Lekker: Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Yikes...according to Blogger, it's been almost a month and a half since I last blogged here! Shame on me, especially since I was bound and determined to make sure that this blog, THIS ONE, did not fall by the wayside like so many others. But, there's also something to be said for writing simply for the joy of it, not because I have to. This *is* just a hobby, after all!

It's not that I haven't been writing. In fact, in December I finally published an extremely personal article that's been in the works for over a year. It was a moment of deep personal pride for me, because it is not a happy story, although it has a happy ending. It's not about food. It's about the time when I lost my love for food--when I lost my love for everything--because I was struggling my way through a dark depression and very much alone. No, it is not a happy story. However, since I am on the "other side" of depression I believe it is a subject that we need to talk about more, to offer help and support to those still struggling and to strip away the stigma of this "disease". So many of us will, at one point or another in our lives, become acquainted with the demon. You can read it here, if you are so inclined.

Moving on to happier things, I've been cooking too! Tonight's recipe was inspired by the snow currently softly falling outside my window. (Doesn't snow make just the loveliest, soft sound when it hits the ground?) After all my holiday over-indulgence, I was craving something clean and crisp, something lean, and something absolutely steaming hot. A Thai noodle soup came to mind. Give it a shot, if you've got some cold weather coming your way!

Voila! Serve topped with a soft or hard boiled egg for extra protein.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
(Makes a GIANT VAT--maybe 6-8 servings? Freeze half for when you're sick and don't want to cook.)

What You Need
2 tablespoons butter, vegetable oil or coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin matchsticks
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks (I used a large handful of baby carrots)
2 cups of shredded cooked chicken (which equated to one full breast and both legs of a small rotisserie chicken, for me, because I am lazy and also live to devour the skin of rotisserie chicken)
Approximately 4-6 cups of water, or to taste
0.5 ounce package of dried mixed mushrooms (I used the Ponderosa Mushrooms brand, available in a small box by all the other mushrooms in the supermarket) 
1 tablespoon fish sauce (found in the Asian foods aisle)
1 small handful of Thai rice noodles (also in the Asian foods aisle)
5-6 scallions/green onions, sliced into thin rings
1 large handful of cilantro leaves, chopped roughly
Juice of 1/2 a fresh squeezed lime

1 hard or soft boiled egg per person, for serving: optional, but delicious

What You Do
1. In a large stockpot, melt the butter or oil of your choice and saute the garlic over low heat until fragrant. Add the carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the bell pepper and saute for another 3ish minutes. I usually find that in Thai soups, the vegetables aren't cooked through and still contain a nice fresh bite, so you don't want them to go too soft.

2. Add the broth, the shredded chicken, the fish sauce and about 4 cups of water (you can add more later if you want more liquid, or if you find the flavour of the broth too strong for you) and bring the soup to a boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, add the noodles, mushrooms, scallions, cilantro, and lime and turn OFF the heat. Thai rice noodles are awesome! You just need to drop them into boiling water and in about 7-8 minutes, they'll soften and rehydrate and be cooked. Brilliant. Same with the dried mushrooms--they just need a few minutes in hot liquid to rehydrate. Let the soup sit covered for about 8-10 minutes, perhaps while you prepare the eggs.

To make a hard boiled egg: gently pierce the large end of the egg with an egg piercer, if you've got it. Place into a small pot filled with water. Cover and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, start the timer for one minute. After one minute of boiling, remove the pot from the heat and let sit, covered, for 12 minutes. Then shock the eggs by telling them you're pregnant dumping them into ice water to stop the cooking process. To get a soft boiled egg, all you need to do is cut the "rest" time from 12 minutes to only 3-4.

I found myself wishing there were even more vegetables in this soup, so next time I think I'll add some finely sliced baby bok choy right at the end.

Since I've still got most of a rotisserie chicken in the fridge and more cold weather coming (we'll be enjoying a low of 7 on Monday...) I think I'll give the traditional Greek soup Avgolemono a shot this weekend. Stay warm, y'all. Bourbon helps.