After my one indulgent day yesterday with our Easter feast, today’s food needed to be lighter. This anise chicken noodle soup was just the thing for a grey day & to settle a stomach that’s been asking me since lunch time yesterday “what the hell happened?”. I know stomach, I’m sorry.
This soup could not have been easier to make. I always have a stash of homemade chicken stock in the freezer & I flavored the already tasty stock with a couple of star anise, some garlic cloves and ginger & let it bubble away for a few minutes for the flavors to infuse.
No matter how many times I use star anise in my cooking I always marvel at their beautiful shape not to mention their candy-like licorice scent. Just a couple of these star-shaped pods can add such a wonderful depth of flavor to soups, stews & stir-fries.
The food scene in this part of Florida is sadly lacking compared to other states I’ve lived & visited so I’m really grateful for a decent Asian & Italian market & a few fruit & veggie stands reasonably close to our home. It was at the Asian market I found these pretty, sea-like mushrooms called ‘brown beech’. They need little more prep than just having the base cut off them before a brief session in the delicious anise soup base.
I’m a big fan of miniature Asian veggies. In this recipe I used baby gai lan – Chinese broccoli, you might recognize it, it has a small white flower. The stalks stay crunchy as the leaves wilt down in the hot anise chicken noodle soup mixture. Baby bok choy would be a perfect sub or broccolini. Or even your garden variety broccoli would work in a pinch but I’m all for getting people to try new things.
Not only is this soup all cooked in one pot, it’s perfect for time-crunched souls, it’s inexpensive & it’s wonderfully nourishing. Next time you’re having chicken, cook a little extra & make this soup the following day.
It was a big slurp-fest as I twirled the incredibly long tapioca noodles around my chopsticks and gobbled down the hedonistic, soothing broth. Then my stomach drew a big sigh & said “aaaah, that’s better”.
- 2 oz (56g) tapioca noodles
- boiling water
- 3 to 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 star anise
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised
- 2 inch (5cm) piece ginger, peeled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into short batons
- 4 small Chinese broccoli (gai lan)
- 3 oz brown beech (or enoki) mushrooms, trimmed
- 6 oz (170g) sliced cooked chicken
- 2 to 3 chopped fresh small red chilies
- Place noodles in medium, heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain.
- Place stock, anise, garlic, ginger and oyster sauce in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered for 10 minutes to infuse the flavor. Remove star anise, garlic and ginger.
- Add carrots to stock. Cover and cook 3 minutes or until almost tender. Add broccoli, mushrooms and chicken. Cover and cook 3 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
- Divide noodles between two bowls. Divide soup mixture between bowls. Sprinkle with chilies.