To Cure the Sick

It's still the deepest of winter here in Tehachapi. There is Snow Snow Snow Snow and more Snow on the way! Needless to say there are a LOT of people down with colds, flu, etc...

One of my very best friends came down very sick yesterday, so I made her some chicken soup with 'flare'. I love chicken soup when I'm sick. It's easy to eat, full of protein and vitamins, and just makes your feel a little warmer inside.

This recipe is a hold-over from the "Fusion Cuisine" rage that happened about 10 years ago. Even though "Fusion" as a cuisine has dissolved into our every day experience with soy glazes, and "Mexican spring rolls" on practically every menu; I still love the original idea of adding unexpected elements to otherwise mundane dishes.

That's what this Chicken Soup is all about. Something familiar and yet a bit exotic at the same time. It looks a little intimidating, as there are a lot of ingredients, but the instructions make it a lot easier to make than you might think. By the way-in Vietnam this soup is called "Pho"...So, give it a try and take your taste buds to the Orient!!!

So without further adieue:

Asian Chicken Soup

2 Tbs. sesame oil
1 bunch green onions-thinly sliced
2 ribs of celery-thinly sliced
2 carrots-peeled and finely julianned
8 oz. Shiitake mushrooms-stems removed and the caps thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic-crushed and minced
2 Tbs. ginger paste
1 Lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs-1/2 inch dice (breast meat is OK too)
2 Tbs. black sesame seeds
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs. Asian chili paste (optional)
1 cup frozen Edamame
1 Lb. Japanese yaki-soba noodles-cooked according to package
2-3 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup Michiu, or dry white wine

EXTRAS:
1 bunch cilantro-chopped, leaves, stems and all
1 Lb. mung bean sprouts
1 white onion very thinly sliced
roasted unsalted peanuts-chopped
Chili garlic sauce
Fermented Black soy beans packed in oil
roasted garlic-whole cloves or paste, your choice
Red Thai chilies-thinly sliced
basil leaves
Rice wine vinegar

Pour the sesame oil into a very large stock pot that has been heated to medium high. Add the next 6 ingredients and saute until the mixture is fragrant and slightly cooked. Add the chicken and brown. Add the next 7 ingredients and turn the heat to low and cover the soup. Simmer for 60-90 minutes on low-just until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Place the "extras" separately into small bowls and put the bowls into the center of your table with tongs and spoons so everyone can help themselves. If you are worried about clean-up just use a few disposable paper bowls.

 Ladle the hot soup into large soup bowls, serve, and heap as many or as few "extras" into your soup as you like!

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