I've always been a firm believer that what you eat impacts on your mood and health more than almost any other factor - and when faced with mopey ill partner, my thoughts immediately turn to comforting, soothing, healing food. J woke up yesterday with the beginnings of a cold. As both of us were sneezing like... well, sneezy people, what with all the dust yesterday I thought I'd give it 24 hours to check he was actually ill before food-ministry.
I spent a while googling chicken soup recipes that took less than three hours to cook (seriously, who has three hours to cook after work?) and for which I had most of the ingredients for in the house. I found something perfect on BBC Recipes, not a particular favourite of mine (I generally find All Recipes a bit more useful). I was looking for something with a little spice which to clear out his head-cold and be nourishing, pique a diminished appetite and be generally life-affirming.
If you make Thai or Malaysian on a regular-ish basis, the ingredients for Spicy Chicken Dumpling Soup should be mostly to hand with just a couple of fresh ingredients to buy on the way home from work. I'm not posting the link directly as I made a few amendments (some of the quantities were really odd) and this turned out delicious.
Here's a picture someone else made earlier (notice that you can also use udon noodles apparently as well as rice ones, although the delicacy of the rice noodles is nice with the lumpiness of the dumplings).Mine didn't quite end up looking like this but not far off - the aim is a fragrant coconutty broth with bite-sized dumplings.
For the chicken dumplings
- 2 medium-sized chicken breasts, minced (no, nowhere sells chicken mince, as I found out this afternoon. Putting them through the cheese grater function on a food processor does a pretty good job; equally dicing it very, very finely should do the trick too)
- Half a small can of bamboo shoots, drained, chopped finely
- 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, chopped finely
- 2 tsps freshly grated ginger
- 2 tbsps chopped coriander leaves
- 2 tsps nam pla (fish sauce)
- 2 tbsps cornflour
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
For the soup
- 800ml chicken stock (I used Knorr concentrate as I'd run out of homemade, was perfectly nice)
- 1 large can coconut milk
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 1.5 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp nam pla
- Juice of one lime (small)
- Pinch caster sugar
- 4 baby pak choi (I couldn't find baby ones so used 2 regular sized, with the cores cut out, which tasted fine)
- 1 sachet of Amoy ready-to-wok rice noodles
- 2 sliced red chillies
- 8 sprigs fresh coriander
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
1. For the dumplings, put the minced chicken, bamboo shoots, ginger, chilli, coriander, fish sauce and cornflour into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Mix it all together by hand (this is nice and squidgy) until it holds in a large ball. Rinse your hands, and make lots of teeny weeny dumplings, and set them to one side (I made massive ones and they were hard to eat!).
3. Put the stock, coconut milk, lime leaves and ginger slices in a large pan and bring to a simmer.
4. Reduce the heat to low, add the dumplings and simmer gently for five mins or so until just cooked through (they cook far more quickly than you expect).
5. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar.
6. Add the pak choi and rice noodles, bring back to a simmer and remove from the heat.
7. To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls, dividing the dumplings evenly.
8. Serve with the chillies, coriander leaves and lime leaves scattered on the top.
It says it serves four, which it probably would do with pudding. I made this panful for the two of us and we couldn't finish it - very, very filling. If anyone reading this makes it, do let me know how it turns out, and whether you made any changes.