January always seems like the quietest of months. The holidays are over, and the snow on the ground feels like a blanket on top of ambient noise. It's a month that makes the choice to stay in, curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book, feel like the right one, no matter what other urgent tasks need doing.
But even on the couch, you're bound to get hungry at some point. And if you're anything like me, after weeks of indulging in all the decadent foods that November and December bring with them, in January I feel the need for something clean-tasting, vibrantly flavored and brothy. Hello, Ginger Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup.
Homemade soup has never been easier to make. Garlic and a generous amount of fresh ginger are finely chopped before being briefly sautéed in oil. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are added and simmered with the stock until tender enough to easily shred into bite-size pieces.
While the chicken cools enough to shred, egg noodles are added and cooked with chopped bok choy and sliced shiitake mushrooms.
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage that tastes a little like spinach, with the crunch of water chestnuts. And in this dish, that crunch adds a welcome texture.
Shiitake mushrooms, another Asian vegetable, are mild in flavor and pleasantly chewy when cooked. They can be found in the produce section of the grocery store, packaged whole and sliced. You can often buy them in bulk, which is typically less expensive. When cooking with shiitakes, you have to remove the stem, as they are tough and won't soften during the cooking process.
Once the noodles and vegetables are cooked until just tender, the chicken is added back in, along with a splash of fresh lemon juice.
The result is a sunny bowl of soup that's a delicious balance of acid from the lemon juice, spiciness from the ginger and saltiness from the broth. If you wanted to inject a little heat to the equation, adding a thinly sliced hot Fresno chile with the other vegetables would be a welcome addition.
Ginger Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup
Note: This quick and ultra-easy soup, loaded with tender chicken, noodles and veggies swimming in a bright and flavorful broth, tastes like sunshine in a bowl. From Meredith Deeds.
• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
• 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 8 c. homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
• 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 3 c. uncooked wide egg noodles
• 2 medium baby bok choy, coarsely chopped
• 5 oz. (about 2 1/2 c.) sliced shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded
• 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
In a 5-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Add the broth, chicken and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until chicken is tender. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cool slightly. Shred into bite-size pieces.
Add noodles to the broth and cook for 3 minutes. Add the bok choy and sliced mushroom caps and continue to cook until noodles are al dente and vegetables are tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt or lemon juice, if necessary.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.