February 24, 2010

Vietnamese Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup

I've been stowing my slow-cooker safely in the cupboard for about 2 years. I keep intending to use it---don't get me wrong, I like the idea of throwing some stuff in a pot and coming home after work to a hot and tasty meal just as much as the next person. But somehow I never put it together.

I have been scoping out slow-cooker cookbooks for over a year. Either they are too expensive or they include too many recipes that I wouldn't actual make, so I put off buying one. Then I found the new WW Slow Cook It. It got the price tag to usable recipe ratio right, so I brought it home.

This noodle recipe was the first we attempted out of the book. (Mark actually made it!) The basic recipe is comforting, but kinda plain. But that's ok with me, it leaves a good canvas for decorating with other flavors. We enjoyed adding some hoisin and a dash of habanero hot sauce in addition to the suggested green onion, cilantro and lime juice. Sriracha would probably be good, too. This soup can go which ever direction you want to take it!

Vietnamese Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup
  • 2 chicken breasts, 1/2 lb each (recipe called for bone in, we used boneless)
  • 8 springs fresh cilantro, plus leaves for topping
  • 6 green onions, cut and separated into white and green parts
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and chopped 
  • 3 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (we used 1/2 teaspoon ground)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 2 32-ounce cartons low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 pound rice noodles
  • Basil, mint, lime wedges, hot sauces for garnish
  1. Combine chicken, cilantro springs, white part of green onions, lemongrass, garlic, coriander, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Pour broth over chicken and veggies. Cover and cook until chicken is fork tender, 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.
  2. Once it is cooked, transfer chicken with a slotted spoon to a plate and let stand until cool enough to touch. Discard bones (if necessary) and cut or shred into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain. 
  4. Strain broth to remove vegetables and spices. Stir chicken and noodles back into broth. Cover and cook until chicken and noodles are hot, 5-10 minutes.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls, squeeze lime juice over soup and garnish with desired toppings.
Serves 6

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