Make Ahead

Chicken Soup with Onions and Garlic for the Endless Winter

March 17, 2014
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4, with soup left over
Author Notes

Freely adapted from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's extraordinary Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet. Their version starts with a whole chicken; it also uses five whole cilantro plants, roots and all. It's wonderful. This is my more casual, use-what-I-have variation. It uses the random pieces of chicken that I have in my freezer and whatever cilantro I have handy; it also adds noodles for good measure. —Nicholas Day

What You'll Need
  • 1 small chicken or whatever chicken you have frozen for stock (if you use assorted parts, you will want a couple of pounds worth)
  • 3 scallions, trimmed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stalks and roots included (optional: do not scour the city for cilantro with the roots still on; feel free to make without any cilantro)
  • 2 carrots, halved
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 small shallots, or 4 large shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound egg noodles (straight wheat noodles are fine, though)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  1. In a large pot, place the chicken or chicken parts, scallions, cilantro (if using), carrots, and black peppercorns, and add about three quarts of water. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer, uncovered. If you're using a whole chicken, remove it when the meat is tender, after about an hour and a half. Set the chicken aside to cool. If using chicken parts with very little meat, you can let the broth simmer for longer, if you like. When the broth is ready, strain and set aside the chicken parts. (I like to gently press the cooked carrots through the sieve, which adds some body to the broth.)
  2. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, strip off the meat into shreds and set aside in a bowl. If using chicken parts, strip off any meat that remains. (A chicken back, for example, hides a surprising amount of meat.)
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  4. When the broth is strained, add the fish sauce and salt and taste. Bring the broth back to a simmer, add the shallots, garlic, and onions, and cook for about 15 or 20 minutes, until the alliums are soft and sweet. In the separate pot of boiling water, cook the noodles until al dente.
  5. Serve the soup in large bowls, placing some meat and a small clump of noodles in each bowl and then pouring the soup over it. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if using.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • MaryAlice
  • linda haslach
    linda haslach
  • Nicholas Day
    Nicholas Day
  • melissa
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

9 Reviews

melissa February 16, 2016
mr. day, are you based in NYC? i know you said not to scour the city for cilantro roots -- but they are essential to thai cooking and i was wondering if you knew what shops actually do sell cilantro with the roots intact.
MaryAlice April 13, 2014
This was ok, but I really wish I hadn't added the carrot puree to the stock. I found it too sweet.
linda H. March 30, 2014
I skipped over the unending commentary that this site seems to require… went right to the ingredients. Looks superb and will try it post haste (they don't seem to recognize Post(e) haste!!) Thank you for "post(e)ing"!!
judith March 30, 2014
you're very funny. love the arctic line! and the recipe sounds yummy! write that book, or any book, yourself.
noa.wheeler March 30, 2014
This sounds delicious! But what does "one head of garlic peeled and halved" mean? You can't peel a head of garlic if you're not separating the cloves--do you mean a head's worth of garlic cloves, peeled and halved?
Nicholas D. March 30, 2014
Yes, with the cloves separated, exactly. Thanks for making that clear.
Lydia March 30, 2014
what is fish sauce?
Rick W. March 30, 2014
It usually comes in a bottle like Soy sauce. Used in many a Thai dish :)
Gregory W. March 30, 2014
I couldn't print the recipe. Greg Weider