I'll be honest, sometimes I struggle with soup. It's never been something I've immediately chosen to eat. Don't get me wrong, I like soup when it's really well done, but I think I hate blitzed vegetable soups when I was growing up because they just tasted like dried veg stock. And that's not nice.
I'm not saying I make my own veg stock - don't be ridiculous (although if I had loads of veg and onions left over then I probably would) - but when I make soup, I try and put a little bit of stock in and let the flavour of the vegetables and spices and other flavour enhancers come through. Otherwise all you can taste is dry celery and that's not fun.
I love going to East Asian restaurants and ordering ramen or pho or whatever it says on the menu (basically I like noodles in broth). The broth is always so rich and flavourful and I love it. It's so comforting, especially at this time of the year. I know that it's probably not as healthy as it seems, but I love it and I could eat it every day through the winter.
Again, at this time of year, soup is a very popular dinner choice. Particularly when people start getting colds and sore throats. A popular choice still is chicken noodle soup. I'm not sick or coming down with anything (yet), but I was really in the mood for chicken noodle soup. The one thing that puts me off is having shredded bits of chicken floating around in my broth. I mean, I will make it like that sometimes, particularly if I'm using chicken breast, but I really would rather bigger pieces of chicken that tells me that yes it is actually chicken I'm eating.
So, inspired by my love of Asian flavours, I made my version of pho/ramen and used nice juicy chicken thighs in my broth and then roasted them afterward for some amazing flavour. The Mr. said he would have preferred shredded chicken and proceeded to shred his into his bowl with each helping. So if you prefer shredded too, it's completely achievable with this recipe.
Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
6 chicken thighs, skin and bones still on
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 lemon, roughly chopped
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coriander seeds
3 star anis
2 tbsp salt
1 chicken stock cube
1.6L boiling water
2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
2 large or 4 smal nests of vermicelli rice noodles
3 spring onions, sliced
fresh coriander to serve
You can make this part as far in advance as you like (a day maybe?). In a big soup pot, add the chicken, garlic, ginger, lemon, honey, coriander seeds, star anis, half the salt, half the soy sauce and half the boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour.
Once the hour is up, the stock should have reduced by about half. Take the chicken out of the pot and lay on an oven tray lined with baking paper, skin side up. This step takes about half an hour all together so you can start immediately or come back to it half an hour before you want to serve.
Preheat an oven to 180 degrees C. Drizzle the sesame oil over the chicken and roll the chicken around in the oil. Sprinkle the mixed spice over the chicken and mop up any that falls on the paper with the bottom of the chicken. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
Take the lemon out of the stock pot and discard it, add the stock cube and the rest of the salt, soy sauce and boiling water and simmer while the chicken is roasting. When the 20 minutes is up, leave the chicken in the oven and add the noodles to the soup, letting them cook in the simmering water for 5 minutes.
Serve with little bowls of coriander and spring onions for everyone to help themselves. I also had some kimchi and sriracha available and they are perfect condiments for this soup.