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23 May 2011

Chicken Sotanghon Soup

Chicken sotanghon soup is one of those wonderful concoctions that I want to have on a cold, rainy day. It's a hearty mid-afternoon snack.  The sotanghon noodles are quite slippery but it's fun to slurp it up!  Sotanghon soup is so popular that one can find an instant version in bowls at convenience stores in the Philippines, waiting for a quick pour of hot water and ready in a few minutes. It even comes with free crackers (SkyFlakes is the preferred brand)!

Still, nothing beats the home-made appeal of sotanghon soup. It's really easy to prepare, so if you have a lazy afternoon and you'd like to pamper your family and friends, have a go at it!

Traditionally, the sotanghon soup has a distinct orange colour which is derived from using achuete. We do not have achuete at our immediate disposal though, but this recipe tastes great just the same. Sotanghon is available in Asian stores.


For the stock:
1.5liters / 6 cups water
1/2 kilo chicken meat (there's only three of us at home so we're making just a small batch)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
a stalk of celery with leaves, roughly chopped
a sachet of whole peppercorns

Veggies, etc:
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 head of garlic, crushed and chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stick
5-7 pieces button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium carrot, julienned (cut into thin sticks)
1 small cabbage, thinly chopped
1 small bell pepper, thinly sliced
250g sotanghon (cellophane noodles)

To taste and garnish
chicken broth cube (only if needed)
fish sauce (patis)
ground pepper
green onion, chopped

As with any soup, the thing that makes or breaks the dish is the...um.. soup itself! We can easily make use of pre-packed chicken stock, but since we are going to boil fresh chicken meat, we might as well make use of the fresh stock!

Pour the water into a pot, along with the chicken (chopped into more manageable, 4 pieces), onion, celery, and some peppercorns. You may actually add other stuff here, such as parsley and a carrot perhaps.

Bring to a boil over high heat then simmer on medium heat over 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Remove the foamy stuff that rises to the surface while simmering.

Strain the stock and set aside. Have a taste. If it is bland, feel free to use chicken broth cube/s. Discard the celery, peppercorns and onion. Set aside the chicken meat. Once it's cooled, shred it up and discard the bones.

Soak the sotanghon noodles in cold water to soften (and lessen its impact on chicken stock absorption. That the noodles will also expand due to this, so it's better to see how much noodles you are dealing with by pre-soaking before committing to placing it into the stock).

Heat up a couple of tablespoons cooking oil. Saute garlic and onion, followed by the shredded chicken meat, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Add the patis and mix.

After about 3 minutes, add this to the chicken stock, as well as the carrots, cabbage, and the sotanghon noodles. Bring back to a boil and simmer for a couple more minutes to cook the cabbage and blend the flavours together.

Serve hot on a bowl garnished with green onions. Have some fish sauce, calamansi (lime or lemon will do) and ground pepper on the side for individual taste preference.

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