French Friday’s with Dorie: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

 This is spectacular!

The chickeny-coconutty-limey goodness is something to write home about, let me tell you. I love soup, I mean I really love it. I could eat soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a very long time if needed. However, my soup making usually revolves around roasted vegetables, tomato broths and such, so I was very excited to broaden my horizons and make this new Vietnamese soup from “around my french table”. I had a few misgivings when I prepared my shopping list for a trip to the grocery store. See I love coconut but my dear husband is not a fan, so I was hoping against hope that he would like this soup despite coconut being included on the ingredient list. Frankly, I was hoping that I could have everything prepared before he got home so he wouldn’t see the can of coconut milk and then he would taste the magical soup – his taste buds would explode and he would ask me to make this soup everyday for the rest of our lives….er, well a girl can dream right? In reality, I made this soup and thought of a few things I could make quickly for him if I needed to -just in case!

To start off, I gathered and prepped the necessary items called for on page 98:

One bunch of cilantro, leaves removed from the stems, star anise, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, onion, fresh garlic, ginger root, dry red chiles, chicken broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, chicken breasts, chinese egg noodles (I used udon), and lime juice.

I took a length of cheesecloth and placed a handful of cilantro stems, white peppercorns, coriander seeds and the star anise in the middle and then bundled and tied the package together with some butcher string. This went into the dutch oven.

Next, I added the minced ginger, onion, garlic and a single dried red pepper (I am a spice wuss) to the pot, and then combined the chicken broth and the can of coconut milk together. I turned the heat to medium-high until it started to boil.

Meanwhile, I washed the chicken under the faucet and patted them dry so I could split my chicken breasts in half. I hoped this would quicken then poaching process since my husband was due home soon! When the soup was boiling, I lowered the chicken into the pot, turned the heat to low and put the lid on to simmer for a bit.

I didn’t do this on purpose, but the chicken in the pot made a grumpy face!

The chicken was poaching so I turned my attention to the noodles. I looked and looked for chinese egg noodles in several stores and could only find the German variety  which I didn’t think would be right. So I bought a package of udon noodles and broke them into two-inch pieces and boiled them in water until al-dente. (Next time I might just add them to the soup to cook).

By now the chicken breasts were cooked through, so I removed them from the broth, shredded them as quick as possible and returned them to the pot. I fished out the  herb bundle and the red pepper, juiced some limes, drained the noodles and added them to the mix to re-heat.

I added a handful of cilantro leaves and stirred it around. Next was a taste test – wow- it was pretty good, but I still had the fish sauce and the brown sugar to add. I ended up not adding the sugar, but the fish sauce made it even more savory. Did anyone else add the sugar, was it good? Please let me know! 

By now, my husband was home and I dished up the soup and with confidence we started to eat. I dove in and enjoyed the complex flavors, the coconut, the chicken, the lime and cilantro. My husband liked it too! The only thing he mentioned was that next time I should use a little less lime juice since he felt it dominated the chicken flavors. I told him this was easily done and would plan to make this soup again in the future!

Horray, another soup recipe to add to my repertoire! Thanks Dorie,  and a huge thank you to my husband who is willing to try all these new recipes with me! I am truly lucky and blessed to have a partner so supportive of my culinary hobby!!

This recipe and blog post is part of the French Fridays with Dorie group who are baking their way through “around my french table” by Dorie Greenspan. If you are interested joining the group please get your self a copy of the book and register!

5 responses to this post.

  1. I love your step-by-step photos! And I think I’ll try udon noodles next time. Great idea.


  2. Wasn’t the lime great in the soup? I was the only person in my family to eat it that way–I see I’m in good company, though!


  3. I love that your soup retained it’s coconut milk – mine just disappeared! Great photos and adding the cilantro leaves into the soup gives it such a nice color and contrast with the milk.


  4. Your soup looks nice. I did use the sugar, but it was only one teaspoon, so I’m not sure what difference it made. My soup didn’t taste sweet. I mostly tasted the lime and the overall fragrance of the broth.


  5. Posted by Candy on October 18, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I added the sugar too, just adds a little depth, I think. I really liked the herbs added, and I added the additional lime after serving.

    So glad you both liked it! It looks great!


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