Chicken, Ginger, Chile and Noodle Soup
Cook: In a Class of Your Own
by Richard Bertinet
Mrs. B doesn't cook very often, but there are a few favorites that she turns out from time to time. This one usually makes an appearance after a period of overindulgence—perhaps in the new year or after we return from vacation. It is such a quick, easy soup that is also a perfect lesson in putting together flavors. The quantities are fairly loose because it really doesn't matter whether you have lots of noodles or bean sprouts, or just a handful, and the quantity of Chile you put in is entirely up to you, too. It is also a great thing to make on a Monday night after you have had roast chicken on Sunday. You can boil up the carcass to make the stock and shred any leftover chicken meat into the soup. Alternatively, you could put in some shrimp rather than chicken. Preferably, use raw shrimp and add them with the rest of the Ingredients. If you use cooked ones, add them only at the very last minute or they will overcook and become rubbery. To make it more of a meal, add some Chinese leaves or bok choi (chopped) just before you put in the noodles. People seem to love or hate cilantro—there is no in-between—which is why I suggest substituting Thai basil if you can find it and prefer it.
INGREDIENTS (For 4-6)
• good handful of cooked chicken (or raw, peeled shrimp)
• 1-2 red or green chiles
• small knob of fresh ginger
• 1 stick of lemongrass
• 1 shallot
• 1 quart chicken stock (or fish stock, if you are using shrimp, or 1 package miso soup dissolved In 1 quart water)
• 1 small bag of bean sprouts
• 1 package of thin, dried wheat noodles (or any other noodle of your choice— we sometimes have rice noodles or udon noodles)
• handful of cilantro (or you can use Thai basil, if you can find it)
• lime quarters, to serve
• Shred the chicken.
• Split the chiles lengthwise and scoop out the membrane and seeds if you don't want the soup to be too hot.
• Peel the ginger and chop very finely.
• Remove the hard outer layers of the lemongrass, so you are left with the tender stem. Chop very finely.
• Finely slice the shallot.
Heat up the stock in a large pan. Add the chicken (or shrimp), chiles, ginger, lemongrass, and bean sprouts and simmer tor a couple of minutes. Add the noodles and continue to simmer for another 2-3 minutes until the noodles are just soft. Shred the cilantro or basil with a sharp knife, scatter it over the soup, and serve. Let everyone squeeze in their own lime juice.