When I'm battling a cold, a bowl of Campbell's just won't do. The mushy noodles and microscopic pieces of chicken are no match for the rhinovirus. I prefer to wage a three-pronged attack. First, chicken broth - we're all familiar with its healing properties. Second, copious amounts of vitamins and nutrients - at least one green vegetable, one red, and one orange and enough garlic to repel the vampires from all three of the Twilight movies. Third, spice - nothing opens the sinuses like ginger and chili.
This soup can be adapted based on whatever happens to be in your fridge and pantry. You could add mushrooms, bean sprouts, asparagus or spinach, substitute tofu instead of chicken, rice instead of noodles, and almonds or peanuts instead of cashews. If you don't have red chili paste, use a bit of tomato paste and up the quantity of chili, coriander, lime and lemongrass. We often use one of those whole cooked chickens from the grocery store instead of raw chicken and save the leftovers for making stock. It's also important to taste the broth as you cook. You may need to adjust your seasonings as chilies can vary in their level of spice and every brand of stock will differ in saltiness.
Makes 8-10 servings
1 tbsp grape seed oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 red chili, minced
2 stalks of lemongrass
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp Thai red chili paste
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 medium carrots, grated
1 red pepper, julienned
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 litre chicken broth or stock
1 litre water (or another litre of chicken stock)
1 can coconut milk
4 chicken thighs, cooked and shredded
1/3 package enoki mushrooms (about a handful)
2 handfuls snow peas
3 oz soba or rice noodles
2 baby bok choy, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp cashews, roughly chopped
Clean and prep all the vegetables ahead of time so that they're ready to add to the soup as needed. For the lemongrass, use only the bottom 2-3 inches of the stalk, the roots and tops can be discarded. Peel away the outer layers and mince the layers inside.
Warm the oils in a large pot. Saute the lemongrass and chili on medium-high heat for a few seconds, then add the onion, garlic, ginger, chili paste, and coriander. Saute for 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the carrot, pepper and half the lime zest and saute for another minute. Add the chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer. Test the seasonings, you'll probably need to add a generous pinch of salt and a grating of pepper. You can also increase the spiciness if desired by adding more ginger or chili. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat to let the flavours merge.
Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Add the shredded chicken, mushrooms, and snow peas. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then add the bok choy and noodles. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer or until the noodles are tender. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve in soup bowls and garnish with chopped cashews.