Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe Recipe

My friend Hadas is pregnant with her second child and is about to give birth in a few days. Unfortunately, she became sick because of the cold weather. Since some medications can be dangerous during pregnancy, I offered to prepare chicken noodle soup with healing spices used in traditional Chinese medicine, such as turmeric, ginger, onion and red chiles.

My way of making the broth flavorful is to first sauté small pieces of chicken with garlic and red chiles, then deglaze the bits fromt he bottom of the pot with liquid to capture as much flavor as possible. I also added common vegetables (celery and carrots) to complete the soup. Hadas confirmed the soup helped soothe her sore throat.

I also want to thank all of you who stopped by this weekend during my booksigning event at Barnes & Noble Eastridge Mall in San Jose. I had such a blast. Happy holidays!



Yields: 8 servings

2¼ to 2½ quarts water
6 cups chicken stock
1½ pounds chicken thighs, skinless
1 tablespoon papaya paste (see tips)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon red chili pepper
3 dried red chiles, stemmed
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons green onions, chopped
4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
½-inch piece fresh turmeric (see tips), freshly grated
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
4 cups cooked small shell pasta
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
6 tablespoons kosher salt
¼ cup fresh cilantro, tightly packed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ teaspoons black pepper, freshly cracked


Marinating the chicken:

Trim any fat from the chicken. Wash the chicken and pat dry using paper towels. Cut into small pieces; season with kosher salt and red chili powder.

In a zip-top bag (or a bowl), combine 1 clove of garlic, papaya, baking powder, sugar, green onions and soy sauce. Add the chicken. Shake the bag gently to coat the meat with the marinade (or mix well). Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Place the bag in a baking dish (for easy cleanup). Marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Sautéing the chicken:

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator ahead of time to bring it back to room temperature. Sprinkle the meat with salt.

In a pot, brush about 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the pot is hot, add the onions. Cook until shiny without coloration. Add the carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the celery and continue cooking for amother 3-4 minutes. Transfer everything to a plate. Add more oil, then add the ginger, turmeric and chicken. Cook for 5 minutes. Lift the meat with tongs and check for a caramelized crust around the meat, then flip the chicken. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the dried red chiles and red chili powder. Cover the pan and let cook for another 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with black pepper. Toss well, then transfer to another plate.

For the broth:

In the same pot, add the chicken stock. Return the carrots, celery and onions. Bring to a boil. 

Cook for about 30 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, regularly skim the impurities rising to the surface of the broth. Once the broth is cleared of any impurities, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Bring to a roaring boil and add the cooked chicken.


Bring the soup back to a simmer. Add the cooked pasta. Cook for another 5 minutes on low. Adjust seasoning and stir well.

Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


I purposely do not salt the broth at the beginning but wait to add salt until the carrots are fully cooked and become soft.

You can find fresh turmeric and ginger at any Asian or Indian grocery stores. 

The natural sweetness from the carrots, turnip, onions and tomato paste eliminates the need to add sugar to the broth.

Little reminder on how to make papaya paste (meat tenderizer): Peel a green papaya. Grind the cubed papaya with seeds in a blender; place about 1 tablespoon of papaya paste per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer.

For the pasta: Bring about 1 quart of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a full boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. Cook the pasta for about 6-8 minutes total. Salt the water half way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and it will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so that it doesn't stick to the bottom. Drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). Set aside in a large fine-mesh strainer until the broth is ready.

We're very lucky to get the kaffir lime leaves from my garden. They're very useful and smell so nice. If you have the space to plant a kaffir lime tree, go for it; it's a good investment if you're into Asian cooking. Kaffir lime trees are prized for their fragrant leaves, not their fruits. Don't add too much kaffir lime as it tastes very strong and will overpower the dish. You can use the remaining leaves for sweet and sour soups.

lime Leaves with Picture

I used a fresh bay leaf from the garden as well. I recommend not using the dried version as it might cloud the pickling liquid.

Bay leaf



Published By: Jacqueline Pham on December 15, 2014.


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