Yes, Scottish weather is back to normal, which is to say, cold. Which is to say, soup. Remember that chicken I wrote about, that I poach with no particular purpose in mind, and stash in the freezer in handy 500 ml containers? Here it is again.
It can be broth, chicken sandwiches, risotto, risotto soup. Or maybe made chicken pie, or chicken and dumplings. All these things are lovely, but they are a bit…I won´t say boring, of course, but staid. Pale in colour, gentle in taste. Wonderful in every way, but about as exciting as an afternoon on a cushy sofa re-reading Georgette Heyer.
Let´s look to Asia, then. And let´s be broadminded about this, ok? Don´t beat me up on regional stuff. I´m Spanish and I add a dash of ketchup to my gazpacho, so I´m pretty sure there are things going on all over the world that would shock the recipe police.
Here´s the game. You have chicken broth, and you have poached chicken. You only need noodles to make noodle soup, and a few bits and bobs to make it interesting.
Quantities are imprecise, not because I want to be annoying but because leftovers are not an exact science. You have to wing it with what you have.
The simplest is to heat the broth, add a pinch of sugar, lots of fish sauce, lime juice (or lemon), chilies and ginger, and pour it over noodles and the chicken. A few sprigs of herbs to make it pretty and that´s it. I sometimes cook the noodles inside the broth, but that´s false economy. It really is better to boil them apart. And as for the herbs, whatever you have. I hate cilantro, so tend to use parsley, or chives, or mint, or all three.
As far as I can tell, that puts us in or near Vietnam.
Another one I like is to heat the broth, dissolve a heaped spoonful of miso and let some wakame seaweed swell. Boil noodles (and they should be ramen noodles, but anything goes, and actually fresh spaghetti work very well) float chicken. Poach an egg, directly in the soup if you like, and serve, with some nori, a bit of chopped scallion for colour, and, if you have it, that moreish sichimi togarashi.
Would a Japanese granny approve? Who cares.
Prettiest of all is this third option, flirting with Malaysia or Thailand. Boil noodles in a pot, rice noodles for preference.Heat another pan and fry some Thai red curry or tom yum paste. I add more ginger because I really, really love ginger. Add the broth and coconut milk, fish sauce, lime or lemon juice, chili, etc. Tweak and see how you like it.
At the last minute add the chicken and some frozen prawns, and when the prawns are done, so is the soup.
I like to add peanuts and fried onions (from a bag) and any pretty herb I have. In fact, it´s so hearty that even if there is no chicken it´s more than fine. And if you have little or no broth, make it less soupy and serve it over rice instead.
The great thing about these soups is that they are just as good for any weather, so don´t feel you have to wait for the nippy winds of the North Sea to have a go.