The current issue of Fine Cooking features A Guide to Asian Noodles and Six Inspiring Recipes that Show Them Off. The cover recipe- Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemongrass- is one of those show-off noodle recipes. Those pillowy, fresh udon noodles caught my eye, along with the squeezed wedge of lime on the edge of the bowl. I was intrigued by the photograph, wondering what sort of noodle dish would pair well with lime juice.
The magazine shares, From udon to soba and beyond, Asian noodles make everyday dinners new. Fill your pantry with some of the many options available, and try these easy, inspiring recipes. I’m in complete agreement with the fact that udon noodles can be the base for really great dinners. This “soup” recipe is full of all-kinds of of interesting ingredients such as lemongrass, fresh ginger, shiitake mushrooms, basil, chiles, and lime. Read my notes below to see my take on how it turned out.
Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemongrass
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 35 min
Cook Time: 25 min
This soup is also a great destination for shredded, leftover roast chicken in place of the chicken breast. Just add it to the soup along with the chiles, basil, lime juice, and soy sauce.
2-1/2 Tbs. canola oil
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3/4 lb.), butterflied (cut horizontally almost all the way through and then opened like a book)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 medium shallots (about 4 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced into rings
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers discarded, halved lengthwise, and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
5-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
3-1/2 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered (1-1/2 cups)
9 oz. fresh udon noodles
1 Thai bird chile (or 1 small serrano pepper), sliced into thin rings
8 large fresh torn basil leaves; plus sprigs for garnish
1 medium lime, half juiced and half cut into wedges
1 Tbs. soy sauce; more to taste
2 medium scallions, trimmed and sliced, for garnish (optional)
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks, for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper, and cook without disturbing until it’s browned and releases easily from the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is browned and almost firm to the touch (just short of cooked through), 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool.
2. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the shallots to the pot. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the shallots start soften, about 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the ginger and lemongrass sizzle and become fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and raise the heat to medium high. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the noodles, stirring, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander and run under cold water to cool slightly. Drain well.
4. Use your fingers or the tines of a fork to shred the chicken. Add the chicken and noodles to the broth and cook until the noodles are completely tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Discard the lemongrass. Stir in chiles, torn basil, lime juice and soy sauce; season with more soy to taste. Divide the noodles among 4 large, deep bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles, and garnish with the basil sprigs and scallions, carrot, and cilantro, if using. Serve with the lime wedges for squeezing.
*I used a serrano pepper (I find the Thai bird chile too hot for my taste).
*Fresh udon noodles can be found in Asian markets, but they should be easily available at your regular grocery store too... wherever the wonton wrappers are found (refrigerated section).
*I used all of the optional garnishes, and I recommend that you do that too.
*Only very skilled chopsticks users will be able to eat this with chopsticks. The chopsticks shown in the picture above were for aesthetic, photographic value, and then I dragged out my fork to eat the rest. Yes... a fork. This "soup" is more like a noodle dish than a soup. You can sip the broth after you eat up all of the good stuff. Or use a spoon, cutting up the noodles as you eat.Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1/4 of the soup
Calories per serving: 500
Saturated Fat per serving: 2g
Sugar per serving: 4.9g
Sodium per serving: ,span class="sodium">930g
Fiber per serving: 5g
Protein per serving: 35g
Cholesterol per serving: 45mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 59g
Source: Fine Cooking, April/May 2010
Everyone in my family loved this. I was careful not to make it too spicy. This was my first time ever using lemongrass, and I loved the mild lemon flavor that it imparted into the soup. I thought the udon noodles put a great spin on traditional chicken noodle soup.
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
Definitely, YES! It fit the theme perfectly, and showcases a wonderful, unique way to use udon noodles for dinner.