Category Archives: rice noodles

Cambodian Noodle Soup

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With the exception of my travels through the Balkans, I have yet to visit any metropolitan area where I didn’t stumble upon a pho shop.  With their steaming bowls of noodles, broth, and an endless variety of add-ins, these Thai noodle soup shops have a cult like following that make them both universal and hard not to like.  In grad school my favorite lunch was a steaming bowl of pho from the student union.  The options were endless so I could eat there every day without repeating the same bowl of soup twice.

I had never made pho before but decided to give it a try when my craving for the hot broth covered noodles got the best of me.  In browsing through recipe options I came across one in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Splendid Table is my favorite radio program on NPR.  I can even stream their broadcasts online meaning I can get my Lynn Rossetto Kasper fix while living overseas).  I was set to give the pho recipe a try then I turned the page and saw the Cambodian twist on the soup which sounded even more intriguing.  Unable to decide which version to make, I combined the best elements of both recipes to form what I present here.  You can also add or substitute ingredients as your palate or pantry dictates.

The verdict?  This soup is delicious but a lot more work than popping into your local pho shop. But if you don’t have one in close proximity to you, make this soup.  You won’t be disappointed.

CAMBODIAN NOODLE SOUP

For the broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 two inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 star anise

Freshly ground black pepper

7 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

For the soup:

8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 ounces thinly sliced top round steak

1 1/2 cups winter squash, diced

1 cup unsweetened pineapple chunks

1 medium tomato, diced

For the table salad:

10 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 sprigs Thai or other fresh basil

8 mint sprigs

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

Add-in sauces:

Asian hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

  • Place a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and then pre-heat the oven.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly distribute the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, and five grinds of black pepper over the baking sheet.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the onions begin to brown.  Scrape the mixture into a large soup pot.
  • Add the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and squash to the pot.  Cover the pot tightly and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan and cover with very hot tap water.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then divide evenly between two large soup bowls.
  • Thinly slice the steak into bite sized pieces.  (Hint:  For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer before you begin making the soup.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove it from the freezer and slice).  Evenly divide the meat between the two soup bowls.  The hot broth will cook it to a medium-rare
  • Arrange the table salad ingredients on a medium-sized platter and place on the table.
  • When the squash is tender, add the pineapple and tomatoes to the broth and stir well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to allow the broth to return to a simmer.
  • Ladle the broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately topped with the table salad and sauces of your choice.

Serves 2

Rice Noodle Bowls w/ Sausage & Kale

 

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This soup from the Yankee Kitchen Ninja has become a staple in my family. It reminds me of the giant noodle bowls I used to live off of in graduate school when money was tight, time was limited and I always seemed to be hungry. There was a noodle shop in the basement of the student union that served the best bowls of noodles and broth. The servings were huge and you could add in whatever ingredients you liked. Because of the variety of options you could eat a noodle bowl every day during the week and it never got boring. (Not that I did or anything………..).

This soup is fast, flavorful and incredibly versatile. I prefer to use chicken broth but if I only have beef on hand that works too. Rice noodles are good but any type of pasta works; spinach, mustard greens or chard can be substituted for the kale. So use whatever you have on hand. And best of all, the soup is fast and easy. What more can you ask for?

RICE NOODLE BOWLS w/ SAUSAGE & KALE

1/2 pound hot Italian sausage
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 of a large bunch of kale, coarsely chopped
5 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces rice noodles

  • Combine the sausage, ginger and cumin in a large bowl making sure the spices are evenly distributed.
  • Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the sausage mixture, stirring to break up the chunks until cooked through .
  • Add the chicken broth to the pot and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the kale, green onions, soy sauce and fish sauce and cook until the greens are just tender, 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • While the broth mixture simmers, cook the rice noodles according to package directions.
  • Drain and add the rice noodles to the soup pot. Stir well then serve.

Serves 4

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