With L being in preschool our family has not gone longer than 4 weeks without someone having a cold. With preschool ending soon I am hopeful that this will be our last round of colds until September. However, I had this same thought a month ago and here we again eating our favorite "cure for the common cold" soup! Go ahead and double the soup as you'll want to have leftovers!
2-1⁄2 Tbs. canola oil
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3⁄4 lb.), butterflied (cut horizontally almost all the way through and then opened like a book)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 medium shallots (about 4 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced into rings
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers discarded, halved lengthwise, and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
5-1⁄2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
3-1⁄2 oz. crimini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered (1-1⁄2 cups)
9 oz. fresh, or dried, udon noodles
1 Thai bird chile (or 1 small serrano pepper), sliced into thin rings
8 large fresh torn basil leaves; plus sprigs for garnish
1 medium lime, half juiced and half cut into wedges
1 Tbs. soy sauce; more to taste
2 medium scallions, trimmed and sliced
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1⁄2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Heat 1-1⁄2 Tbs. of the oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Season the chicken with 1⁄2 tsp. each salt and pepper, and cook without disturbing until it’s browned and releases easily from the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is browned and almost firm to the touch (just short of cooked through), 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. If short on time you can make the soup while the chicken is cooking in the oven.
Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the shallots to the pot. Sprinkle with 1⁄4 tsp. salt, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the shallots start soften, about 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the ginger and lemongrass sizzle and become fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and raise the heat to medium high. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package directions.
Use your fingers or the tines of a fork to shred the chicken. Add the chicken to the broth and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Discard the lemongrass. Stir in the torn basil, lime juice, and soy sauce. Divide the noodles among 4 large, deep bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles, and garnish with the basil sprigs and scallions, chile, carrot, and cilantro, if using. Serve with the lime wedges for squeezing and more soy sauce to taste.
*This soup is also a great for shredded, leftover roast chicken in place of the chicken breast. Just add it to the soup along with the chiles, basil, lime juice, and soy sauce.
Adapted from Fine Cooking