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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kitchen Bootcamp Challenge January 2011: Soup (Pho & Wonton)

When I saw that January's Kitchen Bootcamp challenge was soup, I decided to join in. We love soup in our household, and learning to make good homemade soup seemed like an excellent goal. I knew I wanted to focus on chicken broth based soups. During no-chicken-vember, I wasn't even willing to give up chicken broth soups, I love it too much. For something I love so much though, I'd never made my own broth.

I decided to start out with one of Jen's recipes from her blog, mykitchendaddiction. I chose her chicken tortilla soup (revisited) because it is a recipe in which she used the whole chicken for the first time, and I wanted a whole chicken soup recipe for beginners. I started with making the broth. I'd never even bought a whole uncooked chicken before. I crammed my chicken in my dutch oven, threw in the rest of the broth ingredients, and was so happy to realize just how easy it was!

Before I knew it, my broth was done, and I was letting the chicken cool before shredding the meat. The part that really surprised me was how much the whole thing fell apart while simmering. I expected to be able to pull the whole bird back out in one piece. But the meat was fall off the bone tender, and so when some of the meat fell off the phone, the chicken lost its shape. The broth turned out really excellent. I froze 1/4, used 1/4 in my chicken b'stilla recipe, and used 1/2 to make the chicken tortilla soup (halving that part of the recipe, since I halved the chicken and broth I was using in the soup).

While I was happy with how my broth turned out from Jen's recipe, I wasn't ready to stop there. Her broth was great for using in something, like a tortilla soup, where you're going to add a lot of spices.

I'm sure I'll make it many times in the future so that I can have homemade broth in my freezer and fridge. What I really wanted to accomplish was a broth that stood on its own, with just a few add-ins for the soup. I order a chicken broth like this in Wonton soup (Chinese restaurants) or Pho (Vietnamese Restaurants).

For this, I turned to Hyacinth's recipe from Pioneer Woman. I knew from her description that this could be the stand alone broth I was seeking. Her recipe uses all chicken thighs, instead of a whole chicken. My little dutch oven had a hard time fitting it all in.

But I found it just as simple to make as the previous recipe. I don't know why I'd been so scared of making my own chicken broth! The results from Hyacinth's recipe were delicious, just what I was wanting! You wouldn't want to make this flavorful broth for when a recipe calls for broth, but for some special soups.

My recommendations are super quick versions of Pho or Wonton Soup. If you make the broth ahead, you could put these meals together really quickly on a busy night. These are my two recipes below.

For the Pho. (this took me 20 minutes, but if you boil the rice noodles ahead of time, it would take even less time)
2 handfuls raw bean sprouts (from produce section of grocer)
1 lime cut into 8 sections
fresh cilantro
rice noodles
reserved chicken (optional)

Cook rice noodles as directed on box. Place cooked rice noodles in soup bowl, then fill with broth. Top with bean sprouts and 2 sprigs fresh cilantro. Squeeze 1 lime wedge into soup. Enjoy!

For the Wonton Soup:
3-4 frozen wontons* per person

Heat broth to near boiling temperature. Divide into soup bowls. Place 3-4 wontons in each bowl. Allow soup to cool slightly before eating.

*I enjoy the frozen wontons from Trader Joe's, but if you prefer to make your own check out the book Can I Freeze It?: How to Use the Most Versatile Appliance in Your Kitchen

Thanks Kitchen Bootcamp Challenge for challenging me to step out of my shell. I really enjoyed making my own broth. Check out My Kitchen Addiction for more on Kitchen Bootcamp.


  1. Thanks for submitting this recipe to my Kitchen Bootcamp! It looks great :)