Friday, October 24, 2014

Eats: Vietnamese-Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Hello! When anyone in my household has a cold, I'm sure to make the Vietnamese-Style Chicken Noodle Soup recipe from Doris Janzen Longacre's More-With-Less Cookbook.

Well, I'm the one with the cold this week, so time to get out the soup kettle. I'll give the recipe as written in the cookbook first, followed by my shortcut version. 

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Noodle Soup (from More-With-Less Cookbook, recipe attributed to Janet Friesen of Seattle, WA)

In large kettle, cook until tender:

1 chicken, or 2-3 pounds bony pieces
2 1/2 quarts water
1/2 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (I've never used this)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (I add more)
salt and pepper to taste (I don't add the salt)

Remove chicken; skin and bone it. Return meat to broth and keep at simmer. Cook separately until tender:

1 1/2 pounds thin spaghetti (I use less, but amount is up to you)

Drain spaghetti when done. 

To serve, fill individual soup bowls with cooked spaghetti. Add hot broth with chicken. Sprinkle over each bowl:

1-2 tablespoons chopped green onions (they do add flavor, but I make the soup anyway even if I don't have this ingredient on hand)

Each person may add, to taste:

chopped red pepper or Tabasco, soy sauce, freshly ground black pepper. 

I also add sesame oil, just because I like the taste of it, and toss the cooked spaghetti with a little sesame oil after draining it - keeps the spaghetti from sticking together. And instead of Tabasco sauce, I use Sriracha sauce. 

As for the shortcut version, not only did I have a bad cold, we also had a flooring guy laboriously installing a new kitchen floor. He did a great job, but his meticulousness meant a very late start to dinner. Fortunately, I had some packets of cooked chicken already in the freezer (from a recipe found HERE), and I made the broth from a jar of Tone's Chicken Base (Tone's is a Sam's Club brand). A broth thus made is higher in sodium than one made from an actual chicken would be, but that's the breaks sometimes. 

The chicken base broth is much quicker to make, of course - all I had to do was bring the water, chicken base, garlic and pepper to a boil, toss in the cooked chicken (I used two cups) and let it simmer while I cooked the spaghetti. And as soon as the spaghetti was cooked, the soup was ready to serve! We stuck to the American-style way of using forks for the spaghetti; no chopsticks for us. 

Cookbook author Longacre notes: "Janet learned to make this soup from Vietnamese students attending Goshen College, Goshen, Ind. While it originates in a tropical climate, the peppery broth is equally good for warming up on cold nights. Make nothing else and eat two bowlfuls." 

My notes: it's also equally good as comfort food when you're suffering from a cold or other respiratory illnesses. Load your bowl up with as much hot sauce as you can stand to clear up that congestion! Leftovers heat well, especially if you store the broth and the spaghetti in separate refrigerator containers.

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