Sick? Soup!

23 Feb

I have a head cold. Usually that kind of thing doesn’t bother me too much. Pick up some NyQuil, a few cough drops, replace my morning coffee with some honey-laden tea and in a few days feel good as new. This particular head cold however has some seriously staying power, it’s been around for two weeks and I’m starting to get a little bit pissy about it. Anywhoo, this is a blog about food not winning so… to the kitchen.

When I think sick, I think soup and I’ve been downing a lot of it. However my made-by-mother freezer supply is running low so I finally dragged myself to the grocery to make my own. One of my favorite soups of all time is this spicy Asian version I used to get from a to-go place around the corner from the little shop I worked in through high school and college. It featured thick rice noodles, big chunks of chicken, and generous helpings of cilantro, bean sprouts and spicy red peppers. Warm, fresh tasting, spicy and filling seemed to be just what the doctor ordered so I decided to take a stab at recreating it.

My local Safeway, joining forces with my nose, seemed to have it out for me and was out of rice noodles and those little spicy red peppers. Undeterred I grabbed some ramen and a jalapeño and got cooking. I made the broth out of about 6 cups store bought chicken stock, infused with ginger, garlic and a generous handful of chopped cilantro stems. (Side Note: If you have homemade stock use it, if you have time make it!) I let this all simmer away for about an hour then strained it, removing the garlic cloves, stems and ginger and returning the broth to the pot.

Next I threw in two finely sliced shallots and two chicken breasts cut into half inch cubes. As the chicken cooked through (about 4 minutes) I added my ramen and one very thinly sliced jalapeño. With the ramen and the chicken cooked I portioned my self out a bowl of steamy goodness and finished it off by stirring in a teaspoon of Thai fish sauce, a squirt of soy, a little Sriracha, and garnished it with a heaping handful of green onion cilantro and bean sprouts.

Feel Better? I do!

How was the soup? It did the trick: warm, spicy and yummy, but it was not perfect. The version I was trying to replicate tasted much fresher and was plenty spicy with out the extra Siriacha kick mine required. I also definitely would have preferred the rice noodles to ramen. In a pinch however, it made this patient feel a little less dreadful. Mission accomplished.

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

(Adapted from Spicy Chicken Soup, Gourmet, May 2004)

6 cups chicken stock
1 inch piece fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup cilantro stems
2 large shallots, thinly sliced (1/4 cup)
3/4 lb skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2- by 1/4-inch strips
1 to 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno
½ cup bean sprouts
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves

Bring stock to a simmer in a large saucepan with garlic, ginger and cilantro stems. Simmer for 1 hour, until flavors infuse then strain the stock, removing the solids and return the stock to a simmer. Add shallots and simmer 3 minutes. Add chicken and simmer until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Add noodles and jalapeno and cook till noodles are al dente, about 5 minutes. Stir in fish sauce (to taste) and soy sauce. Remove from heat and serve topped with scallions, cilantro and bean sprouts. Add Sriracha for a little extra heat.


One Response to “Sick? Soup!”

  1. Betsy March 9, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    I wonder where you learned to cook so internationally? The Food Network?

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