Thursday, March 08, 2012

gingery chicken and bok choy soup

By Julie

I've never made like a regular old chicken soup. I had a Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul book that my mom gave me that I never read because I was waaayyy too cool in high school to read that (I am still too cool to read any of those books. And anything by Mitch Albom, BARF - I know that because I was forced to read one of his books for a class and I railed into the teacher for a) liking it and b) making me read it). Sorry mom. My mom doesn't even read my blog. I'm like the only blogger in the world whose mom doesn't read her kid's blog. I don't think she likes my recipes. Or I'm boring. Or both. Or she still feels bad that I didn't read Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. I am at least fairly confident that she would think Mitch Albom is schlock, too.
Speaking of books, Joe got me a Nook for Christmas. I went bonkers and started reserving all this e-crap on the Denver Library's site and then all of a sudden it all became available at the same time. I downloaded them all, so I'm frantically trying to read through them one at a time so that I don't have to wait another two months for any of them to become available again. I'm reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I have no idea why. I only kind of somewhat liked the first half of the first book. But for some reason I feel compelled to finish them. I don't know how many more times I can take the author lasciviously describe Lisbeth Salander as anorexic. At least he seems to have dropped the whole trying to shock us with how pierced and tattooed and punkgoth she is (what is this 1993? ooohhhh goths! piercings!!). But that might be because she's indisposed in a hospital bed right now. Sigh. What am I doing to myself? I could be reading Blood, Bones, and Butter. I think this might be my favorite movie review in a long time.
This is the closest I've gotten to a chicken soup, in a brothy, veggie-filled kind of way. It's more than I could have hoped for. I always imagine chicken soup to be super plain and rather anemic. This is so gingery, cilantro-y, and full of big chunks of shredded chicken and gobs of boy choy. It's delightful. I'm not sick, and I hope to not be for the rest of winter (and spring and summer and fall and...), but I can't imagine a better soup to eat when you're sick. And not sick, for that matter. I kept getting the damn tupperware out of the fridge and eating more. This soup could be a good starting point for additions or modifications. You could make it a fish soup, boiling fish or shrimp in the same manner as the chicken - with skin/shells and bone to add flavor and nutrition to the broth. You could also change some veggies, depending on what you have or feel like using. You could add coconut milk! But it's pretty awesome as is.
gingery chicken and bok choy soup
serves about 8

1 large bunch fresh cilantro
2-3 inches ginger root, peeled and minced
1 whole chicken, about a 3 pounder
1 bunch of scallions, divided
1 serrano pepper, sliced crosswise
10 cups water
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 bunch bok choy, big pieces cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal (you know, cause it's fun to be fancy)
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari (or coconut aminos or whatever your salty fermented liquid preference is)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
4 teaspoons rice vinegar

1. Chop the bunch of cilantro in half at roughly the base of the leaves. Coarsely chop the leaves, setting aside, and coarsely chop the stems.

2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine cilantro stems, ginger, all but two scallions, pepper, chicken, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

3. Remove the chicken and place in a bowl to cool just a bit. Place a small-holed colander in a large bowl and pour in the broth to strain it. Discard the solids and pour the broth back in the pot. (Although I have this thought to purée the solids and adding them to the soup. Try it and let me know, thanks.)

4. Add remaining ingredients to the broth and bring back to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until carrots are tender.

5. Meanwhile, remove skin and bones from chicken and discard. Coarsely shred the meat and add back to the pot to rewarm along with about half of the reserved cilantro leaves. Adjust seasonings if you want.

Slice the remaining two scallions and sprinkle on top of the soup. You can put more cilantro on top if you love it, like me.
This was originally posted at my blog, the crankin' kitchen!

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