Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chinese Chicken & Spinach Soup

It has been an average of 92º or higher since about May 20th and I am REALLY READY FOR THE HEAT WAVE TO GO HOME! Especially because I have been craving soup for the last solid week, but without arctic air conditioning options, *soup is rather out the window.

*Soup can be cold and still be delicious. However, the blush fell off that rose back in July... I want to cook vats of comfort food in my kitchen without losing 10lbs in water weight standing over the stove, which would lead to fainting which would lead to cracked skulls or worse, me a flambé. Generally not a good scenario.

But until it is cold out, this is a quicker cooking soup that you can probably pull off and enjoy while it is still excessively warm out... especially if you are craving Chinese take-out.
Have you ever ordered a soup from your local Chinese take-out joint, curled up to enjoy it on the couch, only to find an hour or two later that you feel achey and ill all over from all the MSG that they snuck in there?

It's just me?
Well... after that happened to me I decided to try and recreate the simple chicken and spinach soup that I had ordered and enjoyed up until the part where my body and stomach starting aching.

I have no idea how they make the broth pale and clear and yet so flavorful. Maybe it's the MSG. Maybe it's something they don't post in any of the ingredients when you do a search for "Chinese Chicken Soup" I don't know. I just know that my soup came out much darker.
But I'm ahead of myself already.

I started out by gently sautéing some boneless skinless chicken thighs (for more flavor than you'd find in a chicken breast...), seasoned with salt, in some garlic and olive oil. I would recommend making the chicken as flavorful as you can before adding it to the soup, as it can only enhance what you've got going on once in the pot.
Once that cooled I removed what fat I could and then sliced it into bite-sized strips.

For the broth of the soup I used a low-sodium organic chicken stock and added to it roughly 2 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce and half a teaspoon of sesame oil. I then added a little less than a tablespoon of grated ginger, and brought the whole thing up to a simmer.

Next I added the chicken back in, as well as a few heaping handfuls of fresh baby spinach (whole). Check for seasoning and add a little salt if needed. (Doubtful if you used regular soy sauce.)

Options at this point: you could add some minced chili or spicy aspect of choice. You could beat an egg and scramble it into your hot soup. You could also mince up some scallion and add that to the soup, or even garnish with fresh cilantro or Thai basil.

Really, whatever makes you happy. But there are many options.
I just went for the simplest version that I was trying to reproduce, and while it was not perfect, it was still quite tasty. And no MSG hangover later. Which is a BIG plus in my book.

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