This is a wonderful soup/stew to serve to someone who is feeling a bit under the weather. It might sound exotic, but pak choy is now grown very successfully by Irish farmers. Look for it in the supermarket and make sure you check the label to see where it was grown.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 l (2½ pints) chicken stock
  • 2.5cm (1in) piece root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (fresh, dried or frozen)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 red chillies, seeds removed if preferred (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 450g (1lb) minced chicken
  • 4 spring onions, very finely sliced
  • 4 tblsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 2 tblsp chopped fresh coriander
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lime
  • 1 tblsp rapeseed oil
  • 150g (5oz) vermicelli rice noodles
  • 150g (5oz) pak choy, roughly chopped
  • To Serve:
  • 75g (3oz) fresh beansprouts
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Handful of picked fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Method

This is a wonderful soup/stew to serve to someone who is feeling a bit under the weather. It might sound exotic, but pak choy is now grown very successfully by Irish farmers. Look for it in the supermarket and make sure you check the label to see where it was grown.

  1. Pour the chicken stock into a large, heavy-based pan. Add the ginger, garlic, star anise, kaffir lime leaves and the cinnamon stick.
  2. Roughly chop 1 of the chillies and add to the stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to gently bubble away for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, seed and finely chop the remaining chilli and put into a food processor with the minced chicken, spring onions, 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce, the coriander and the lime rind.
  4. Blend until mixed together. I use the pulse button so the mixture keeps some texture.
  5. Roll into 20 bite-sized balls.
  6. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the rapeseed oil and then the chicken balls. Fry for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown and just cooked through. Keep them moving all the time to ensure they colour evenly.
  7. Pour boiling water over the noodles and leave to stand for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
  8. Strain the stock to remove the herbs and spices, then return to the pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce and the pak choy. Bring to a gentle simmer, allowing the pak choy to just wilt.
  9. Just before serving, add the chicken balls to the simmering stock. Warm deep serving bowls and divide the noodles between them.
  10. Pour over the soup and chicken balls, ensuring you divide them evenly between the bowls.
  11. Finally, garnish with beansprouts, spring onions, chilli, if using, coriander leaves and lime wedges to serve.