Here’s a soup I came up with when I had a refrigerator full of leftover vegetables that I wanted to use up. I used some of the spices that we had brought back to Japan from our recents trip home. Can’t get smoked paprika or chipotle chile powder? No problem, feel free to use regular paprika and chili powder instead. The spices give it a comforting southwestern flavor. It’s only mildy spicy, but add more chile if you like it hot. To give the soup more visual appeal, I sliced the vegetables into matchsticks or long thin slices, but if you want to use square dice it will still taste the same. I used the veggies I had on hand, so this recipe has an Asian/Southwestern crossover feel to it with the daikon, hakusai, and cilantro. Since this is a “use it up” dish, the vegetables you use are totally up to you. I was thinking this soup might be very tasty with some zucchini next time.
Asian/Southwestern Chicken Soup
by Laurel S
1 whole chicken leg (preferably with the bone) or 2 chicken thighs
1 onion, sliced
½ carrot, sliced
1 or 2 ribs celery, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 ½ inch piece of daikon, sliced
½ cup frozen corn kernels
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon powdered chipotle chile
¼ teaspoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ to ½ cup sake, wine, or beer
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock, broth, or water
handful of green beans sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 tomato quartered and then sliced
2 large leaves hakusai (napa cabbage), sliced into ¾ inch strips
chopped green onions
salt and pepper
Season the chicken with salt. Heat a dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add a bit of olive oil and brown the chicken. This is to help make it flavorful, so you don’t have to cook it all the way through. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium. If the chicken had its skin on, there should be plenty of oil in the bottom of the pan. If you used skinless chicken you may need to add a bit more oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper to the pan. Cook about 5 to 10 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the daikon and corn kernels. Use a spoon to push the vegetables to the side of the pot, exposing the surface of the pot in the center. Sprinkle garlic, tomato paste, and spices on the exposed spot. Stir for a minute allowing the spices to toast in the heat, but be careful not to let them burn. Add the sake, wine, or beer and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot to mix the browned bits and spices into the vegetable mix.
Add bay leaves and chicken stock, broth, or water. You may need to add more liquid to get a soupy consistency. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Shred the chicken and add it to the soup. If you have chicken bones add them to the pot too. Simmer the soup for 10 to 20 minutes until everything is cooked through and the broth tastes good. Add the green beans, tomato, and hakusai. Cook for a few more minutes to soften the vegetables. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro and green onions. Taste the broth again and season to taste (I had to add some lemon juice here because the tomatoes were very sweet so the broth needed some acid to perk up the flavor). Serve.