For the past few months, I’ve been completely obsessed with Thai flavors. Basil, lemongrass, chili, ginger, lime – I can’t get enough! I’ve been stuffing them into peppers and lettuce wraps, using them to flavor baked chicken wings, and adding them to my salad dressing. It was only a matter of time before my thoughts turned to soup.
The star of this Thai chicken soup is the broth, which I made in a slow cooker. If you don’t have a slow cooker, a regular stock pot will work just as well. The trick is to cook it low and slow, letting it reduce so the flavors concentrate.
To make the Thai chicken soup, I start with a standard chicken broth – perfect for flu season – kicked up a few notches with ginger, jalapeno, and lemongrass. I use chicken legs for the broth, then shred the cooked meat to add back into the soup at the end. Removing the skin from half the legs helps cut down on fat in the final dish, while browning the other half before adding them to the pot gives the broth an extra layer of rich flavor.
I wanted to keep things light and simple, but still ensure that the soup was packing plenty of nutrition, so I decided to skip pasta and use zucchini noodles instead. I love the way the compliment the flavor of the broth, soaking in all of it’s flavor.
I use a paderno spiralizer that I absolutely love, but if you don’t have one you can shred the zucchini lengthwise on the coarse side of a box grater. The noodles will be a little thinner if you use a grater, so the texture won’t be exactly the same, but they’ll taste just as good.
To serve, I like to take a cue from pho and finish the soup with fresh basil, jalapeno slices and just a touch of sambal olek, a spicy thai chili paste. Let everyone add their own for a fun, customizable experience – and so they can have it be as mild or as spicy as they like.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 pounds chicken drumsticks
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro stems
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 stalk lemongrass, lightly smashed
- 2 jalapeños, split lengthwise
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 inches fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 medium zucchini squashes, spiralized
- cilantro cilantro, fresh basil, jalapeño slices and thai chili sauce, to serve
- Heat the oil in the large skillet. Add half the drumsticks and cook until the skin is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove and discard the skin for the remaining drumsticks.
- Add the chicken, celery, carrots, cilantro stems, onion, lemongrass, jalapenos, garlic, ginger, and peppercorns to your slow cooker. Cover with water. Cook on low for 12 hours.
- Remove the chicken and shred; set aside.
- Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Discard the solids. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the shredded chicken back into the stock. Bring to a boil and add the zucchini noodles; cook 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Allow each diner to garnish their soup with cilantro, basil, jalapeno slices, and Thai chili sauce to taste.