Several weeks ago I was watching a local morning TV show and saw a segment with Heather Christo. She presented a table full of enticing foods, and everything looked so wonderful (and healthy!), I immediately looked up her blog Heather Christo Cooks. Not even a minute of browsing there and it was clear to me that 1) she knows what real, good food is and 2) she puts together some really fantastic recipes. If you're like me and can't eat everything as it is presented, not to worry! You can adapt the recipes to fit your personal needs. Which is what I did when I was inspired by Heather's Chicken and Soba Noodle Soup...
I am calling it Tangy Asian Chicken and Mushroom Soup
The mushroom slices soak up the broth giving them a delicious juicy texture, while the onions bring a sweetness that balances nicely with the earthy vegetable flavors in the soup. Assuming all of your ingredients (such as vegetable broth and Thai chili paste) pass the test, it is gluten free, dairy free, and Paleo friendly!
What you need:
1 [giant] or 2 regular size boneless skinless chicken breast
10 dried whole shiitake mushrooms (or a generous handful of dried slices)
2 cups hot water
4 cups (a 32 oz box) vegetable broth + 4 cups water
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 knob of ginger, peeled, halved, and sliced into thin half-moons
1 bunch of green onions, sliced
1 Tablespoon fine sea salt
1-2 Tablespoons Thai chili paste* (to taste. I used 2, because we love hot & spicy around here!)
washed leaves from 20 sprigs of cilantro
*Sriracha (Thai hot sauce) has a similar taste - use it if that's what you have
What you do:
If your chicken breast is frozen, get it defrosting in the microwave.
Before starting the soup, get the shiitake mushrooms into a small glass or ceramic (heat safe) bowl and pour on 2 cups hot water. Set aside.
Get out a large (6 to 8 quart) stock pot (a dutch oven would work too). Combine vegetable broth + 4 cups water, slices of onion, ginger, and green onions, and set to simmer.
By now, the mushrooms should be soft and the water they soaked in should be fragrant, turned into a sort of mushroom stock. Squeeze out the mushrooms gently, transfer them to a cutting board and cut them into slices. Add mushroom slices AND the "stock" to the simmering soup. Stir everything together.
Now add the whole chicken breast(s) to the soup. Let it quietly simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes. Remove chicken to a cutting board to cool.
Walk away and blow dry your hair, change the baby's diaper, write the grocery list, feed the cat... any or all of these will do :)
Once chicken breast is cool, use a fork and your fingers to shred into generous bite size pieces. Add chicken back to the soup, along with [to taste] a tablespoon of sea salt and two tablespoons of Thai chili sauce, and the cilantro leaves. Stir everything together, give it a taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
That's it! It is done and you can ladle it into a bowl and start eating.
Try these tasty additions to your bowl as you like:
-a drizzle of sesame oil
-slices of hard boiled egg
-fresh squeezed lime juice
I think I will try using a sweet onion the next time I make this. Red onion is what I had today. I love that aspect of soup - put in what you have and it will work out. What other vegetables do you think would go well in this soup? Some greens, maybe peppers?