Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Soup, Glorious Soup!

Ann and I had a tentative date to go to Thai Winchester yesterday, where surely we would have ordered a big bowl of roasted duck noodle soup. Our date fell through but still Ann wanted soup for dinner and so I obliged her with a huge bowl of rice noodle soup. And it turned out to be one of the best soups I have ever made.

Soup Nirvana!
While I was shopping at the local market, one of the Korean managers happened by and we chatted for a minute, as we always do. He spied the pork necks and the chicken necks in my basket and asked what I was making. When I told him soup, he exclaimed, "I wish I were eating at your house tonight!" And indeed he does wish he did for this pot of soup was outstanding.

First, I made a stock of the chicken necks, pork necks, slabs of ginger, two pieces of lemongrass whacked with the back of my knife, six or eight smashed but whole cloves of garlic, a bundle of cilantro stems, and the stems off a couple dozen shiitake mushrooms. And after this simmered away for about three hours, I strained the stock, seasoned it with salt, and returned it to a low flame.

In the meantime, I prepped the garnishes for the soup: small cubes of country ham, bean sprouts, sliced shiitakes, some pickled mustard stems, sliced green onions, and cilantro leaves.

Into the hot stock, I put the shiitake mushrooms and some fresh rice noodles and let the noodles just soften, about 90 seconds. Once the noodles were divided between serving bowls, I put the bean sprouts, mustard stems, ham, and green onions on top of the noodles. Finally, I poured the hot soup stock over all and topped everything with fresh cilantro.

Soup does not get any better than this.

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