Thursday, May 20, 2010

Simple Chicken Soup (Nilagang Manok)

This simple but nourishing soup (pictured at the noon and 3 o'clock marks) served as a light dinner for two people fighting off a bug, a breakfast and three days of lunch. A few splashes of salty, savory fish sauce make it sing, so make sure you have your favorite (nuoc mam, patis, whatever) on hand.

My [vegetable] mise en place, let me show you it

The recipe can vary widely depending on  your mood and what you have on hand (for example, I replaced the traditional cabbage with baby bok choy); the following  is just what went into this particular iteration. I forgot to separate and weigh the potatoes and green beans (which came with a tomato in a farmer's market grab bag), so all measurements are approximate.

  • 2-2.5 lbs. chicken thighs (five plump ones in this case)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 head garlic, cloves peeled and smashed (about 7 fat cloves)
  • 3 young onions, sliced, with greens washed and tied together
  • 1-1.5 tsp. salt
  • 5-6 young potatoes,  quartered
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chunked
  • 10-12 oz. green beans, sliced
  • 6 baby bok choy, stems and leaves separated and roughly chopped
  • salt to taste
  • patis to taste (I like about a tbsp. per small bowl)
Put the chicken, water, garlic, onions and onion greens in a large pot. Bring to a boil then simmer till chicken's fairly well cooked but not yet done, about 20 mins. Remove greens and discard.

Add salt, potatoes and carrots. Cook till the vegetables start to soften, about 7-10 minutes. Add green beans and bok choy stems; cook till beans are becoming tender, but still have a bite to them (about 5-7 minutes).

Taste and adjust seasoning. Add baby bok choy leaves, cover and remove from heat. Serve with rice and patis on the side.

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