Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Garlic Chicken Macaroni Soup

The weather has been splendid in Los Angeles of late. Last week, we were treated to mild and cool weather -- a little hazy in the morning, cool throughout the day and even a little drizzly at times. The temps are little higher this week but still cool enough where I can relish in a hearty bowl of macaroni soup. I love soup of any kind although I much prefer light and clear soups like the one I'm posting about today. My kids LOVE this soup dish too, evident by the fact that they'll gobble up big bowls of it and still want more. I've got some hungry kids I tell ya.

This is a very flexible recipe where the soup is the foundation or the base of it. You can swop out the macaroni for egg noodles, rice noodles or cellophane noodles and the veggies can be substituted with whatever you have on hand. You can also replace the chicken with turkey. Makes me think of a movie quote: "The players may have changed but the game remains the same..." (Quick, name the movie!) Anyway, you get the idea. I usually eat this soup topped off with a good spoonful of minced fried garlic which I think is key for me since I'm such a huge garlic lover. Unless you have a serious aversion to garlic, don't skip this. It gives this dish so much more flavor and texture with the little crunchy garlic bits.

The players: Shredded poached chicken, chopped carrots, choy sum, fishcake slices,
macaroni & fried garlic bits.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1 package of 16 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (or chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat)
1 cup of carrots, chopped
2 cups of choy sum, an Asian leafy vegetable (you can substitute with spinach, bok choy, chinese cabbage or regular cabbage)
1 large fishcake, lightly pan fried to reheat then sliced thinly (optional)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. ginger powder (optional -- you can also use a few slices of fresh ginger )
1/2 cup Shaoxing rice wine
2 stalks of green onion/scallion, chopped
6 cups of low sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste

Other ingredient options: canned button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, asparagus, shrimp...lots of possibilities!


In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the chicken to it, frozen or not, along with the garlic powder, onion powder, ginger powder (optional), rice wine, fish sauce and sugar. Bring it to a boil again then turn the heat down and simmer on low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken from the pot and transfer to a dish. You'll want to let it cool down so that you can shred it later. Keep the heat on so that the liquid will continue to simmer.

Next, add the carrots to the pot and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Then add the choy sum to the pot, let simmer for another minute and turn the heat off. Drizzle the sesame oil over the soup, put the lid on and let the soup sit for about 5 to 10 minutes so that the choy sum continues to cook and soften in the broth.

Bits of golden brown, fried garlic. Oh the smell...divine!

For the garlic topping/garnish:
4 large pieces of garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable oil


Heat oil in a frying pan and saute the garlic on medium to low heat. You'll want to watch it the whole time because it is very easy for the garlic to burn. With a firm grip on the handle, gently swirl the pan around in a circular motion so that the bits of garlic cook evenly in the hot oil. When they're a light shade of golden brown, remove from heat immediately and set aside. It will continue browning in the hot oil. Once cooled, transfer the oil and garlic to a bowl or storage container. 

This lovely garlic condiment can be stored for up to a week and used in other soups as well as savory porridge/congee. It's also wonderful when drizzled over some poached eggs seasoned with some soy sauce and pepper or crushed and then mixed in with some mayonnaise for a garlicky sandwich spread. Play around with it and get creative!

Fill bowls with macaroni then top with shredded chicken and fishcake. Ladle the hot soup with vegetables over that. Garnish with the chopped green onion and fried garlic bits and even a little more sesame oil if you so choose. Serve steaming hot. Relish! ~ Veggie Girl

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