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Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemongrass

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Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 104

In this cross between Vietnamese pho and Japanese udon noodle soup, fresh udon noodles are the star. Fat and bouncy in texture, they cook faster and tend to be more delicate than dried udon.

  • 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 and 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)
Tip:
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.

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.

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.

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.

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 the 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.

Serving Suggestions

Make tonight's dinner a soup and salad combo: Serve a green salad dressed with Homemade Asian Vinaigrette.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 500; Fat (g): fat g 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 130; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 2; Protein (g): protein g 35; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 59; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 930; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 45; Fiber (g): fiber g 5;

Photo: Pernille Pedersen

I love fat udon noodles, and the ladies at the pho shop next door know me by name. I LOVED this soup. It's great as written, but if you really love lemongrass I would toss in another bruised stalk or two.

I wanted to like it so much more than I did. I think I prefer the depth of fish sauce over soy and rice noodles over udon. The soup was really easy to make though and it's worth going back to to make some adjustments to see if it works.

I used expensive prepared lemongrass in a tube and I could not get past the texture of hundreds of almost imperceptible to the eye, tiny, woody, little chards of stalk that floated in the broth. Although it tasted ok in spite of this, it was muddy brown in colour, not like the picture. Doubt I'll make this again.

This was quite simple actually...and very tasty. I thought it could be a touch sweeter next time. Next time I will add couple of extra tablespoons of sugar. I also would try lemongrass paste, as the lemongrass stalk was too subtle. Also, I made a mixed green salad with the asian vinaigrette which was an amazing complement to the soup!.

Excellent!!! This has become one of our go-to favourites

Holy amazing mojo soup! I used leftover turkey and the lemongrass paste instead of the stalks. Turned out to be a killer recipe!

Excellent flavor! I chopped up a couple of Kaffir Lime leaves and added it to the broth. This soup will become a regular for my family.

This was a fantastic soup. I can't wait to make it again!

Delicious. Substituted a can of coconut milk for some chicken broth and it came out really good. Also used shrimp instead of chicken. Definetely one of my favorites.

This soup is an amazing change of pace from the same ol'chicken noodle, we loved it and it's a definate keeper,i doubled the recipe and used gourmet garden lemon grass instead of fresh - used about 3 tbs. Also, used powdered ginger 1tbs because i didn't have fresh on hand. It was perfect!!

Good flavour, I found the chicken got over-cooked though.

Yummy! I have been in the mood for chicken noodle soup and this is the best I've ever had! I skipped the lemongrass because what my store had did not look very fresh. Definitely will be making this again....and again....

Very good. Full of flavour. Will make it againg.

Very good. Full of flavour. Will make it againg.

Udon is a great spin on traditional noodles for Chicken Noodle. Chili pepper seemed to really infuse with the mushrooms and the noodles, so if it's a hot one and you have eaters that are sensitive to spice they will notice. Great recipe, though.

I followed the recipe fairly closely but used garlic flavored fresh udon noodles, added a handful of peas and I kicked it up a notch with more chile. Shot to the top of my 'favorites' list! Delicious!!!

A great soup that combines the best of several types of Asian soups. From Japan, the succulent and toothsome udon noodles. From Thailand, the zing of lemongrass, and from Vietnam the rich broth of chicken pho and the aromatic garnish of fresh herbs. Whilst this might sound like a mish-mosh, it integrates into a beautiful and delicious whole. This warming soup is light enough to be served well into spring.

I couldn't wait to try this once I received the magazine in my mailbox! I followed the recipe for the most part, substituting rice noodles since that's what I had on hand and adding some thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves when I added the mushrooms. I love the extra lime flavor they impart! I really kicked up the heat with about 6 thai peppers and garnished with cilantro and a wedge of lime. The flavors of this soup are superb!

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