If you are a lover of Thai food than you know that two of their most popular dish categories are noodles dishes (rice noodles in particular), and soups. And it stands to reason, therefore, that a Thai rice noodle soup would probably showcase all that is absolutely delicious about this vibrant and clean cuisine.
If you’ve never cooked with rice noodles, let’s take a quick pause. There is nothing hard about cooking them, in the same way that there is nothing hard about cooking any kind of noodles or pasta. The difference is with rice noodles, you are usually giving them a soak in very hot water, versus adding them to a pot of boiling water.
And, as with regular noodles, the main goal is not to overcook them, as you want taut noodles with spring and bounce and elasticity versus overcooked and soggy or mushy noodles. That’s all you have to do to get great rice noodles—keep an eye on them.
There are different widths and thicknesses of rice noodles available. I used vermicelli noodles for this soup. Rice vermicelli are thin noodles (think angel hair or wheat vermicelli noodles) with a delicate texture and mild flavor that can be used for stir fries, noodle soups, and chilled noodle salads.
Fish sauce is an ingredient you will want to get to know if Thai food is going to be a regular part of your rotation. It’s an anchovy extract that is commonly used in Southeast Asia as a cooking sauce to add a salty, savory taste to dishes. It adds that aromatic something to this soup that’s hard to put a finger on, but definitely characteristic of what makes Thai cooking so unforgettable.
With its intense flavor (and even more intense smell – don’t get scared, its bark is worse than its bite, promise), just a dash or two is used to add depth and brightness to all kind of seafood or meat dishes.
The coconut milk adds nuttiness and creaminess, and is easy to find in the Asian section of the supermarket, or online. You can take the seeds out for a milder soup, or leave them in for a bit more heat. For a very spicy soup use another jalapeno. And you can substitute thighs for the breasts, just let them simmer for another 3 or 4 minutes until cooked through.
3 more chicken soups to beat the cold:
- Spicy Thai Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup
- The Easiest Shortcut Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup
- Avgolemono Soup
Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- 8 ounces rice noodle vermicelli
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts about 2 pounds
- 8 cups chicken broth
- ⅓ cup minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 1 5-ounce container fresh kale thinly sliced or chopped (about 4 cups)
- 2 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk
- 1 jalapeno minced (see Note)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Zest and juice of 2 limes
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves optional
- Cook the rice noodles according to package directions, and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking.
- Bring the chicken broth with the shallot and the ginger to a simmer in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the chicken, cover, bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and continue to simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a platter with tongs, and let cool slightly, reserving the broth. Shred when it is cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile add the kale and coconut milk to the broth and return to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the kale is tender. Add the shredded chicken, cooked rice noodles, jalapeno, fish sauce, red pepper flakes, lime zest and juice and cilantro (if desired) and cook until it returns to a simmer, about 1 more minute.
- Serve hot, in bowls.
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