This recipe is not simple.
This recipe is not quick.
This recipe has many steps.
This recipe has many ingredients.
But what’s a girl to do when her favorite noodle soup restaurant shuts down without so much as a fare-thee-well and she is in serious danger of going through withdrawals?
(You hear that Suki Thai!?! Withdrawals! I got the shakes and everything!)
It’s been over a month since I’ve had any of the warm, spicy, wonderful noodle soup they served at Suki Thai, and I’ve been getting desperate. So, in an act of sheer will power, I dragged myself out of my pit of self-pity and attempted to copy their recipe. It’s pretty close… but not exact mind you. For one thing I don’t have any galangal. In fact, I’m not sure I even know what galangal is.
(It’s a root. It’s similar to ginger. But it’s not ginger. Now we know!)
But the point is it’s pretty close. And for those of you who may have never tasted the brilliant original, I think you’ll find it pretty delicious! And addicting. And I know. I’m eating the leftovers as I write this post. And it’s 9:30 in the morning.
The thing is this soup is a veritable elixir of life. Every time Hubby and I travelled to places where the only foods available to us were beef and deep fried potatoes for days on end, we’d head straight to Suki Thai as soon as we rolled back into Boulder to inhale large, steaming bowls of fresh vegetables, chicken and spicy broth. And we’d immediately feel healthier.
Some people would do Asana Yoga to steam out all the toxins. We chose to eat.
In any case, here are the steps, minus many, many photos. In my desperation I mostly bypassed the camera so I could get to the end result faster.
Start by marinating some chicken (if you choose to use it. You could feasibly make this soup vegan by using vegetable broth and leaving out the chicken. But if you choose to use chicken, marinate it!)
Just dice up a pound of uncooked chicken breast or chicken tenders into 1” pieces. Throw them into a ziplock bag and pour over ¼ cup of dark soy sauce, 2-3 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil then seal up the bag. Smoosh everything up together to mix it well, then refrigerate it for a couple of hours while you make the broth.
Now this broth…this is where it’s at. As your lawyer I advise you to make extra and freeze it for future desperate moments. Lots extra. Trust me on this.
(And I’m just kidding about being your lawyer. I’m not anyone’s lawyer. I’m not a lawyer at all. I’m a trauma tech.)
Start the broth with lots of ginger, scallions, garlic and lemon grass. Peel a 2-3 inch piece of ginger root and slice it into thin coins. Chop 4-6 scallions (1 bunch minus 1 or 2 for toppings later) into 1” pieces. Smash 6-8 cloves of garlic and remove the papery skins. If you are using fresh lemongrass, smash the bottom 3-4 inches of two stems. Or just use a couple of tablespoons of the stuff that comes in a tube.
Heat a large pot over medium heat and pour in a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil. When it’s hot, dump in the prepared aromatics.
Stir this mixture around for 30 seconds or so. Then stick your face over the pot and let it steep in the aroma for a few seconds. This is one of earth’s greatest pleasures.
Now dump in 64 ounces of chicken or vegetable stock and about ¼ cup soy sauce.
(A note on the broth: If you have homemade use it, by all means. But do consider what herbs you put into the stock when you made it. Certain herbs won’t blend very well with these Asian flavors.)
Bring all this gently to a low simmer and keep at a simmer for an hour or two to let all those flavors really steep in. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed, but keep in mind there will be some sauce to top it with so don’t over season it.
Meanwhile, prepare the veggies.
You can use whatever vegetables happen to strike your fancy today. Personally, we like yellow squash, bok choy, carrot, broccoli (or broccolini) and a handful of cherry tomatoes. Hubby also likes mushrooms. I’m trying to like mushrooms. Slice vegetables like carrots or squash into very thin half-moons. Cut the florets off the broccoli so that they are bite-sized. Slice the bok choy about ½“ thick, greens and all. Especially the greens. (Don’t leave the bok choy out. You’ll miss it. You really will. Baby bok choy is especially delicious.) The moral of this story is: Slice or dice or chop everything so that it will cook in the same amount of time as everything else. Then, set all the prepared veggies aside.
Next, make some of this sweet-spicy sauce to serve on the side. This is really the kicker, and you shouldn’t skip it. This is what makes the soup so addicting.
Mix 1 tablespoons of hoisin sauce with ¼ cup soy sauce, 4-5 tablespoons of sriracha, 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar and about 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (if you happen to have some lying around). Top all this off with about a teaspoon of sesame oil and mix it well. Serve it on the side so people can add as much or as little as they prefer.
Next (I told you there were a lot of steps!) prepare a few more toppings. Lots of quartered limes, sliced scallions, fresh basil (thai basil, if you can find it. Otherwise the regular stuff is still delicious. Alas when I made this, I forgot to get any. A travesty. Don’t forget the basil!), and fresh cilantro. And if you are feeling particularly adventurous, some thinly sliced jalapenos or thai chilis, and some fresh bean sprouts.
When you are about ready to eat, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook some rice noodles. Sorry, but there are no specific measurements here. It really depends on how hungry everyone is, and how many people you want to feed, and how much you like rice noodles. Just make sure you undercook ‘em by just a few seconds…so they are still pretty chewy. Otherwise they’ll fall apart in the soup. Strain the rice noodles, run them under some cold water for a few seconds, and divide them among 4-6 bowls (like I said, depending…). If you are only serving two of you and are planning on leftovers, store the noodles separately from the rest of the soup and combine it all at the last minute.
Strain the aromatics out of the broth and discard them. Pour the broth back into a large pot and bring to a boil. Dump in the chicken and the vegetables and bring back to a boil again.
Let this all cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Pour the broth and vegetables over the noodles and let people top it however they want. You can set out some soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame oil…just in case you are feeding someone who doesn’t like spicy food.
(Personally, I prefer lots of lime…like, at least half a lime, and lots of spicy sauce. But that’s just me.)
Before you dive into the sheer bliss that is this soup, stick your nose into the steam and inhale deeply again.
It’s the right thing to do.
This is comfort food. This is good mood food. This is perfection.
Lemongrass Rice Noodle Soup
Makes 4-6 servings
For the chicken:
1 lb. uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken tenders
¼ c. soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons rice vinegar.
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine all ingredients in a ziplock bag. Seal and let marinate for about 2 hours.
For the broth:
64 ounces chicken or vegetable stock
2-3” piece of ginger root, peeled and sliced into thin coins
6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
4-6 scallions (a bunch minus 1-2 for topping), chopped into 1” pieces
2 tablespoons lemongrass paste (or two stems of fresh lemongrass, bottom 3-4 inches smashed)
¼ c. soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Heat a large pot over medium heat and then pour in the vegetable oil. The oil will shimmer when it is hot enough. Dump in the prepared aromatics and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds or until they release their aroma.
Pour in the chicken stock and soy sauce. Allow to simmer for about two hours. Season to taste. Strain out the aromatics before making the rest of the soup.
For the vegetables:
(Use anything you like, but here are some suggestions)
1 yellow squash, sliced into thin half-moons
1 small carrot, sliced into thin half-moons
4 stalks bok choy (or 4 baby bok choy), sliced into 1/2’” pieces
1 c. cherry tomatoes
1 small broccoli crown, florets cut into bite sized pieces (or use broccolini: Cut off the florets and slice the stems diagonally into thin strips.)
Button mushrooms or portabella mushrooms, sliced
Prepare all the vegetables and set aside until ready to finish the soup.
For the Sweet-Spicy Sauce:
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
¼ c. soy sauce
4-5 tablespoons sriracha sauce (or other chili-garlic sauce)
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional but extra delicious!)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
For the toppings:
1 thinly sliced scallions
Fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
Several sliced limes
Sliced jalapenos or thai chilis
Thin rice noodles
Cook according to package directions, run under cold water and divide among bowls.
To make the soup:
Bring the strained broth to a boil. Add in all the prepared veggies and the chicken and bring to a boil again. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are on the tender side of crisp tender. Pour the broth, vegetables and chicken over the cooked rice noodles. Serve with the sauce, the toppings, and other condiments (such as soy sauce, extra hoisin sauce and sesame oil).
Eat and be happy!
(Oh, and also be warned: If you bring the leftovers to work your co-workers will smell it, and it will smell so good it will induce them to get Chinese food for lunch, and you will then crave Chinese food for dinner. It’s a vicious cycle, but soooo worth it!)