Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup starts with Chicken Feet

Nothing beats homemade Chicken Soup for flavour or personal satisfaction when the job is complete.  You use nearly the whole chicken including, yes, including the feet!  The feet add a depth of flavour not achievable through simmering the carcass alone.  If the thought of chicken feet in your soup is too abhorrent then purchase a dozen chicken nibbles or wings and substitute them instead.  Use a nice deep pot for this brew.  The chicken feet crackle and spit when they’re searing so I use a crayfish pot which accommodates the whole delicious stock concoction nicely.  Try this recipe and see if you notice a difference. The resulting broth is rich and lite with a sticky depth of flavour and a lovely clean finish.  Add loads of fresh Asian Greens and herbs and the perfect Chinese soup noodles and you have a rich yet lite, satisfying, life-giving meal.

Stunning Chicken SOup made from scratch
Stunning Chicken Soup made from scratch


For the stock:

12 x Chicken Feet

3 x Chicken Frames or Carcass

1 x Size 16 Free Range Chicken

Two stalks of Lemon Grass split down the middle and bashed about a bit.

2 inches of fresh Ginger just opened up but no need to remove the skin

6 Kaffir Lime Leaves

Half a bulb of fresh Garlic

Two clumps of Pak Choy Bulbs and white flesh only (reserve the leaves)

6 Coriander clumps stalks only (reserve the leaves for later)

One whole lemon – juice and rind sliced into chunks

One whole red chilli – split down the middle and seeds removed (This is optional but I like a bit of heat)

1/4 small cabbage

Generous end of a clump of celery

500mls good quality Chicken Stock

Oil and butter for searing chicken feet (not lots)

For the Finished Soup:

1 x packet good quality egg noodles (or your favourite noodles or fine Laganelle al Limone pasta noodles, which have a lovely Lemon infusion that works well with this soup.)

1 x 300ml can Coconut Cream

1 x 300ml can coconut milk or another cream if your body gives you permission.

Chicken-Feet  Chicken-Carcass-Cooking

Sear off the chicken feet in a little butter and oil until they are browning up.  Add the chicken frames and sear for 10 minutes.  Add the ginger, garlic, Kaffir leaves, Lemon Grass, Garlic and sear further.  Add Lemon juice and chicken stock then the rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the whole chicken.  Season with Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add the whole chicken and just enough water to cover it.  Put the lid on the pot and after ten minutes turn the heat down to simmer.  Simmer until the meat of the whole chicken is falling off the bones.  This will take around 40 minutes.

Remove the whole chicken to a platter to cool til you can extract the yummy meat.  Give the bones to your cat who will love you for them.  Reserve the meat, cover and refrigerate.

Drain the remaining stock and veges through a large sieve into another large pot.  Use a potato masher to extract every last bit of goodness from the vegetable slurry.

Allow the stock to cool and then refrigerate overnight.  The next day you can remove any excess fat that has settled on the surface of the stock if you wish.


To assemble the soup:

*Note – you may want to freeze a quantity of the stock at this point depending on whose Army you are feeding!

Reheat the stock on a brisk boil to reduce the quantity by half.   Now add loads of fresh chopped Coriander leaf, Pak Choy leaf, a little extra crushed Garlic, Ginger and finely diced red chilli.

Add the Coconut Cream and milk.  Depending on your stock quantity, you may not want two cans here.   Taste and season.  Your reaction should be “Wow!”  If it needs a little Zing, add the juice of half a Lime.

Add your noodles.  Simmer gently for ten minutes. Lastly add the shredded chicken meat.   It is important not to add the meat too early or it will go to mush.  Leave the meat quite naturally chunky, as it is if you gently extract it from the chicken carcass.  Simmer until the chicken meat is hot and the noodles are cooked.


To Serve:

Extract the noodles first and place in the centre of a wide soup bowl.  Add the meat component on top then ladle the exquisite soup broth.  Add a generous handful of chopped, fresh Coriander leaves to garnish.    If you are not such a Coriander fan then Parsley will suffice here.


Northern Thai Pork Sausage ‘Sai Oua’

Pandawan Cooking School is one of a number of cooking schools based in Chiang Mai. What makes Pandawan different is their luxurious cooking facilities upstairs, with views out towards the gardens. That’s not a must have, however, when you’re sweating about what you have to cook, you don’t also want to be physically sweating in a stuffy working kitchen in Chiang Mai’s old town!

The first stop on the tour was to the local markets. Just as you’d expect anywhere, there’s a plethora of what you recognise and a wide array of ingredients you’d rarely find in New Zealand. Our guide explained the difference between Holy Basil and Sweet Thai Basil. (Sweet Thai has a anise clove flavour) and then the difference between lime (used for it’s juices) and the wrinkly kaffir lime (used for it’s skin, similar to lemon rind).


Chiang Mai Market Butchery

The butcher is a different place altogether from what you’re used to at Gourmet Direct. Meat is presented in the open, in a slightly cooled room with every part of the animal there to be bartered for. Chicken doesn’t just come in breasts and thighs, there is no wasted parts of the chicken, after all, Thailand has 67 million people to feed!


The prize chickens are the fighting ones, well the fighting cocks that lost. They are well looked after, at least when they’re alive, so they taste the best, so we’re told. 

prize fighting chickens

Angry bird shaped precooked meat helps kids eat their soup as fast as any other trick.


Chiang Mai Market Butchery

On to the first tasting and it’s pork scratchings with a northern green chilli paste delicacy that is sweeter than most with a fire that fills the mouth not the throat. I decide to buy a little of both as they go great with a Beer Chang or Singha. Ideal for the cooler evenings, after these super hot and dry days in their 30’s.


Marinate then make the sausage

Last stop on the way out of the market, is also the first stop for most during the evenings so I’m told with queues ready to buy 3 – 4 kg at a time.  The Pork Sausage looks like the South Africa boerewors yet taste a world apart. Here it’s about spicing the sausage for marination before making the sausage not after. That way the marinate is integral to the sausage.


Inside the sausage goes turmeric, galanga, lemon grass and chilli paste, but despite some smiles and wrangling, I was unable to get the exact measure of each to make these beauties. Needless to say the chilli paste is more important than the pork in these 100% pork sausages. We decided to take up the challenge and make Northern Thai Pork Sausages, now available at the link below.

Gourmet Direct Northern Thai Pork Sausage

>> Link to pork sausage