As we dance our way into the festive season, we waltz right into a frenzy of entertaining, partying and overeating. This is the perfect time to take a step back and remind ourselves’ to maintain balance – both mind and body balance. This is a wonderful time of the year, but it also comes coupled with overwhelming commitments, late nights, excessive food and alcohol consumption.
Over the last few years, I have personally gotten slightly less frantic during the festive season. I have accepted that I will not bite off more than I can chew. I listen to my body and mind and remind myself never to over-commit. I cannot be at every party and I cannot host the best party. It’s okay to decline an invitation and it’s okay to simplify entertaining and keep things very casual. These are simple coping mechanisms, that I have developed for myself.
Despite these changes, there are still times when I do feel rather overwhelmed by social and familial commitments. This is when I turn to what I find most therapeutic and relaxing – cooking and then eating those meals with my loved ones. I do turn to food for comfort, but to balance all the eating out I ensure our home-cooked meals are healthy and wholesome. I often find this wellbeing in the form of nourishing, well-balanced soups and stews. The aromas, flavours and warmth of these meals are an instant reset for me.
When things get too hectic, I often turn to this Thai Chicken Noodle Soup recipe for a moment of Zen and some balanced nutrition. All the classic Thai herbs are simmered together in the broth to create deep flavours and strong aromas evocative of a Thai kitchen. The addition of coconut milk lends a lustrous and luxurious texture to the soup. The noodles, chicken and vegetables guarantee a well-balanced and satiating meal.
This festive season when things get rather chaotic and you need to find some balance, do turn to this recipe. The therapy of cooking it and slowly eating it promises to calm you down and satiate your mind, body and soul!
Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
Yield: 4 bowls
Time: 45 minutes
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 birds eye chillies, slit lengthwise (See note)
2 stalk fresh Lemongrass, cut length wise and slighlty bruised
1 – 1 inch piece of galangal
1 tablespoon garlic, peeled and sliced
2 fresh kaffir lime leaves, whole
1.5 teaspoons fish sauce
1.5 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon brown sugar
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, whole
200 grams rice vermicelli noodles, uncooked
¼ cup, baby corn, diced
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup coconut milk (See note)
4 bulbs of baby Pak Choi, cut in half lengthwise (See note)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1½ tablespoon scallion greens, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
4 lemon wedges, for serving
- If you prefer the soup less spicy – start with only 1 birds eye chilli.
- This is a lower fat recipe, so only 1 cup of coconut milk is used. But the resulting soup broth is thin in consistency. If you want a thicker soup broth – reduce the chicken stock by one cup and increase the coconut milk by one cup. If you do this, please increase the herbs and seasonings as the coconut milk will reduce their intensity of flavours and aromas.
- Baby Pak Choi is the same as Bok Choy. If you can’t find the baby variety use the regular kind, just cut it accordingly.
- You can make the soup and reheat later, but do not add in the cooked chicken and cooked noodles till the time of serving.
1) Place the stock in a large soup pot on medium-high heat. To this add the birds eye chillies, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar. Bring everything to a boil.
2) Once the broth has reached a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the chicken breasts. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the chicken breasts are cooked. Remove the chicken breasts from the stock and set them aside. Once they are cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and keep it ready for later.
3) While the chicken is cooking, cook the noodles in boiling water (per the package instructions) and set aside.
4) Bring the heat on the broth pot back to medium high and add the baby corn. Cook covered for 5 minutes. Now reduce the heat to low and and stir in the mushrooms. Cook covered for another for 5 minutes
5) Now remove the lid and slowly stir in the coconut milk, stirring constantly. Let the soup cook with the coconut milk for 5 minutes uncovered. Add in the Pak Choi and cook for another 3 minutes.
6) Turn off the heat and stir in the scallions and cilantro and taste the broth. Adjust the chilli, fish sauce, soy sauce and lemon juice per your taste. Remove the lemon grass stalks and piece of galangal.
7) Divide the noodles and chicken between 4 bowls and then top each bowl with the hot soup and serve immediately.