I often look to chicken soup for comfort and a great easy meal. My mother’s German-Jewish chicken soup of my youth had long thin noodles, chicken, more noodles, carrots and some other little chunks of token vegetables. It was loving, healing, tasty, and I adored it. I was looking to up the ante health-wise and still create a soup that was equally delicious and cozy. And also quick to make.
I try to have frozen containers of homemade chicken broth on hand so that I can experiment on the spur of the moment when it gets cool here (yes, I know, it’s Hawaii…how cold can it get?) or someone is sick. This ginger-scented soup is a perfect example and was inspired by a recipe on Epicurious. Made with good chicken broth it’s homey and soothing. The shiitake mushrooms and ginger add a little zing and variety and the vegetables add color and flavor. You’ve got bok choy for your leafy greens, shiitake mushrooms and fresh ginger for a wealth of health benefits, and chicken broth for your amazingly nutritious superfood.
This soup makes a delicious one-pot dinner. Leftovers are also wonderful for a quick lunch and you can add a scrambled egg (stirred into the hot soup) for breakfast. So I’d recommend doubling the recipe.
Do you want to know more about the health benefits of ginger and shiitake mushrooms? I did. Here’s what I found out –
Ginger has a variety of powerful therapeutic and preventive effects and has been used for thousands of years for the treatment of hundreds of ailments from colds to cancer. It is known to be an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and anti-cancer agent; as well as protect against other diseases.
Mushrooms in general have a wealth of health benefits. Shiitake mushrooms are mainly known for their immune system support. They contain lentinan, which strengthens the immune system, helping to fight off disease and infection. The American Cancer Society says lentinan is believed to stop or slow tumor growth. Shiitake mushrooms also contain a compound called D-Eritadenine which helps lower cholesterol and supports cardiovascular health. Shiitakes are also a good source of iron and antioxidants.
- 6 ounces fresh or 1 1/2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
- 8 cups homemade chicken broth or good quality store-bought broth
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced (no need to peel, just cut off really rough areas and knobs)
- 3 medium carrots, sliced into matchsticks (no need to peel)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce*
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari sauce for gluten free
- 1/8 teaspoon chili oil * or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil *
- 3 cups thinly sliced bok choy (greens plus some of the tender stem)
- 4 teaspoons rice vinegar*
- 2 green onions, sliced thin (optional)
- * Available in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets
- For fresh shiitakes: remove stems and slice caps. For dried shiitakes: cover with boiling water and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Slice, if they don't already come sliced. Set aside.
- Bring broth, whole chicken breasts and ginger to boil in a large pot. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken breasts to a plate and shred or chop when cool enough to handle. Return chicken to the pot. Add carrots, sliced shiitakes, fish sauce, soy or tamari sauce, chili oil, and sesame oil and simmer until carrots are tender. Add bok choy and simmer until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in rice vinegar, ladle into bowls, and serve sprinkled with green onions.
- This soup can be made with frozen, unthawed chicken broth and chicken breasts. Put frozen broth and chicken in a pot. Turn heat to medium-low, cover pot, and allow broth to melt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer breasts until almost cooked through. Add the ginger and proceed with the rest of the recipe.