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Friday, September 16, 2011

Behind Every Great Meal There's a Great Soup:Kung Pao Chicken Soup

A year down the road from surgery and I find I can eat pretty much anything I want. I've been lucky not to have too many problems with "regular" food. Well, except pancakes. I had kind of an ugly break up with pancakes. (It was me, not them.)

What do I really want now that I can eat whatever? Still soup! I love the way soup makes me feel: it's comforting, feels good on my stomach, and since I usually eat it out of a coffee mug, warms up my perpetually cold hands. 

But just because I crave soup all the time doesn't mean that I want to forget about everything else. BBQ chicken is still awfully tasty, you know. So here's the thing... I don't see why I can't take some of those traditional foods and turn them into soup. I want to have my cake and eat it too! Metaphorically, at least.... Cake Soup doesn't actually sound very yummy.

Today's soup came from a recent trip to the grocery store. There's a Chinese Food Buffet right in the front of the store and it usually smells great. Granted, it's a grocery store, so it doesn't always taste great, but the smell will suck you in every time. I had this thought, "We haven't had Chinese food in a really long time." Which was immediately followed by this thought, "Ooooh, I bet I could make a SOUP outta that!"

Obsession is perhaps too mild a word...

Gather the ingredients... Kung Pao Chicken Soup!

Sauteeing the garlic and red pepper flakes... sticking your nose over
the pot at this stage and sniffing appreciatively will cause
you to cough. A lot. Don't ask how I know that.

A note about broccoli slaw... I LOVE this stuff! I always
hated the crumbly texture of the heads of broccoli. Blech! With the slaw
I get the flavor, a satisfying crunch, and all the prep work is done for me. Score!

It turned out great! But it won't work in one of those little take-out containers very well...

I found this to have a pleasant, but not searing, heat. If you like your kung pao chicken to pack more of a punch simply increase the amount of red pepper flakes or even stir a bit of sriracha into the soup at the end. Also, I did not add salt to the soup at any point. Between the broth, soy sauce, and the peanuts, there's plenty of built-in seasoning!

Kung Pao Chicken Soup
makes 7 cups

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 16 oz.)
1 T. rice wine
1 T. plus 1/4 c. soy sauce - divided
1 T. vegetable oil
1 T. sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 t. red pepper flakes
12 oz. bag of broccoli slaw
1 T. grated fresh ginger
1/2 c. chopped green onions
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. dry-roasted peanuts plus additional for garnish
1 T. rice vinegar

Marinate the chicken thigh pieces in the refrigerator with 1 T. rice wine and 1 T. soy sauce for about 20 minutes.

Put 1 cup of dry-roasted peanuts into food processor and blend together until it forms a thick paste. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in soup pot until hot, but not smoking. Stir in garlic and sautee briefly, just until fragrant. Add in red pepper flakes and sautee 30 seconds longer. Add in the broccoli slaw and sautee together until broccoli has softened slightly, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in ginger and green onions and sautee 1 minute more.

Add chicken broth, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and the peanut paste to the pot, stirring frequently to break up the paste. Bring to a simmer. Drain chicken, and add to pot, simmering gently for about 10 minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through. Stir in 1 T. rice vinegar.

Serve with additional chopped peanuts sprinkled on top.

Now, did someone mention BBQ Chicken?


  1. So Tasty! The only problem is I'm at my house now, and can't get another bowl.
    More heat than I thought there would be. It tastes just exactly the way the grocery store chinese smells!

    Thanks Soup-a-woman

  2. Glad you liked it! I thought it tasted better the next day, although it wasn't quite as pretty. The broccoli didn't maintain a vibrant green overnight. Definitely satisfied my Chinese food craving, though!

  3. Have not tried your recipes yet, but am a foodie and a good cook and they look to be delicious! I love your humor and, like you, love soup and the comfort it brings. I crave it starting this time of the year. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Anon, it is the soupy time of year, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by my newbie blog efforts! :)

  5. One word - YUM!
    It was so delicious I can't wait to get home to have another bowl!!!

  6. I love soup. I am looking to have the gastric sleeve next summer. I am so glad I found you. Thank you for sharing, I look forward to following you-

  7. I'll be following you Someday... good luck with your journey!

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with you about the broccoli slaw! Love that stuff!