Philacatessen | Thai-Style Chicken Soup

Thai Soup
(Photo by Keri White)

We are big fans of chicken soup. Every time I roast a chicken, which is often, I make a pot of chicken soup with the bones and freeze it in batches.

Recently, however, I had a hankering for some variety and created a Thai-style version. Fear not, this will never replace the traditional recipe. But at the risk of messing with perfection, it was an excellent riff on the classic.

I always use a chicken that has previously been roasted and incorporate all of the pan drippings, skin, bones, etc.; it delivers a superior depth of flavor and is an economical way to get some extra meals out of one chicken. However, many cooks disagree and feel strongly that a fresh raw fryer is the way to start. Choose your weapon, and simmer away.

A note on the accompaniments: Rice is another excellent addition if seifun or other noodles are not readily available. And if you love mushrooms or bamboo shoots, or red bell peppers or bean sprouts or cooked yams or shredded carrots, then add away. 

The Soup

Serves 8

  • 1 roasted chicken carcass with drippings
  • 4 carrots, cut in half
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in half
  • 3 stalks lemon grass, slashed to release flavor
  • 1 knob ginger, about 1½ inches long, cut in chunks and slashed to release flavor
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 5 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 chili pepper, slashed to release flavor (optional)
  • 2 cans sliced water chestnuts, drained (to be added last)

Accompaniments to serve:

  • 1 package mung bean noodles (aka seifun) or other Asian-style noodles cooked according to package directions
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
  • ½ zucchini, grated
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • Lime wedges

Place the chicken and drippings in a large soup pot, as well as the remaining soup ingredients except the water chestnuts. 

Cover the ingredients with water, bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours or more until the broth develops a golden color and robust flavor.

Strain the soup, discard the vegetables, pick the chicken off bones and return it to the soup. Add the water chestnuts, taste and add more salt if needed.

Serve with accompaniments.


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