Singapore Light Meal – Chicken Macaroni Soup

001 - Chicken Macaroni Soup edited re-sized

An evergreen One Dish Meal (OMD) for brunch, lunch and even the evening meal. Rich strong chicken broth soothes and comforts anyone especially when you are under the weather. My children looked forward to this dish as part of lunch after the rush of activities during the morning at kindergarten or primary school.

What makes this soup different from the All American Chicken Noodle Soup? Is it the pasta versus broad egg noodles? The clincher – local garnishes like Fried garlic bits or Shallots, fresh cilantro leaves and Fried Bread Cubes. Each of these build layers of flavours for an adult palate. Most young children’s tender taste buds will find garnishes like fried garlic bits and fresh cilantro too strong. However, Fried bread cubes are sinfully delicious and appeal to all palates. These little bits of crunch and oil adds the Singapore punch! Click here for how to make Fried Bread cubes.

Time saving hints

  • Fried shallots or Garlic bits. You can purchase ready-made Fried Shallots or Garlic Bits at the local wet market or supermarket. Click here for how to make Fried Shallots (and follow the same method for Garlic Bits and Garlic Oil). For just a small portion of Fried Garlic bits and oil, chop 4 to 5 cloves of garlic and stir fry them in 2 to 3 Tbsp of oil in a pan over medium heat, turn off the heat when garlic is light gold in colour and remove from heat source to prevent burning.
  • If you don’t have a whole chicken, substitute 2 to 3 chicken thighs or 1 to 2 chicken breasts or a combination of both. Just skin these chicken parts before boiling. If you don’t have as many pieces of chicken parts but sitting in your freezer is at least 1 cup of home-made chicken stock, then add that stock in for a flavourful soup. Go ahead and use what is already in your fridge or freezer.
  • Cooked Pasta. You can cook the elbow shaped pasta ahead, drain, cool it and refrigerate it for later use. Make sure that was cooked el dente and taken out of fridge to reach room temperature before using it for this dish. If you must heat the pasta in the chicken broth before serving, take care not to overheat cooked pasta and end up with mushy pasta!

Some Comments about the Ingredients

Prep Stages of Aromatics. Notice the difference in the sizes of the chopped vegetables.

Garnishes. Such garnishes are common place for local dishes. They are used for noodles, meat or fish dishes and rice dishes, on appetizers and mains alike.

COOKING this Dish

STEP 1. Heat a 4 to 6 quart stock pot or any thick bottomed deep pot with some oil over medium high heat. Add in the onions. Once chopped onions soften, add both celery and carrots. Stir fry till all vegetables are lightly caramelised.

Meanwhile, to save time, fill an electric kettle to its maximum capacity and boil. It will come to boil around the time your vegetables have caramelised in the stock pot.

STEP 2. Pour the kettle of water into the stock pot. When the water begins to boil, lower the chicken carefully into the stock pot. The recipe calls for skinned chicken but photo shows the chicken with skin on (you will see why later). Since I had managed to get a large free range chicken (1.8 kg) and I was cooking for only 4 persons, I only used half of it.

STEP 3. Bring all ingredients in the stock pot to boil. Cover stock pot and cook on medium low heat for 10 to 25 minutes, depending on whether you are using chicken pieces or a whole chicken (photo below). Meanwhile, prepare a basin of tap water which will be used for immersing the cooked chicken. Place it beside the stove but far away enough so that the heat from the stove does not scorch the plastic basin.

 STEP 4. Switch off heat and leave contents in stock pot for 7 to 20 mins, depending on whether you are using chicken pieces or a whole chicken. This step ensures that the chicken is cooked through.

STEP 5. Lift cooked chicken and immerse chicken fully in the basin of tap water bath. Don’t skip this step as it prevents the chicken from over-cooking. Keeps chicken succulent.

Notice the film of oil floating in the stockpot in the photo above? Hence, it is preferable to skin the chicken or chicken parts first.

STEP 6. Cook the pasta according to directions on its packet. If you are short on time, you can also cook the pasta whilst chicken in cooking in the stock pot. Drain pasta.

STEP 7. Assemble each bowl individually. Fill a Western soup bowl or a Chinese noodle bowl with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cooked macaroni. Top with chicken chunks/shreds.Pour hot broth with the cooked vegetables. Garnish as desired.

RECIPE

Serves: 6 to 8 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken – about 1.3 to 1.5 kg
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • ¾ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced or chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into medium sized slices
  • 10 Cups water

Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon light soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 cups of elbow shaped macaroni
  • 1 tsp salt

Garnishes

  • Fried bread cubes
  • Chopped spring onions
  • Chopped fresh Cilantro
  • Fried Shallots or Garlic Bits
  • Dash of ground pepper
  • Sliced red chillies (optional)

Method:

  1. Clean and wash. Remove as much chicken skin as possible as this will reduce fat in broth later on. Separate the neck, feet and back bone from the rest of the chicken which should remain as 2 halves. The neck, feet and back bone will be left in the pot of water to boil for a longer time to make a full and richer broth.
  2. Heat a 4 to 6 quart stock pot over medium high heat. Add oil and stir fry the onion till it is soft. Add in the other 2 vegetables and continue to stir fry for 5 to 7 min. Meanwhile, bring a full kettle of water to boil.
  3. Add hot water into stock pot. Add the chicken or chicken pieces. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and cook chicken for about 10 to 25 mins ( depending on size of pieces or chicken).
  4. Turn off heat. Leave all ingredients in stock pot for 7 to 20 min ( depending on whether you are suing chicken pieces or whole chicken). Lift out the 2 halves of the chicken and immerse in a bowl of tap water to stop chicken from cooking further.Leave the rest of the chicken pieces in the pot to boil for another 10 to 20 min to create a richer broth. Keep this broth simmering while you prepare the rest.
  5. Once chicken halves are cool enough to handle, lift them from the bowl of water. De-bone and shred or cut meat into small chunks. Adjust broth for the level of saltiness you prefer.
  6. To cook the pasta, bring a pot of water to boil in a 2 quart pot and add salt. Cook according to directions on the packet.
  7. To assemble, fill a Western soup bowl or a Chinese noodle bowl with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cooked macaroni. Top with chicken chunks/shreds.Pour hot broth with the cooked vegetables. Garnish as desired.

Serving Suggestions

Yes. This is a One Dish Meal. However, is is hard to resist a dessert. A plate of cold, freshly cut seasonal fruits is always appropriate. Consider any one of these which can be prepared a day ahead.

1. Almond Jelly + Longans Click here.

2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.

3. Sweet Potato Dessert Soup. Click here.

4. Orange Agar Agar Wedges. Click here.

5. Sago Pudding. Click here.

6. Caramel Custard. Click here.

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