As winter nears, what can be more comforting than a bowl of chicken noodle soup? However, you may feel a little tired of the usual one with celeries and carrots. If that's the case, here is just the recipe for you: a fabulous fusion of Chinese, French and Californian flavors.
The ingredients are simple. For two people, I would suggest:
- half a pound of skinless and boneless chicken thigh meat, sliced or diced
- a small pack of fresh linguni or Asian noodles from any market
- Shanghai wine sauce (called zao-lu，糟卤 in Chinese) or rice wine
- herbs de Provence, available in shakers at Whole Foods and some Safeway stores
- minced or ground ginger
- half a head of cabbage or Napa cabbage, chopped
- 15 to 20 mushrooms, sliced
- olive oil
- several pieces of kale and some shredded carrots for garnish
The best thing about this soup is the tenderness of the chicken. Meats in soups generally taste dry, NOT the case with Shanghai-style noodle soups though, because a Shanghai cook separates the meat from the soup at first, stir-fry the meat and then place it on top of the cooked noodle soup while serving. This is what we are going to do.
To start, let's use a slow cooker to make the soup with chopped cabbage (preferably Napa cabbage because more juice comes out of it) and sliced mushrooms. If you think the soup must contain chicken, use meatless chicken bones or canned chicken broth. Otherwise this veggie soup will turn out just as good.
You can be away during the hours the slow cooker is working. When you return to the kitchen, marinate the sliced or diced chicken thigh with Shanghai wine sauce—it can be found at some Chinese markets. If not, use rice wine and a pinch of salt instead (the wine sauce would be salty already). Add minced or ground ginger and stir evenly.
Let the marinade sit for about 15 minutes, during which you move the soup from the slow cooker into a pot, bring it to boil and throw in the noodles. Add water if there doesn't seem to be enough soup for the noodles. When the soup boils again, turn off the stove in two minutes and cover the pot with its lid. The heat will stay in the pot to continue softening the noodles and help them absorb the flavor of the soup.
In the meantime, move the marinated chicken meat into a pan, pour in a tablespoon of olive oil, and begin stir frying. Sprinkle herbs de Provence over the meat during the process. Add some more when the pan is sizzling. You will love how it smells then!
Get the noodle soup into your bowl first, and then place the stir-fried chicken meat on top of the noodles. Garnish with a few pieces of kale and some shredded carrots if you like a colorful presentation.
Voila! The Shanghai-meets-Provence dish is done. My husband calls it the best chicken noodle soup he has ever had. Let's see if you agree. Bon appetit!