I haven’t posted a couple of days, but it’s not because I was neglecting you my friends, I just didn’t want to bore you to tears with the mush I have eaten. You see, last Sunday I came down with a severe tooth ache, and all I have eaten is porridge like stuff, or yogurt, or mashed potatoes. I mean, I assume you didn’t want a post on how to make oatmeal. Naaaaah. So, I kind of got tired of the blandness, and once my tooth started feeling better, I decided to venture on something a little more consistent, like a noodle soup. But, I was craving taste, and something different, so I picked up this copy of Fine Cooking magazine that I had lying around, and they had this amazing noodle soup on the cover.
I have to admit, this is easy, but it has a lot of steps to it. So, to further ease the process, I changed up the recipe a little, like instead of cooking my chicken breasts, I bought a roast chicken and used them. Also, since I love mushrooms, I added a bit more shiitake than called for, and it gave the broth more depth and flavour, it was more umami.
This soup is a cross between Vietnamese Pho and Japanese Udon, and the combination works. I love the acidity of the lime juice, paired with the earthiness of the shiitake. And who doesn’t love fresh cilantro and chilies? (Yes, a lot of people, I know.)
The subtle aftertaste of lemongrass was divine, and every two bites or so you would get this bit of basil. I really cannot wait to make this again. It is going to be a staple in my kitchen this winter!
So here’s what you’re going to need:
Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Apr/May 2010
2 1/2 tbsp canola oil
2 small boneless chicken breasts, butterflied (or use the chicken breast of a roast chicken, or any other pre-cooked chicken you have leftover)
3 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers discarded , halved lengthwise, and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife.
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
2 tsp packed light brown sugar
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered ( I used dry, and added 3 cups, presoaked in boiling water for 20 minutes.)
9 oz. udon noodles
1 Thai bird chili (or 1 small Serrano pepper) sliced into thin rings
8 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 medium lime, half juiced, and half cut into wedges ( I used three… I love me some lime!)
1 tbsp soy sauce, more to taste
2 medium scallions, trimmed and sliced for garnish
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks, for garnish
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
If you are using the uncooked chicken breast, heat a dutch oven over medium high heat,add the oil and add the chicken breasts and cook until browned on each side and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool, and when cool to the touch, shred it with a fork or your fingers. If you have leftovers, just omit the step and get to shredding!
If there isn’t enough oil left over, add a little more and then add the shallots to the pot. Sprinkle with salt, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the shallots begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the ginger and lemongrass sizzle and become fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and shiitake, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and raise the heat to medium high. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Then turn off heat and let it sit for a while, so the flavours meld.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of well salted water to a boil and cook the noodles, stirring, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander and run under cold water to cool slightly. Drain well.
When you are ready to eat, heat the soup up again, add the chicken and noodles to the broth and cook until the noodles are completely tender, about 2 minutes. Discard the lemongrass. Stir in the chilies, torn basil, lime juice, and soy sauce; season with more soy to taste. Divide noodles among 4 large, deep bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles and garnish with the scallions, carrot, and cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges for squeezing. Slurp away!
From my kitchen to yours,