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Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup

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Sniffles, sneezing, coughing, and general crabbiness are still being passed around our house.  Time for chicken soup!  Many years ago, when I was first diagnosed allergic to wheat, I started looking for a safe chicken noodle soup, and there wasn’t one out there.  Even the can or chicken and rice soup off the grocery shelves has suspect ingredients.  Maybe there are some now, but I doubt they’re pepper free.  You know when they list “seasonings” on the label that likely that means “salt and pepper” at the very least.

At the same time I was developing this recipe the most readily available noodles were rice sticks.  Those skinny Asian rice noodles inspired me to go for a garlic-ginger flavor to mach the origins of the noodles.  Garlic is heralded as nature’s antibiotic.  Ginger is great for coughs and sore throats, too.  This is the best tasting cough syrup I have ever taken.

The white part of the bok choy is very similar to celery, but you can still add celery if you like. I did this time.

Chicken Noodle Soup
This recipe fills my eight quart stock pot to the brim without adding the noodles, so be prepared for plenty leftovers!  This soup also freezes well if you wait to add the rice noodles until you thaw it.  Actually, I usually put the prepared noodles into each individual bowl and pour the soup over it.  Store the leftover noodles separate from the rest of the soup to preserve the texture of the noodles.

Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup

1.5 lb. Boneless-skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts), diced while still partially frozen
2 T. olive oil
1 bunch bok choy, whites and greens separated, both chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 med. Onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. ground ginger (or a 1 inch knob of fresh if you have it)
4-6, diced in large chunks
4 oz (5-7) mushrooms, sliced
1-2 Tbsp salt, to taste
1 bunch green onion, sliced (optional, for garnish)
8 oz. rice noodles, softened in hot water

Heat oil over medium heat in your largest stock pot.  Saute garlic, ginger, white parts of the bok choy (and maybe celery, too), onions, and carrots for about five minutes. Sprinkle generously with salt (remember this is a big pot, and I’m not adding broth or bouillon cubes.  This is the only salt in the whole pot).  Add chicken and continue to cook for a five more minutes.

Fill stock pot with water up to about 2/3 full or to cover the chicken and vegetables.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.

Start a tea kettle to boil with water to soften the rice noodles.  Place the noodles in a large glass bowl and pour hot water over the noodles.  Cut the softened noodles a few times with the kitchen shears.

Add the mushrooms to the pot to simmer.

** This next step is really optional.  I just like the flavor and texture of the zucchini if you saute it before it goes in the pot.
While waiting for things to boil.  Heat a little extra oil in a skillet over med-high.   In 2-3 shifts ( don’t crowd the pan, or they won’t brown), saute the zucchini with a pinch of salt until lightly browned on all sides. Then add to the simmering pot.**

If you don’t want to brown the zucchini first, then just add them to the pot at the same time as the mushrooms.

Once the mushrooms and zucchini are tender, add the bok choy greens to the pot and simmer until wilted.

Place a small serving of noodles in the bottom of a bowl and ladle soup over the top.  Garnish with green onions if desired.

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