrots, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1-2 bird chilies, seeded and diced (optional)

a few drops of sriracha

soy and fish sauce to taste

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add in the vegetables.

Saute for a few minutes on low heat to get a little color on the onions and soften the celery and carrots. Add in the broth, heat through and adjust for seasonings with the soy and fish sauces and maybe even a little sriracha to your liking.  Add in the chicken and you are ready to go.

for the chicken:

2 chicken breasts, poached (or leftover cooked chicken)

2 cups water

1-2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised and cut into 2-3 pieces (optional)

handful of thai basil

In a smallish pan, fit two breasts.  Cover with water and add aromatics. Boil and then reduce to a simmer, covering partly or with a fitted piece of parchment with a small hole in the center, and cook for about 8 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the chicken rest in the water for about 20 minutes.  Drain and slice.

egg noodles (cooked and drained)

ideas for garnishes:

bean spouts

diced, seeded chilis

torn mint and thai basil leaves

lime wedges

soy sauce

To assemble the soup, put some noodles in a bowl, ladle over some broth and finish with whatever garnished you choose.