Saturday 25 May 2013

Chicken Macaroni Soup

Pasta is perhaps not something you would associate Singaporean cuisine with. And I'm not talking about egg noodles here but as in bonafide Italian pasta, one made with durum wheat. So it will come as a surprise when I tell you that this is actually a very classic Singapore comfort dish. One that I have had many times while growing up. Like the Jewish have their chicken soup for when feeling under the weather, we Singaporean have this, a comforting chicken macaroni soup with all the healing properties for the soul.

The components are simple. You start off with the basic chicken stock, best made from scratch and never of those dreaded stock cubes. This stock after all, forms the cornerstone of this divine soup upon where all other flavours and texture are build on. So only the best will do. Macaroni is the classic pasta shape for this. Back in Singapore, our macaroni is of a half doughnut shape, quite unlike the typical short tubes version you get here in Britain. Although taste-wise it made no difference whatsoever, but visually, I will forever mourned the demise of our familiar curved doughnuts-shaped macaroni.

My mum's classic toppings are some shredded chicken, fried shallots and Chinese cruller a.k.a. You Char Kway. Simple but delicious and have the perfect textures and flavours balanced. You can of course go free-style and add some blanched Chinese greens like Pak choy or Choy sum, chopped spring onions, coriander sprigs, bean sprouts, sliced chillies, slivers of ginger etc. The combination is endless so go wild and try a few different combo to find your favourite. But for me, Mum's way is the best!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 free-range chicken, about 1 kg
300g dried macaroni
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the toppings:
1 Chinese cruller (you char kway), lightly toasted in the oven and cut into rings (you can get this fresh or frozen in Chinatown)
Crispy fried shallots (see my steamed yam cake for recipe)
a small handful of fresh coriander, leaves picked

Alternative toppings suggestions:
Croutons (made using sliced stale bread. Cut into cubes, drizzled with sunflower oil and toasted in oven)
Spring onion, cut into rings
Beansprouts, lightly blanched
Pak choy or other Chinese greens, lightly blanched
Red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
Ginger, skinned and thinly sliced


Place the chicken into a large pan and fill with enough water to cover the chicken. Add the black peppercorns and bring to the boil. Cover partially with a lid and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, skimming the surface occasionally to remove any impurities that floats to the top.

After this time, lift out the cooked chicken set aside to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and tear the chicken into shreds and set aside. Place the carcass back to the stock and simmer for another 30 minutes. Season with the soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste.

While the stock is gently simmering, you can use this time to prep the toppings.

For the macaroni, brings a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the package, until al dente. Drain and run it under cold tap water to stop any further cooking.

To serve, place a portion of cooked macaroni in a bowl, top with shredded chicken and ladle over some pipping hot soup. Garnish with you char kway, fried shallots and coriander leaves or any toppings of your choice.


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