I know it’s blazing out there lately, but this soup is full of crunchy veggies and healthy chicken – and is ethereally light, compared to many hearty soups more suited for winter.
This particular dish is what you get when you add noodles to traditional Thai Tom Yum Soup. The idea for it came to me one Sunday in the bluster of January while I was sitting at one of the communal benches at Republic restaurant in NYC’s Union Square (my old neighborhood before giving up Gramercy Park for Chelsea and then Washington Heights). So I’ve ordered the noodle dish, and the guy across the table from me (we’re all strangers – it’s a communal table, remember?) ordered the Tom Yum soup – one of my all-time faves, and which, on its own is very satisfying. But I was craving noodles, and mine came with a creamy coconut sauce, with chicken and some vegetables.
Seeing the two dishes together made me think that the ideal meal would be a combination of the noodles with the soup, not unlike, well, NOODLE SOUP! So I mused to my neighbor, “I bet if we combined your soup with my noodles it would be amazing,” (or something along those lines). He looked at me like I was some kind of perv. His loss.
A few days later at home in my wonderful little Gramercy Park kitchen I made the dish. I intentionally simplified the traditional recipe for Tom Yum, which has more ingredients and is therefore a bit more involved. My version will get you a great, but simpler facsimile. And I am not joking when I say this noodle soup is addictive. You’ve been warned. Here’s the recipe.:
MY SIMPLE-AS-HELL TOM YUM NOODLE SOUP
- 4 limes
- 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (as hot as you like – I like medium-to-hot for this)
- 6 cups of strong, flavorful-on-its-own chicken stock (which you can make yourself if you can’t find it in the local bodega)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
- 1 pound of linguine or fettuccine noodles (your choice – I’ve used both; either works well)
- 1 big or 2 average red bell peppers, cut into strips (about a quarter inch thick at most)
- 8 ounces of white button mushrooms, sliced thin (about an eighth inch)
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 bunch cilantro, loosely chopped, separated into one big batch and one small batch for garnish
- Zest the limes into a small bowl before juicing them in a separate bowl; set aside.
- In a deep stock pot, combine the red pepper flakes, chicken stock, lime zest (not the juice), and sliced chicken, and bring to a boil.
- Add the noodles, broken in half.
- When the noodles are al dente (8-10 minutes – don’t overcook) add the coconut milk, red bell pepper strips, mushrooms (the vegetables should heat through but not fully cook; they should have some crunch when served), the lime juice, and the big batch of cilantro. Stir.
- Serve in deep bowls; top with chopped cilantro from the small batch
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