Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Aarti Cooks: Tiger vs. Dragon Soup

I have so much to say about this recipe that I don't even know where to start!

First off, this one is for all the people who have told me that they are intimidated by the recipes I post. This one is wicked easy. Really. You cannot screw this up. And it's really cheap to make. Nothing fancy here. I'm talking to you, Genie.

Secondly, the name of this soup comes from a little-known fact: Did you know that Indians loooove Chinese food? When I was in India number of years ago, I noticed that the restaurants in Bombay fell into two categories: Indian, or Chinese. We might be competitors on the world market (Dragon vs. Tiger!) but in the kitchen, we're BFFs. In fact, when I was scouring the internet to see how other people make it, I found recipes on a number of Indian websites. Methinks this might be an Indian kitchen classic.

Anyway, Dad would get us take-away from a restaurant called the Golden Dragon, and we would always order the sweetcorn and chicken soup. I don't even remember what else he would get. All I can remember is that sweet sweet soup.

Then the restaurant burned down. We were left to fend for ourselves.

Enter stage right: Mum! (Cue trumpets!) She came up with a recipe, which became the backbone for this one.

I make this recipe at least once every winter, as soon as one of us gets the sniffles. Grandma's chicken soup might be good, but *this* one tastes way better. In addition to chicken soup's inherent healing properties, the hefty amounts of fresh ginger not only open up your nasal passages and soothe your throat, it also soothes your tummy. Add corn, with its soft, enveloping flavor and, combined with soup's inherent warm-you-to-the-core properties, CTHD soup leaves you feeling hugged, inside and out.

This is my favorite soup in the world, hands down. I hope you try it.

But first... a few notes:

1) Food snobs look away! This recipe calls for... duh, duh, duuuuuhhhhh: chicken bouillon cubes. Yup. I've tried not to use them, tried using real chicken stock, tried the liquid chicken concentrate that comes in packets... nothing works as well as these little babies. Sad but true. Must be all the sodium. You can bypass 'em if you like, but I re-introduced these babies to the soup last night, and it was the best batch I've made in a long time.

2) Chicken. I use two chicken breasts on the bone. It keeps your chicken moist, and the bones make the broth taste even better. At the store, it'll say "chicken split breast with ribs". That's the kind you want. Alternatively, you can use plain chicken breasts. They'll cook much quicker though, so check 'em after 10-15 minutes. If you prefer dark meat, I used to use chicken thighs (with the bone) but they are a pain in the butt to shred once cooked. You can also cut a whole skinned chicken; you won't need all that meat, but you'll have some lovely poached chicken that you can use the rest of the week in salads and quesadillas.

Tiger vs. Dragon Soup: Sweetcorn, Chicken & Ginger soup

You'll need this stuff:

10 cups water
1 leek, green parts too if you have 'em, sliced in half and thoroughly washed
1 carrot, peeled and chopped in two
1" hunk of fresh ginger left whole, plus additional 3" hunk, minced
2 dried bay leaves (optional)
2 chicken breasts on the bone
3 14oz cans creamed corn
1-2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp sesame oil
4 spring onions, chopped finely, white and green parts (reserve some green for final garnish)
4 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp water
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
Soy sauce to taste

1) Pour 10 cups of water into a big stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat. While it's coming to temp, throw in the leek, carrot, 1" hunk of ginger and bay leaves. Lightly season.

2) Skin the chicken breasts, remove excess fat, and once the water comes to a boil, throw the chicken breasts into the pot. Allow the whole lot to come back to a boil, then turn it down and simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes, until chicken is cooked and tender.

3) Extract the breasts and allow to cool. Strain the stock, and discard the leeks, carrots, ginger and bay leaves.

4) Return the stock to medium heat. Add creamed corn, crumbled stock cubes (I use two), 3" hunk of minced ginger, spring onions and sesame oil. Allow to simmer, while you remove the chicken from the bone and shred finely using a fork. If this is too much work for you, you can just slice it really thinly.

5) Bring the soup to a boil. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the corn starch with the cold water, until dissolved. Add to the soup whilst stirring. Allow to boil until it's thickened. If it doesn't thicken, add another cornstarch slurry, this time using only 1tbsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp water.

6) In another small bowl, beat the egg whites with a little water. Stir the soup in circles as you add the egg whites in a steady stream; it should form pretty white wisps on the surface of the soup. It didn't work for me this time for some reason, so I don't have a photo of it. Meh!

7) Add the chicken and rice wine vinegar. Heat gently through. Taste for seasoning.

8) Serve, with a splash of soy sauce and some of the reserved green portion of the spring onions in the middle. Flu be gone! Karate chop!



mandi said...

this looks really yummy! Wondering if you have any ideas to substitute for some/all of the corn? (my cooking buddy hates creamed corn...)

aartilla the fun said...

hmmm, does he like fresh corn? you could try making it that way (or with nibblets), and you could try fudging the creaminess with cream...

hmmm, that is a good question. i'll keep thinking about it.

aartilla the fun said...

you could do one can of creamed corn, and one can of nibblet corn. that might work...

Rosesq said...

Nice Title Aaru!! The soup looks so good!! For the egg whites to curdle into stringy bits, the temperature of the soup has to be piping hot, so as the egg whites hit the soup, they will curdle and the swirling motion will make them into strings or flowers as the Chinese say.

Rosesq said...

Aaru the soup looks so good. For the eggwhites to curdle into stringy bits, the temperature of the soup has to be piping hot, so as the eggwhites hit the soup, they will curdle and the swirling motion will make into strings or flowers as the Chinese say.

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha...."niblets".

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm... this looks delicious! Alright, I'm still slightly intimidated, but I'll try this one. Gotta start somewhere, right? :)

annie said...

Yummy stuff! I am so glad I found your blog!

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