I placed Olive’s bowl at the table first so it would have time to cool down while I got mine and Matt’s ready. I started hearing Olive saying, “Mmm!” and “This is so good and juicy, Mama” and at first I assumed she was putting on another one-act play because Olive hasn’t been too enthusiastic about meals, lately. Certainly not enthusiastic enough to compliment the food. Usually, it seems as if she just merely tolerates food until she can get down and play again. And as I thought back while she was inhaling this soup, I remembered the last time she was this enthusiastic about food, it had very similar ingredients in a potato curry Matt made. She is apparently our Asian flavor lover. And I love that. I love that she won’t bat an eye at cilantro, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce and lemongrass. She will certainly protest if I try to get her to eat…lettuce, or something else benign like that. But big, bold flavors are her bag (as long as it’s not SPICY!) And the occasional chorus of “mmm” and “this is good, Mama,” is so few and far between that I make mental note of the dishes that inspire that response in her. I never thought I’d care so much about someone’s opinion of food until I had a child. But sharing food and sharing a JOY of food is precious and even more so when that person is family.
We’ve done a few spins on classic dishes in the past and have loved the results. We’ve done biscuits and curry “gravy” and a green chili corn chowder and loved the fusion of classic American dishes and flavors from other cultures. I made up a spin on the classic Campbell’s Chicken and Rice you may have grown up eating, but instead, included all the flavors we love from Asian cultures. It was super comforting and would be fantastic for a cold, rainy day like we’re having today. I didn’t have coconut milk, but I think it would be a fantastic addition in place of the heavy cream. This soup is built with lots and lots of taste-testing along the way. Every soup should be, I think. So I’m giving approximate ingredient amounts, but I encourage you to taste and add things you love for yourself. We added Sriracha (of course) and lots and lots of cilantro as a garnish and some tasty frozen Vietnamese egg rolls for a side and enjoyed the heck out of this dish. I hope you do, too! Happy Monday.
Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup
2 cups shredded chicken from two chicken breasts or 4 chicken legs/thighs (bone in)
2 kaffir lime leaves
A two inch piece of peeled ginger
2 stalks lemongrass, split
1/2 white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut milk)
salt to taste
1 cup jasmine rice
1 carrot, diced small
In a large stock pot, add the (raw) chicken (bone-in) and cover with water till it’s submerged by abut 2 inches. Add the kaffir lime leaves (can be found at most chinese markets in the freezer or fridge section – this isn’t essential but it gives the soup that thing that I can’t describe but it’s wonderful), ginger, lemongrass, onion and garlic and bring the water to a boil. Let the chicken boil until the internal temp registers at least 165 when inserted into the thickest part of the meat. Remove the chicken, let it cool, and pull off all the meat. Return the bones to the pot and let it continue to boil while you cook the rice.
In a small saucepan, add 1 3/4 cups water, a tablespoon of olive oil, the diced carrot and a pinch of salt and the cup of rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, stir and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until tender.
Remove the chicken bones, the lemongrass and onion and discard. Return the shredded meat to the pot. Add the vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and salt to the broth until it tastes…right. 🙂 This is the point where you need to trust your palate. You may like it with more vinegar or more sugar, more fish sauce, whatever. I tasted and adjusted and then added the heavy cream.
Spoon rice into bowls and ladle the chicken soup on top. Garnish with LOTS of cilantro and serve!