It’s one of those blah summer / late spring days, the temperature has dropped considerably much to my dismay, it’s overcast, and every now and then heavy rain sets in. It’s perfect cuddle weather actually, but the only ones around I could cuddle have got tuna breath. But it’s also great soup weather, and since I’ve been lagging on the recipes lately, here’s something to start catching up with:

Some chickens get swung around heads. Others end up in my wok.

Some chickens get swung above heads. Others end up in my wok.

For 6 to 8 servings you’ll need:

3 chicken breast filets (about 200 grammes each)
a little oil for frying
about 1.5 litres of chicken bouillon
juice of one lemon
400 millilitres of coconut milk
2 tablespoons of finely chopped mixed herbs & spices such as parsley, garlic, ginger, coriander, green pepper, lemon grass, spring onions, curry leaves, and Chinese chives (You can get / grow larger quantities of the herbs and dry them by tying the stems together with a rubber band and then hanging them up. Crumble when dry into spice storage containers.)
3 tablespoons of finely cut chilli peppers
1 1/2 tablespoons of your favourite curry mix
1/2 a tablespoon of curcuma (a cheaper alternative to saffron for adding colour – to your clothes as well, so be careful)
3 medium-sized carrots; peeled and finely diced
1 medium-sized jar of mung bean sprouts (approximately 200 grammes net weight)
approximately 125 grammes of short wok noodles (or break long ones into spoon-size bits) that don’t need pre-boiling

Heat some oil in the wok (a large pot will also do, but quality woks not only look great but also distribute the heat differently, which will save you a lot of time). Rinse and dry the chicken breast filets and fry from all sides (this will keep them juicy but will also prevent the meat from getting soggy later). Add the chicken bouillon and bring to the boil. Add lemon juice, and let the broth simmer on low heat for about thirty minutes with lid on the wok. (If the bouillon boils down, add some water to keep the meat covered.) Remove the filets from the broth. Add coconut milk, stir in spices, herbs, and carrots, and bring to the boil. Cut the chicken breast filets into bite-size pieces. Strain and add mung bean sprouts to the soup, then the meat. Stir in wok noodles and let the soup simmer on low heat for another four to five minutes.

The soup looks great served in the wok, and the colours are more intense than in the picture. You can also prepare the soup hours ahead, but I recommend only adding the noodles when you re-heat the soup so they won’t get too soft.

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  • I think “curcuma” is called turmeric in other parts of the world.

    I’ve never encountered carrots and bean sprouts in similar soups. And there is usually lemongrass or Persian lemon instead of regular lemon juice.

    I’m also missing the bean or fish paste, and possibly ginger. One advantage of the lemon grass it that it adds a gingery undertone.

  • BD, I looked the German “Kurkuma” up, and the dictionary told me “curcuma” for the spice and “turmeric” for the plant.

    And there are lemon grass and ginger in the soup (among the herbs and spices); the lemon juice makes the meat more tender and balances the coconut, which then doesn’t taste as much dessert-like.

    This is not an out-of-the-cookbook recipe for some Asian soup, but a recipe for a chicken soup I scrambled together and think it’s pretty nice. I’ll cook it for Muffti soon.

    (I just can’t bring myself to use possibly fermented fish in about anything – even if the Ancient Romans already did so.)

  • I like this Asian take on the chicken noodle soup. It gives me the perfect excuse to buy a wok. 🙂

  • Saffron isn’t just for color. It imparts a beautiful color, true, but its subtle and distinctive flavor is what makes it so good.

    You can’t really make a proper Arroz con Pollo without it. Paprika and/or turmeric could give you a similar-looking color, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

  • Ephraim, I’ve got delicate taste buds (in addition to being a synaesthetic, which includes being extremely sensitive to sensory input of any knind, I’ve never smoked and hardly ever drink alcohol), and compared dishes with saffrom as opposed to curcuma over the past few months, and my impression is that there isn’t much of an actual difference. Saffron is used for colour in recipes over here. (In the past, they would add saffron to cakes to make the dough more yellow to make it appear the dough contained a luxurious amount of egg yolks.) It has a slightly bitter taste if you use it in large enough quantities (most recipes require half a gramme, so that’s barely noticeable), but so does curcuma.

    Vicki, definitely get a wok. It’s so much fun and also quick. I got a WMF one. Get a bowl like one with a rack you can remove, not a stepped one. Mine is double-walled, so it stores the heat without the stuff getting burnt, but the handles don’t get hot.

  • Well, with all due respect to your super-duper sensitive taste buds, I use saffron for the flavor (the color is beautiful, too). It doesn’t taste at all like turmeric.

  • Have you ever smoked? Friends / relatives that have told me it took them years to restore their sense of taste again. Alcohol numbs the taste buds, that’s why real gourmets have water with their meals. (Greasy foods “cover” the taste buds, and it was found out that even distinguished sommeliers couldn’t tell a cheap from a top-notch wine after having eaten cheese. Figure that.)

  • Does anyone else find it weird that two of our more right wing and hawkish commentators (Ephraim and Ben-David) are also the most active commentators on food and cooking issues? 🙂

    That looks freakin’ awesome F’lein.

  • Heh, I know those guys love cooking and baking, and I think that’s great – getting to see their softer sides. 😉

    Muffti will get to sample the soup soon.

  • And here you guys probably thought us warmongers only eat raw meat.

    You learn something every day, I guess.

    I am not a “hawk” by choice. I just think that of all of the bad choices Israel has, the only sensible way is to defend itself.

  • Grand Muffti, I’ve noted that before as well. I can only say that even some of the most fahbrenteneh Zionists are more complicated people than they appear. These two fellahs may not make for the best dinner conversation, but apparently, they may would make one fine dinner.

  • I think that would be “farbrentener” in my case, since I am a man. I’m pretty sure the “eh” ending is feminine.

  • As I understand it, a “meshuggener” is a crazy man and a “meshuggeneh” is a crazy woman.

    But, yes, it would be nice to know for sure.

  • What’s the problem?

    The “hawks” you are referring to aren’t exactly preaching “manifest destiny” expansionism. They’re talking rational self-defense.

    Which goes with marriage, family, and nurturing quite naturally.

    As opposed to the self-interested libertarianism affected by many of us when we are young and unattached.

  • No problem, I’ll ask…

    Next thing B-D will do is to tell Muffti and Kelsey to get married and have a family, then CK will jump in to ensure that a) Muffti will intramarry, and b) Kelsey will have his sons circumcised.

  • A true right-winger can’t cook for squat, period, end of story.

  • I may be the most conservative person in the house, so they only trust me with cleanup.

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