Monday, 22 April 2013

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Our power went out last week during an ice storm.  Fourteen hours without heat or electricity made for an interesting day.  The kids read books and played board games.  We built a fire with very wet wood in our fireplace.  In the winter we take care to have dry wood available for fire building, but that pile was completely used.  Instead there remained an outdoor pile used for summer campfires.  I'm not sure what made me warmer, the fire once built or the sweaty effort of trying to keep the fire going. 

The inability to use electronics was a welcome break for everyone.  I worry our kids use their ipods, play stations and laptops way too much.  It's an ongoing battle for every parent I'm sure, but I sure wish there was an easy solution.  Making strict rules about usage is effective, but it doesn't address the bigger issue of teaching them self control.  As they get older I know this will continue to be an issue and the world is not going to slow down for me to figure it out.  I just hope we are instilling the values they need to succeed in this world.  It is the hardest job in the world.
We made this soup on our gas stove, with ingredients on hand and from memory of the online recipe.  Grocery stores were closed due to the power outage so we had no choice but to improvise.  I had made the stock the day before in the slow cooker so that saved us from lack of power.  Even under these circumstances, it was quite easy to make.  Just imagine how simple it will be with power.  Making the broth and chicken ahead of time means this meal will quickly come together on a busy weeknight.  Tastes great served with board games pushed to the side to make room at the table.

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

adapted from Steamy Kitchen

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 whole onion, unpeeled and cut in half
3-inch chunk of ginger, unpeeled
1 stalk lemongrass
2 whole star anise
2 Tbsp sugar
1 carrot
fennel fronds
2 Tbsp fish sauce
generous grind of salt/pepper
cilantro stems, about 1/2 cup

1 pkg soba noodles
cilantro tops – leaves and tender stems
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
2 tsp Hoisin sauce
Make broth:
Preheat broiler of oven.  Place onion and ginger under broiler until blackened and charred, turning often.  About 10-15min.  Remove skin from onion and ginger when cool.
In a slow cooker, combine onion, ginger, carrot, lemongrass, sugar, fennel fronds, cilantro stems and fish sauce.  Cook on low overnight (about 8-10hrs).  Strain through fine mesh strainer and reserve.
Cook chicken:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with tin foil.  Place chicken on rack over foil and bake about 20min. Remove and slice thinly.  Reserve.
Cook soba:
In a medium pot, fill with water and bring to a boil.  Cook noodles according to instructions (mine took 5min).  Strain and reserve.
Assemble soup:
In a large pot bring broth to almost boiling.  Add sriracha and hoisin sauce.  In each bowl place soba noodles, shredded chicken, carrots and cabbage.  Top with hot broth and allow to sit about 1min before serving.  Sprinkle cilantro on top.  Enjoy!

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