Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle

soup with carrots, chicken, noodles and Asian flavors

I’ve made a version of this soup before.  This Asian Chicken Noodle has a little more kick and depth of flavor from cooking the chicken in the pot first.  But like most soups, anyone can adapt it to whatever their personal tastes are or what needs to be used up in the pantry.  It’s a good soup to make when you are feeling a little down from holiday stresses.  Right now, everyone, it seems has a cold.  I had a lingering sore throat for weeks.  Hoarse every night after projecting my voice in the school lunchroom ( read: shouting).  It wasn’t until after I took the advice from a colleague to employ the old school treatment of gargling multiple times a day with warm salt water that I was finally cured.  Of course, the soup helped by soothing my throat and warming up my aching bones with its spicy notes of ginger, Sriracha and Thai red curry.  Whatever your December malaise or Holiday woe, this zippy soup will be sure to pick you up so that you can keep going.

 

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

water

1 red pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

8 cups chicken broth

1 chunk of fresh ginger (about 2 inches)

4 teaspoons Sriracha

1/4  cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice (from about 1 lime)

4 teaspoons red curry paste

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

3 oz. uncooked wide rice noodles (flat)

garnishes: grated fresh carrot, cilantro, lime wedges, Sriracha, green onions

Season chicken on both sides with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Heat a large soup pot on medium high.  Add the oil.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken.  Allow to sear on one side until the chicken releases from the pan.  Flip the chicken and sear for another 4-5 minutes until the second side releases from the pan.  Add 3 tablespoons-1/3 cup water to the bottom of the pan to loosen chicken bits and juices.  Turn heat to simmer, cover and cook chicken for 10 minutes, until just cooked through.  Remove chicken and juices to a dish and cover with tin foil.  

Add peppers to soup pot.  Turn heat back to medium high.  Saute peppers until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken broth and all seasonings through cider vinegar.  Shred chicken and add back to pot along with any accumulated juices.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add 6 cups of water to a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Add rice noodles.  Cook 3 minutes, then drain.  Place about 1/4 cup-1/2 cup of rice noodles in each serving bowl.

Taste soup and adjust seasonings.  Ladle soup over each noodle serving.  Serve with garnishes on side.

 

Southwestern Chicken Soup

soup with chicken, cheese and southwestern flavors

I really wanted to make chicken tortilla soup.  A hearty tomato based soup thickened with tortilla chips.  Filling and you guessed, it fattening.  But oh so delicious!  After doing a little internet research snuggled up with my cup of coffee and my phone early one  morning, I came across The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup.  No tortillas or taco chips in it.  Huh?  What do I know about Southwestern cooking, anyway?  Not much, except that I like it.  And I liked her basic list of ingredients, most of which I used in the recipe below.  But I forgot to put it in the slow cooker. Or I didn’t have enough time to do it in the morning before I left for work.  Still the recipe I came up with didn’t take long, at all.  And I preferred that I browned the chicken first.

I gave the soup to my soup ladies and they all loved it…especially that it was much lower in calories than what I usually make.  I ate all the leftovers myself, adorning each bowl with the entire list of suggested garnishes.  When there was only a tiny amount left, I poured it on a pile of tortilla chips and pretended that it was a plate of fancy nachos.  Whatever your taste, however you decorate your bowl, this recipe is a winner.

 

Southwestern Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 taco seasoning pouch, I use McCormick

1 medium sized onion, diced

1 red pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 4 oz. can diced green chilis

4 oz. tomato paste

3 cups chicken stock

1 chili in adobo, chopped

2 16 oz. cans black beans

salt and pepper

garnishes:

lime wedges, sour cream, grated cheddar, diced jalapeno, cilantro, tortilla chips

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Coat chicken breasts with taco seasoning and add to pot.  Cook until chicken is browned on both sides.  Lower heat and add diced onion and remaining taco seasoning.  Stir to combine.  Cover pot and allow onions to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add chopped peppers, chili powder and cumin.  Stir to combine and cook uncovered for up to ten minutes until the peppers begin to soften and spices are fragrant.  Add tomatoes, green chilis, tomato paste, chicken stock and chili in adobo.  Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.  

Remove chicken from soup and shred with forks into large pieces.  Add the chicken back to the pot.  Drain and rinse black beans and add to soup.  Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.  Serve with garnishes.

 

 

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

 

butternut squash soup with Sriracha and chives

The texture of pureed butternut squash lends itself well to a creamy soup.  The bright colors are welcome in late fall when the yellow, orange and red leaves begin to turn brown.  To add extra spice, add a few drops of sriracha.  Fresh chives and a dollop of sour cream make the soup a bit more decadent and turn a weeknight meal into something special.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a raging wind storm late on a Sunday night that left half the town without power for 2 days.  Thankfully, the weather was warm enough so that people did not need heat, but refrigerators were filled with groceries for the week and school children feared that Trick or Treating might be cancelled if the electric company didn’t get it all back on before sundown on October 31st.

Huge branches and entire trees littered front lawns, broke through fences, landed on garages and smashed car roofs.  We were lucky.  There is an old, dead tree that grew touching our picket fence just about 12 feet from the front of the house and managed to circle its branches around the power line that connects us to civilization.  It did not come down in this nor’easter. But that storm was enough to scare me into action.

Since I did not want our luck to run out, I called my dad, the master of tree cutting and the family expert on electrical wires. (He is a retired lineman from the local electric company.)  The tree cutting was scheduled for Saturday so that Rob could help out.  Everyday from Monday through Friday, I found my dad outside my house, looking upward, looking at the tree from across the street, leaning back on the fence in the angle of the tree growth, being one with the tree.  Each day when I asked him if he wanted some coffee or if I could do anything to help, he waved me on as if to say, “Nothing to see here.”  He was deep in thought, calculating, planning.  This was not a task for the faint of heart.

When Saturday finally came, I was so stressed out about the project, I had to leave.  I made up errands to run, excuses not to be there.  I had faith in my dad, but the chainsaw and ladder combination scared the crap out of me. I also didn’t want to be around if the tree decided to come down on my roof and rip to wires out with it.

As luck and mother nature would have it, tree cutting day was especially raw and cold with enough wind to whip through multiple layers and freeze your ears and fingertips.  I was glad I had some of this soup on hand.  I heated it up, called the guys in for a lunchtime break, then got in my car and headed far away until the whole thing was over.

I found out days later that my dad envisioned taking out (and possibly demolishing) part of my fence, a necessary casualty in his mind.  But my mother stepped in and lectured him.  She knew that I had faith in his master of tree cutting.  I am glad to report only one picket popped off and the tree is now a stack of perfectly split wood awaiting my dad’s wood stove to heat his shop this winter.

 

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

salt

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into cubes

4 cups chicken stock, plus more, if needed

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2-3 dashed Worcestershire sauce

1 chili in adobo, chopped

1 16 oz. container sour cream

1 hand full fresh basil, chopped

Add the onion, olive oil and 2 large pinches of salt to a large soup pot set over medium low heat.  Stir to combine.  Cover pot and cook, stirring onion occasionally until it is very soft, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the squash.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock, ginger, turmeric, pepper and nutmeg.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook for another 20 minutes.  Add Worcestershire sauce and chili in adobo, stir to combine.

Work in batches and puree soup in a blender.  (You will have to allow it to cool, first.) Or, puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth.  Add sour cream and basil.  Puree to blend but leave some small pieces and specks of basil.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve on a cold night or after a long day of dragging brush in the yard.

 

Cream of Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese Soup

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

School vacation week.  Normally I dread it but I this month, I welcomed slowing down, not having to drive the kids here and there and wake up every morning before dawn to get everything accomplished in a day.  And the kids were actually pretty good, except for Wednesday (Soup delivery day).  Whenever I have something on my agenda that is important to me, I swear they sense it and do everything they can to throw me over the edge of all reason.  That and the fact that they started their day with dentist appointments probably didn’t help, either.  But in spite of all that, me and Punch and Judy managed to get all the soup delivered without killing each other.

Cream of Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese Soup is a few of my customers’ favorite.  Who doesn’t  dream about dunking a crusty piece of homemade bread into warm cream and sharp cheddar cheesy goodness?  I puree the broccoli so according to one of my special customers    ( btw, they are all special), ” I love that it didn’t have big chunks of broccoli so the flavor of the cheddar and the sweetness of the carrots was not “interrupted” by a mouthful of broccoli yet you still get the broccoli flavor.”  I couldn’t have said it better, myself!

Cream of Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese Soup

serves 4-6

6 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup AP flour

2 cups whole milk, warm

3 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

salt and pepper

4 cups broccoli florets (about one large head)

1 large carrot, diced

2 1/2 cups (about 8 oz) grated sharp cheddar cheese (mix yellow and white)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

dash Worcestershire sauce

Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in flour and cook until golden.  Gradually whisk in warm milk until smooth.  Add chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg.  Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to med/low-low and cook uncovered until thickened (about 20 minutes).

Add the broccoli and carrot to the soup mixture.  Simmer until tender (about 20 minutes).  Discard bay leaves.  Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.  Add the grated cheese to the soup and stir until melted.  Add Dijon mustard and Worcestershire.  Stir to combine.  If soup is too thick, add more chicken stock. 

Fresh Chive Butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

dash Tabasco sauce

dash cider vinegar

1 small bunch fresh chives, chopped fine (about 1/4 cup)

Puree butter, salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce and cider vinegar in a Kitchen Aid with paddle attachment.  Add chives.  Combine thoroughly.  Slather on fresh bread and enjoy.

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The Bread

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For the past few weeks, I have been unhappy with the bread that I offer to accompany the soup.  It has been far too dense, not rising enough or doubling itself in size.  I have to admit, I have been using an inferior flour, rather than King Arthur, as I hoped to cut costs.  When I went back to the book (Jim Lahey’s “My Bread”), I learned that not only was I ruining the bread by using a lesser ingredient, but that I was not adding enough water to let the bacteria and yeast do its work.

This week, I not only added extra water (up to 1 2/3 cups) to adequately hydrate the flour and create a loose dough but I also went back to my beloved King Arthur flour.  There really is nothing like it.  In about 18 hours each bowl full of dough was bubbly with yeasty air pockets and fragrant with the sour sent of active cultures.  As I scraped the dough onto my heavily floured board ( I had to keep adding more), I remembered that the stretchy, flarpy, wet dough makes the best soft loaves with just the right amount of chew.  Yes! I thought to myself as I weighed the portions of sticky dough and added more and more flour to keep it from adhering to every surface in sight.  This is exactly what I was shooting for.

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Now that the loaves are baked with golden, crusty exteriors, I actually feel as if the customers who ordered all the preceding soups got a little ripped off especially if they aren’t getting soup this week along with these well risen lovelies.  Well, I guess all I can do is hope that they come back again and that the bread will continue to be as good.

small no knead peasant bread loaves

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I was completely out of control this week.  There was way to much on my calendar, all pretty much my own doing.  But even though I was an overextended lunatic, I managed ( I think, because I am going so fast, that I remember nothing) to make a pretty decent soup.

It all really began last Saturday with the Girl Scout Cookie booth in freezing cold weather outside of Walmart. Selling cookies for four hours with 10 year old girls who constantly complain and ask to use the bathroom really wears me down. Of course, that wasn’t the only item on our agenda for the day which also included Ava and Declan going to their own basketball games, a Girl Scout ice skating event and a birthday party for one of Ava’s friends to top it all off.  Sunday, Monday and Tuesday all were filled with inventory prep and scanning hundreds of pieces of merchandise at BD for me. After spending 9 hours doing that on Monday, I went directly to help Karyn with her “Cup of Life” fundraiser.  After a long day of “beep, beep, beep” then wrangling 7th and 8th graders to serve hot chocolate, behave themselves, stop using their phones, etc.  I was spent and still hadn’t made any part of the soup or mixed the bread dough until I got home at 9:00pm.  There is more for Tuesday and Wednesday, but it’s far too exhausting to relive while writing this post, so I will leave it at that and get on with the recipe.  By the way, I think it came out pretty well as I did get to enjoy it myself on Wednesday night after Ava’s Girl Scout meeting which involved 4th grade girls painting birdhouses, their clothes and getting water and paint just about everywhere except where it was intended.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

serves 4-6

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup grated carrot (about 1 medium)

1/2 cup thinly sliced sugar snap peas

2 teaspoons chili garlic paste

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 (2 inch) piece peeled fresh ginger

3 ounces uncooked rice flour noodles (wide)

1 1/2 cups shredded chicken

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Bread

Ginger Citrus Butter

Bring first eight ingredients to a simmer in a large pot, keep warm. 

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, add rice noodles and cook 3 minutes.  Drain.  Place 1/4-1/2 cup noodles in each bowl.

Discard ginger from simmering broth mixture.  Add chicken, lime juice and vinegar.  Adjust seasonings adding more chili garlic paste to make hotter and/or soy sauce for salt. Fill noodle bowls with broth mixture and garnish with green onions as well as cilantro and mint, if desired.  Serve with fresh Bread and Ginger Citrus Butter (see following recipe).

Ginger Citrus Butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

zest from 1/2 of one lemon, 1/2 of one lime, 1/2 of one orange

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon dried ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve with freshly baked bread. Devour, enjoy.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Monday, February, 3, 2014

Polar Vortex view from the deck
Polar Vortex view from the deck

Here we are in the “Polar Vortex” or as Val would say, “We used to just call it ‘Winter.'” The snow is so heavy and wet that they dismissed the kids early from school.  So much for getting a jump on things. I forgot that I was supposed to pick them up until the school secretary called.  I was already at the bus stop waiting, covered in huge, sloppy flakes and looking like a polar bear.  I had to trudge all the way home, get in my car, scoop up the kids who questioned and complained all the way home.  “Where were you? Did you forget us? Why were you late?” Mother of the year, that’s me.

Anyway, these are good soup days. The weather makes everyone want to order which is great for business but I am afraid my two stock pots won’t hold enough.  320 oz. of soup…10 orders of 32 oz. each.  Yikes!  I am going to be peeling, chopping and roasting vegetables until midnight if I don’t get started.  But first I have to mix the bread dough.  Oh yeah, and the pizza dough if my kids are going to eat tonight.  Thankfully, I already have the Parsley Lemon Butter made and portioned.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This week’s recipe is not without a pretty steep learning curve, which I didn’t realize until I got into it.  First, I bought way too many vegetables: 2 extra butternut squash, 1 extra 5 lb bag carrots.  Actually, I thought this was my only surplus until I tried to puree two stockpots full of roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and squash.  I added about 8 cups of chicken stock to each, thinking that would do the trick to thin it out enough.  The result: 2 stockpots full of vegetable puree ready for the Thanksgiving dinner table, just add a pat of butter.  It was so thick, the spoon bent when I tried to scoop some out. I actually had enough vegetable puree for 640+ ounces of soup.  I guess I’ll freeze it as base for another upcoming soup.

Oh yeah, and the bread this week, did not come out to my liking.  I agonized over it all night and into Wednesday morning.  My angst sent me back to the books, or THE BOOK:  Jim Lahey’s “My Bread”.  Just as I suspected, it’s the flour.  Not enough protein in the cheap stuff. I should have stuck with King Arthur.

But wait, there’s more!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

There must be someone out there who does NOT want me to deliver soups on Wednesdays.  It has snowed on Wednesday for the past 3 weeks!  We got the call at 5:00am, “This is Dr. Bonnie Gifford, Superintendent of schools, due to inclement weather, Falmouth Public Schools will not be in session today.”   AAARGH.  Not only do I have to come up with a new delivery plan, now it involves my two unruly elementary age children: “Punch and Judy”.

After getting stuck in my sister’s driveway for 40 minutes, sliding all over the road in the slush/rain/snow and wearing Ugg boot knockoffs that absorbed water like a sponge, I had about had enough.  By the time I got home and shoveled my own mess of a driveway, took my soaking wet socks off and sat down to document the drama, I had to question myself, “Do I really want to do this every week?” The answer: “Yup.”  Although this week was not without many obstacles, when I see the smiles on  my customers’ faces and I’m singing to Hall ‘n’ Oats while chopping onions in my own kitchen, working my own hours, doing my own thing, I can definitely say, in spite of what the Universe throws at me, it’s worth it.  And the soup came out pretty good, too.

The Recipe:

roasted root vegetable soup seasoned with balsamic vinegar
Roasted Vegetable Soup gets the balsamic treatment

Roasted Vegetable Soup

serves about 4

1 pound carrots, peeled

1 pound parsnips, peeled

1 large sweet potato

1 small butternut squash

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

chopped fresh parsley (1 small handful)

4 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Bread

Lemon Parsley butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash, peel and cut all vegetables to approximately the same size.  Place in even layers on rimmed baking sheets.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until slightly caramelized and soft.  Remove from oven and place into stock pot with chopped parsley.  Add chicken stock to pot and puree with an immersion blender until still slightly chunky.  Add more stock for desired consistency.  Heat soup through and add balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce.  Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese, bread and fancy Lemon Parsley Butter (see following recipe).

Lemon Parsley butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

zest from 1/2 of one lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve with freshly baked bread. Eat your heart out, enjoy.