It got worse before it got better, folks. At this point it honestly feels like all of December went by in a blur of holiday baking and upper respiratory infections. The baking you already know about. The flu came right after Thanksgiving followed by 2 different bouts of strep throat followed by the nastiest of sinus infections. So, to say my husband and children were happy when I crawled out of my bedroom and made this soup is an understatement. Of vast proportions. My family has gotten pretty spoiled by me! You might have thought doctored canned soup (my favorite fallback meal when sick) was killing them!
You guys know I got a lot of cookbooks for Christmas–even more than usual! The inspiration for this recipe came from One Pot of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 recipes for every day of the year, one of my Christmas presents from my in laws. The book is of typical Williams and Sonoma high quality. It is not a cookbook for lazy day reading or stellar food writing. But if you like one pot meals (and you know I adore one pot meals), it is an absolute treasure trove.
There is a different dish for every single day of the year. The dishes are chosen seasonally; I actually made this dish on January 4, the exact day that it appears in the cookbook. I say “this dish” loosely you understand–by the time I got done with it, it bore little resemblance to the original dish from the cookbook, which is made in a slow cooker and does not have mushrooms or cabbage.
The dish is perfectly situated in the book. Hearty and warming, yet a soup not a stew, it comes after all of the heavy holiday food of the previous month. The proportions of liquid in the original recipe called for 1/4 cup soy sauce to 1/4 cup fish sauce to 5 1/2 cups chicken stock. We found it just a tad too salty, so I have reduced the amounts called for in the recipe. Do adjust to your own taste preferences before serving of course.
One last note: do not skimp on the fresh herbs and cabbage! They elevate the soup into something really fresh and special. John would say don’t skimp on the Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce either no doubt.
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- salt and pepper
- 1½ t Chinese 5 spice
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- ¼ cup minced ginger
- 2-3 T minced garlic
- 16 oz sliced crimini mushrooms
- 3 T rice vinegar, divided
- 6 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
- 3 T Chinese dark soy sauce
- 3 T fish sauce
- 1-4 T light brown sugar, to taste
- rice noodles, cooked
- chopped cilantro
- chopped Thai basil
- chopped mint
- shredded Napa cabbage
- lime wedges
- bean sprouts (my local store was out so I did not use)
- Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- Season the chicken on all sides with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of the Chinese 5 spice powder. Set aside while prepping the rest of the ingredients.
- Heat a medium-large heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil. When it is hot, brown one side of the chicken, about 8 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
- Add the diced onions with a splash of rice vinegar to deglaze the pot. Cook until starting to turn golden, about 8 minutes.
- Make a circle in the onions so that the onions are on the outside of the pot and place half of the mushrooms into the center of the pot. Let cook for about 5 minutes, in which time the mushrooms will start to brown. Mix them into the onions, and repeat the process for the rest of the mushrooms.
- After mixing the mushrooms into the onions, add the garlic and ginger with the remaining ½ teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice powder. Cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. If at any time the mixture starts to stick or scorch, splash in some of the chicken stock.
- Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, fish sauce and 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar. Add the chicken back into the pot, along with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil and then cover with a heavy lid and place in the oven.
- Let cook for 45 minutes–while it is cooking, prep the garnishes, including cooking the rice noodles.
- When you are ready to serve the soup, remove it from the oven. Remove the chicken pieces and shred them. Return them to the pot. Stir in 1 more tablespoon of rice vinegar and taste for additional sugar or even more soy sauce or fish sauce. Serve ladled over rice noodles with shredded cabbage (and preferably bean sprouts), chopped cilantro, mint and basil. Add a squeeze of lime juice, and Sriracha if desired (we desired!).