Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Soup’s the thing if you’ve lost your bling

In Recipes on January 7, 2013 at 1:50 am

My daughter worked quite solidly over the Xmas and New year period.  This, combined with a cold, left her with laryngitis.  I’ve never had laryngitis myself but I felt for her as she attempted to communicate in a whisper over the phone.  Clearly, what she needed was a good restorative soup and a mother to make it of course.

Most cultures around the world have a soup or porridge that they serve to invalids.  There is the famous Jewish chicken soup alternatively known as ‘Jewish penicillin’,  there is the Italian brodo and the Vietnamese pho (for recipe see March 2011 It’s so good pho you).  In China there is also the nourishing soupy rice porridge known as congee (for recipe see December 2010 Congee Love).   These recipes take time and some specilaized ingredients.  The soup I made was quick and easy and used Asian ingredients that are readily available in the supermarket these days.

When I arrived the poor thing was in a bad state, barely able to talk – a frustrating condition for someone who is fond of the practice. A visit to the doctor confirmed the worst and she was ordered to refrain from talking for two days.  Fortunately, by this time the soup was ready and I served her a big steaming bowl.  She communicated her appreciation via pad and pen.  A couple of hours later I left her with plenty of soup to heat up, some poached chicken and a bunch of cheeky housemates determined to take full advantage of her temporary inability to answer back.

Quick Asian Broth with Poached Chicken Breast

Restorative broth

Quick broth with Asian flavours


1 litre chicken stock

1 litre water

5oo g free range chicken breast fillets (skinless)

1 thumb sized piece of ginger (sliced)

2 cloves garlic (peeled)

2 long red chillies

3 or four spring onions

2 tbs light soy sauce

2 tbs shao hsing wine

1 – 2 star anise

1 carrot (julienned)

200 g shitake or button mushrooms (thinly sliced)

1/2 bunch bok choy, choy sum or any other Asian green

1 tin bamboo shoots (drained)

sesame oil

200 g snow peas

rice vermicelli noodles


Pour water and stock into a large pot.  Place on a medium heat.  Add the sliced ginger, garlic, 1 sliced chilli, the white parts of the spring onions, star anise, shao hsing wine, soy sauce.  Trim and halve the chicken fillets.  Add to the pot and bring to a gentle simmer, do not boil as this will make the poached chicken tough.  Cook gently, uncovered, for 15 – 20 mins or until the fillets are white and firm to the touch.  Turn the heat off and cool the chicken fillets in the broth.  When almost cool remove the fillets and set aside.  Strain the broth and place back in the pot.   Bring to the boil and add the carrot, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and sliced bok choy.  Cook for 5 mins.  Put a small amount of rice vermicelli noodles in the bottom of each bowl.  Top with some slices of poached chicken and pour over the hot broth and vegetables.  Finish each bowl with a few drops of sesame oil.  Serve with sliced snow peas, sliced chilli and extra soy.

Note: Poached chicken is a versatile ingredient and this method will work with any flavours be they Asian or European.