Happy Day After Tax Day! I’ve found that many of us that wait until the last minute to file are either 1. lazy or 2. not expecting a refund and/or filing an extension. It always breaks my heart a little to see how much we actually made in a year, and stop to think of what we have to show for it. I’m a last minute tax filer, for reasons 1 and 2 alike.
for those feeling a bit lighter in the pocket after mailing the old 1040, I bring you a penny pinching post-Tax Day Soup. Hearty, comforting, tummy filling and healthy, inspired by a picture of a noodle bowl that a friend of mine took and shared the other day, which immediately made me sad that we were having roast chicken bistro salads with Basil Buttermilk Dressing that night! The pretzel rolls on the side made me a bit happier though, and the leftover chicken means easy dinner tonight!
Some may look at this recipe and think that it’s not exactly cheap, but I’m considering it from the standpoint that I have all of the spices and sauces in my pantry, and I only need the fresh ingredients. In order to not have to break the bank if we want something like this for dinner, I slowly stock things like fish sauce, hoisin, chili oil, sesame oil, star anise, etc., buying one or two at a time if they are on sale and keeping them for a day like this. It’s much easier on my bank account to buy them over time instead of spending a small fortune all at once. I also frequent the local Mexican markets for a lot of my spices, and go to places like Cost Plus for some of the exotic stuff that is costly in other outlets. It means I can have an outrageously well-stocked, multi-national pantry and not break the bank. Being able to cook fun, exotic things at home keeps us from going out more often. For a few extra dollars per week we end up saving a lot of money in the long run.
I’m calling this ‘Pho-Style’ because any time I’ve seen someone post a soup and call it Pho they get shredded for it not being authentic. So to spare my fragile ego I’m going to call it ‘Pho-Style.’ Be gentle with me. I know it’s not perfect and authentic and is probably missing something that makes it more pho-y, but absent a noodle joint in my little town it hits the spot.
Chicken Pho-Style Soup
Serves 2 very generously
6 cups chicken stock
2 T. fish sauce
2 t. brown sugar
4 whole cloves
2 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick, broken
1″ piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 bag shirataki noodles (find them in the refrigerator section of your grocery store)
1 t. canola or coconut oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
3 c. shredded cooked chicken breast
1 c. fresh bean sprouts
1 c. small mushrooms, quartered
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c. thinly sliced basil
1/4 c.chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
1/2 cup fresh basil sprigs
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
Hoisin sauce and Sriracha sauce
Tie up the cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves in a small piece of cheesecloth or a mesh tea strainer, and set aside.
In a 4 quart soup pot, heat the 1 t. of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 3-4 minutes. Pour chicken stock into the same pot, add in the spice bag/ball. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about a half an hour. Weed out the spice bag/ball.
Meanwhile, drain, rinse and parboil noodles according to package directions and set aside.
Add the onion and mushrooms back to the pot, along with the noodles, chicken, sprouts, green onions, basil, cilantro and soy sauce. Bring to a boil for 5-6 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Dish up into two bowls, and top to taste with more cilantro, basil, jalapeno/serrano, a squeeze of lime, and a dab of hoisin and/or sriracha.