Poor Jim. He's been struggling with a bit of a cold/sore throat for more than a week, and at some point apparently the sore throat went south and turned into strep throat, and doctor visit throat culture antibiotics thank god he's the one with health insurance.
Anyway… obviously a health crisis of this magnitude calls for some seriously restorative chicken soup. In this case, with a bit of pan-Asian mashup flavor. Simple, tasty, nutritious and good… and as a bonus, he felt so much better last night I could actually sleep in the same bed with him instead of abandoning ship halfway through the night to sleep on the floor upstairs rather than listen to his raspy breathing for one second more.
There are lots of options here, as befits the essential character of chicken soup.
Asian-Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves four to eight, I suppose. We all had seconds and now it's gone.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp peanut or other neutral vegetable oil
1 3" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Either one serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, or 1 tsp (or to taste) red pepper flakes
6 cups chicken broth
1 to 2 Tbsp Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce, or soy sauce if you must
1-1/2 to 2 cups sliced carrots (about 3 good-size carrots)
1 package cooked udon noodles (or other Asian noodles of your choice, precooked and shocked in cold water to stop the cooking)
4 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach (most of a bunch)
4 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional but good
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
A drizzle of sesame oil for the top, similarly optional but good
Rinse chicken thighs and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat peanut oil in a soup pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes; flip and cook until similarly well browned on the other side. Remove from pot and set aside. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat.
Return pot to medium heat. Add ginger, garlic and chili; stir furiously for one minute.
Add chicken broth, fish sauce and carrots. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until carrots are barely tender, about 7 minutes.
Add chicken to soup. Return to a simmer and poach, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Fish out chicken, let it cool slightly and chop it coarsely.
Return soup to a simmer. Stir in chopped chicken, udon noodles and spinach. Cook, stirring near-constantly, until spinach is wilted and noodles are heated through. Remove from heat; stir in lemon/lime juice and cilantro.
If you have sesame oil sitting around, drizzle a little over each bowl. If not, this soup will still be pretty darn tasty without it.