Homey Chicken Soup

Classic Chicken Broth


9 cups water
1 whole 3- to 3½ pound chicken, fat trimmed and cut into 10 or 12 pieces
1 cup rice wine or sake
6 slices fresh ginger, each the size of a quarter, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
6 whole scallions, ends trimmed, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife

1 small head Chinese cabbage (preferably Napa) (about 1½ pounds)
1 teaspoon canola or corn oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
½ pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, and cut into quarters
2 ounces bean threads (cellophane noodles), softened in hot water to cover (if unavailable, substitute 1/3 pound thin rice noodles or vermicelli, softened in warm water to cover)
2 teaspoons salt

  1. Prepare the Classic Chicken Broth by putting the water with the chicken, rice wine or sake, ginger slices, and scallions in a large pot and bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1½ hours . Remove the chicken pieces and skim the broth to remove any impurities.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut away the stem of the cabbage and discard. Cut the cabbage in half and cut the leaves into 2-inch squares, separating the leafy sections from the tough ones. Place the cabbage sections in a bowl. Set by the stove with the shiitake mushrooms.
  3. Heat a Dutch oven or casserole, add the oil, and heat until very hot. Add the garlic cloves and the harder sections of the cabbage and stir-fry over high heat about 1 minute. Add the rice wine or sake, cover, and continue cooking about 5 minutes, until tender. Add the leafier sections, the shiitake mushrooms, and the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 20 minutes uncovered.
  4. Drain the bean threads and cut them into 4-inch lengths. Add them to the soup and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the soup and stir in the salt. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.

© 2008 Nina Simonds “A Spoonful of Ginger”

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