Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A very different post: the best soup recipe ever (that is not an exaggeration!)

Excuse me while I take a huge detour from my normal blogging voice. 

Today,  I bring you.... 

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup (or Quateel as we call it in my family.)

(Aka the best soup ever)

I can see that it might take some convincing for you to try this. So let me give you some back story . 

My dad used to live in Thailand. When he moved back to the States, and married my mom, he taught her how to cook authentic Thai food. And so, in short, I was really spoiled growing up. 

We never had this recipe written down. It's one of those things where I watched my mom make it a million times, and now I make it all the time for my family. 

This is Ryan's favorite meal ever. And every time I tell the kids we're having soup for dinner, Maddy wants to know if we're having the "chicken soup that you put sugar in." The sugar, I think, is her favorite part. 

To me, this soup tastes more amazing than pho ... And I like a good pho. The best part -- leftovers!! 

Don't be off put by the many steps and ingredients. Honestly, this is one of the easiest meals ever. 

(Hint...You don't have to make everything from scratch. It just tastes better that way. And it is cheaper. If you must cheat to save some time, get yourself a rotesserie chicken a lot of store-bought chicken broth.)
So first, ingredients...

(Disclaimer ... I have never seen this recipe written anywhere. So all of my amounts or measurements are really more like "ish." So 5 is more like 5ish... You get the idea.)

For the broth:

A whole chicken, bone-in (or chicken breasts on the bone)

2 large onions

6-8 stalks of celery

4-5 carrots

5 cloves of garlic, smashed

Salt (please don't ask me how much.)

For the soup:

Rice noodles 

(Do yourself a favor and go to the Asian food market for these and the fish sauce. Do NOT pay more than $1.50 for a bag of noodles!)

Fish Sauce


Diced jalapeños, with juice

Lemons or limes, cut up

Chopped cilantro

Bean sprouts 

Another bulb of garlic

Olive oil 

Red pepper flakes

Crushed peanuts

Ok. All set with your groceries?  Now to make the broth and cook the chicken.

Fill your stock pot about 2/3 full with water. Add chicken, garlic, onions, celery and carrots. Bring to a boil. Add salt.

(Here I was in a pinch and used frozen chicken-breasts. Bone-in is better though.)

Boil for, I don't know... Forever? 

Ok, not really forever. But your chicken needs to be done (clear juice) and your broth a rich color. If needed, take out chicken to cool and continue cooking broth until it's a nice rich color. 

Once your broth is to the right color/taste, pull out the veggies. You can discard them... Or blend them in the food processor for baby food. 

Once the chicken is cooled enough, shred or cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

Once you've gotten your stock going, pull out your dried rice noodles. Put them in a large bowl, and cover with warm water. Keep soaking until you are just about ready to eat.

Next, time to make the best condiment EVER... Garlic oil. 

Take your full bulb of garlic, and mince it. (Must be fresh. Do not use pre-minced garlic. It doesn't taste the same.) I just use my Pampered Chef garlic press for this. And pre-peeled garlic from Trader Joe's. 

Add olive oil. You want a fair amount in the pan. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden. As SOON as garlic is golden, take it off the heat. It goes from done to burned in the blink of an eye. 


Hint. This keeps forever on your pantry.
Brush onto pizza crust, dip your bread into it, add to stirfrys or pasta ... The sky's the limit with this stuff.    

Time to prep the rest of the soup. 

This soup is a "make it by the bowl" kind of deal. So your job is to prep everything and lay it out ... And everyone adds the ingredients to their taste. Your soup buffet should look something like this:

You should have: 

Lemon or lime wedges 
Crushed peanuts
Red pepper flakes
Chopped cilantro 
Sliced green onions
Diced jalapeños in their juice
Garlic oil
Bean sprouts
Fish sauce

Now, drain your noodles. Take about half of them, and place them in the boiling broth for about 5 min. Do not overcook, or they will be mush. Seriously. Set your timer for this one.

(My mom likes to place her big metal colander in the broth to cook the noodles in, so the noodles don't stay in the broth and get mushy. I don't have such a contraption. So into the pot mine go.)

Put cooked noodles in each bowl. 

Add a squeeze of lemon or lime, a small spoonful of sugar, spoonful of crushed peanuts, handfuls of the veggies, some jalepenjos to taste (WITH a spoonful of the juice), a spoonful of the fried garlic oil (definitely get a good bit of garlic in that spoonful), and red pepper to taste. Add your chicken.  Add a squirt or two of fish sauce (go less, taste, then add more if you want.) 

Top your bowl off with a ladle or two of broth. Taste ... If you want more garlic, add it in! Too sweet? Put more lemon in. Not salty enough? A tad more fish sauce. Play with it till you get the flavor you love. 

And once it's perfect ... I promise, you'll be in love! 

Bon Appetit! 


  1. Hi! I finally got a chance to try this recipe, and my family loved it! My 3 y/o was iffy but enjoyed the broth and noodles. I was in the military when I was younger, and the flavor and smell took me right back to my time in Asia, including my painfully brief time in Thailand! Who knew I liked fish sauce so much?! All these years I've been missing it and didn't even know what it was. :) Thanks for sharing!