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Thursday, January 15, 2015

RECIPE: Chicken soup

Recently I've been cooking more often than I'm used to. And the most cooking I'd typically do would be to stir-fry a bunch of veggies (or more often than not, mushrooms) and make it into a pasta or into some kind of lunchbox-friendly mash.

And typically, it'd involve just boiling/steaming potatoes and/or eggs, then mixing them with some stir-fried mushrooms, maybe? The most complicated thing I made for myself was a pumpkin miso cream sauce pasta, I think.

However, in the recent days, I find myself making shopping lists for the morning market and planning meals for my SO. Apart from my miso chicken (which he likes), most of my other cooking ventures have been hit-and-miss (mostly miss).

The stuff I made revolves around chicken (breast meat, particularly) and miso - my two weapons within the kitchen... kind of... And for the past few times, the food was saved mostly by my SO's more advanced cooking skills (and standards for seasoning).

Today's venture... was also partially saved by him. I made the soup particularly for him, so I asked him to taste it - lack of saltiness, and so he suggested some soy sauce.

Reason why I opted for chicken soup was because I'm more familiar working with chicken, and I read that chicken soup was good for reducing phlegm. And what is more nutritious and warming than a good bowl of homemade, MSG-free chicken soup? I added radish because it's helps clear the lungs (according to another internet article, and because there was still half a radish in the fridge).

Ingredients (makes about 4 Chinese rice bowls of soup, or about 4 smaller servings):
  • 2 pieces of chicken (preferably thigh, bone in and skin on)
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • approx. 5-inch block of radish/daikon, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered (around the same size as the carrots and radishes)
  • 2 stalks celery, washed and chopped into approx. 4-inch lengths
  • 7 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • 4 small-medium-sized eryngii mushrooms, split down the center and cut into diagonal chunks
  • pinch of black pepper (best if you can get your hands on some whole black peppercorns, gently crushed)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • enough water to cover everything in the pot

To make: (no photos~)
  1. Place the chicken and veggies into the pot (excluding the mushrooms), and add enough water to just cover everything. Sprinkle on the black pepper/black peppercorns. Put the lid on and heat on medium heat until boiling. You can add a bay leaf or other herb flavors if you like.
  2. Once boiling, turn to the lowest possible heat and simmer for 2-3 hours. You can skim off any oil or scum that floats on the surface if you like.
  3. After 2-3 hours, add the soy sauce and miso paste (spoon the miso paste into a small bowl and dilute with some of the soup before adding into the pot). Stir gently, then add the mushrooms, pushing them down into the soup gently.
  4. Simmer for another hour or so - the longer you cook it, the more flavor there will be. However, if you're using miso, be careful to not overheat or overcook it, as miso loses its flavor easily.
  5. Turn off the heat and leave covered on the stove for about another 1-2 hours (completely optional, but I'm paranoid).
  6. Fish out the chicken and veggies, covering them to keep them warm. Strain the soup if you wish (gets rid of overcooked veggie bits and scum, leaving a clearer soup).
  7. Arrange the veggies and chicken in a bowl, then ladle over the soup and enjoy!

I got the basic recipe for chicken soup from multiple sources - Sorted Food,, etc. The typical recipes called for chicken, carrots, onions, and celery. I would have used leek, but I couldn't find any larger leeks at my local morning market. And I also added radishes for good measure.

For serving, I discarded the celery. The onion takes longer to soften than the carrot and radishes, so if you're not going to cook it for that long, maybe you could opt for smaller pieces of onion.

You could use this as a noodle soup base too, I guess. It was good enough on its own though... He was a bit skeptical at first when I just added the miso, soy sauce, and mushrooms (I am surrounded by people with exceptionally sensitive olfactory and taste senses). But after cooking for longer, the raw chicken taste cooked out, and the flavors of the seasonings and veggies got some time to get along and socialize.

Hope this was interesting enough to be helpful as well (what am I even talking about...)!

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