Thursday, January 26, 2012

Asian Chicken Soup

My brother-in-law Paul (PJ) has his own blog (homegrowncooking) and just posted a kick-ass Thai-inspired noodle dish, which got me to thinking about something I normally whip up with leftover store-bought roasted chicken and lower-sodium chicken broth.  Since everything except for the vegetables is already cooked, it's actually a pretty quick hot meal.

The recipe below was adapted from one I found in Food & Wine magazine.  Theirs was a simplified version of a chef-conceived Vietnamese chicken-rice soup, which was just that--chicken and rice.  I wanted to make it more nutritious and interesting, so this is what I came up with. 

Happy Chinese New Year, folks!

2 Tb olive or grapeseed oil
1-2 Tb each of finely chopped garlic and ginger
up to 1 Tb of Urban Accents Thai Garden spice mix (if you can get it, they don't make it anymore)--feel free to use any Asian seasoning you like
2 Tb fish sauce (or more to taste)
1 Tb sesame oil
1 c shredded, grated or julienned carrots
2 c fresh spinach leaves, washed
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 c thinly sliced cooked chicken meat
6-8 c lower-sodium chicken broth
lime wedges
white or brown rice for serving
1 small chili, finely minced
red pepper flakes
1/2 c shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted if dried, thinly sliced
2-3 finely chopped green onions
1 c snow peas, sliced thin diagonally, steamed

Heat oil in a large pot (at least 4 qt).  Gently brown garlic and ginger, plus chili if using.  Sprinkle Thai seasoning into pan and allow to cook for about one more minute.  Add chicken broth, fish sauce, sesame oil and carrots, and bring to a boil.   Lower heat and simmer for about ten minutes.  At that time, add chicken meat and spinach; simmer until spinach is wilted, about 5-7 minutes.  Take off heat and ladle into bowls over rice.  Add mushrooms and snow peas, if desired; garnish with cilantro leaves and juice from lime wedges.

Note: If you're not serving this to a picky eater, you can feel free to add the mushrooms and snow peas right into the soup.  If you are serving it to picky eaters, have those items in separate bowls so everyone can add them--or not.  Your favorite Asian-style noodles would also make a good substitute for the rice.  Those who like a richer broth can feel free to add some dry white wine, or the juices from the roasted chicken if you use a store-bought one.