I’ve been feeling various degrees of poorly in the last week or so. In all seriousness, I do think I’m fighting something off, but the amount of rich food I’ve been eating and more than usual amounts of booze probably haven’t helped. So, in the run up to Christmas, I’m going to try to stick to soothing, bland and stomach friendly food and drink. Then ruin it all on Friday night, and Saturday, and Sunday, and maybe even Monday and Tuesday. Ho hum.
Anyway, as step one of this plan, I made a chicken and egg noodle soup for dinner tonight. The G man had tinned macaroni cheese. I’ve said it a hundred times, probably, but I don’t know how anyone can eat that stuff. I am not a stranger to convenience food. When I heard the phrase ‘Pot Noodle sandwich’ last week I didn’t flinch. Tins of beans and sausages? Love them. Even packet macaroni cheese is fine – although a recent re-visit to Kraft cheesy pasta did teach me that it’s much more orange and powdery than I remembered. The packet mac and cheese of preference is Marshalls, and now and again I do get involved in it, with over-buttered toast. It’s… well, good isn’t the word. But at any rate it’s better than the abomination that is macaroni cheese in a tin. Despite having tried it a couple of times, I don’t know what it tastes like. It’s not macaroni cheese, that’s for sure.
Anyway, the soup. I’ve got some poor quality steamed up photos of it that don’t really do it justice; the first one is of the shredded chicken, which I feel very pleased with. I’ll get to how I shredded it just shortly, for now here’s a pile of it. Pictures from the G man’s kitchen are always very yellow, I know it’s a lighting issue but somehow I can’t ever find the energy to move the food to somewhere better, so there you have it. Here is a list of the ingredients, to serve two:
- four cloves of garlic
- four large closed cup mushrooms
- drizzle of vegetable oil
- splash of dark soy
- pinch of salt
- water to fill a medium-large pot
- three skinless and boneless chicken thighs
- piece of ginger – thumb sized? Are thumbs standard sizes?
- splash of light soy
- splash of sesame oil
- small pinch chili flakes
- small pinch mixed spice
- one spring onion, sliced into rounds
- block of noodles
- one egg, beaten
Alright – the first thing is to make the soup stock and, simultaneously, cook the chicken. I sliced the mushrooms and smashed the garlic cloves, removing the peel once they were smashed. I put the shrooms and garlic in the pot along with the drizzle of oil, splash of dark soy and pinch of salt, and cooked over a high heat until the mushrooms were done and starting to squeak when I stirred them round the pot. I have never heard anyone else mention the fact that mushrooms squeak as you cook them, so I’m throwing it out there to see if anyone else has had this experience and will admit to it.
When the mushrooms were ready I topped the pot up almost to the top with water, leaving room to add the chicken thighs. I also added the ginger, which was also smashed with the side of a knife, chili, mixed spice, light soy and sesame oil. I simmered this for twenty minutes, then fished out the chicken and shredded it.
To shred the chicken, I ran a fork through it, following the natural grain, and it came apart. I held it still with a knife as I did this, though I think another fork would have made more sense. Another way to do it is to mash with a fork or potato masher, but I found the fork to be easier and less messy, though the chicken breaks apart and you have to do the bits individually. Possibly breast meat might be easier again, but I think thigh or leg is more flavourful. There’s nothing complicated about making it, but I still felt proud of it, it looked just how I wanted. This in itself was just as soothing as the finished bowl of soup.
When I was almost finished shredding the chicken, I dropped the noodles and spring onion into the soup – these took three minutes to cook. I beat the egg in a cup and, once the three minutes were up, I tipped it into the soup. I was hesitant at first because I’ve never added egg to soup before, but when I saw that the little drips I was putting in there just tangled round the noodles and poached, I went for it and dropped the whole lot in. I gave it a stir through to break it up and that was it – the heat was enough to cook it through from there.
I ladled half the soup into a bowl, fishing out bits of ginger and garlic as I saw them, and then topped with the chicken, which was only lukewarm now, but heated through again in the hot soup. I ate it with chopsticks, drinking the broth straight from the bowl when I wasn’t making a mess and slurping noodles off the chopsticks. Excellent times. Feel better already.