Chicken Soup with Toasted Garlic, Mushrooms, and Celery

I have been reaching for Dining In a lot lately. The meals are some of the best I’ve made at home. The flavor combinations are exciting and extremely satisfying, and that especially goes for this delicious soup, which is one of my favorite soup recipes of all time. It is satisfying on so many levels. I have literally been sick for 3 1/2 weeks, and this soup (which I’ve made each week) always helps me feel better. Even if you don’t have the nastiest, most stubborn cold of the season, this soup is worth making for the taste alone. It is amazing the first day and gets a little more amazing with each day the leftovers sit in the fridge. Best.Leftovers.Ever.

from: Dining In (you need this book)
serves: 4 (but you might not want to share.)

2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil or vegetable oil
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 large shallots, thinly sliced into rings
1 pound (or a little more) mushrooms, such as maitake, oyster, shiitake, or cremini, quartered
8 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal, plus 1/2 cup celery leaves
2 to 3 cups cooked chicken meat (pulled meat from a rotisserie chicken is what I like to use)
1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce, plus more as needed (optional)
1 lime, quartered
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, tender stems and leaves
spicy chile oil*, yuzu kosho, or other hot sauce of your choice

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly fried and turning golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Season with salt and set aside.

Add the shallots to the same pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are lightly fried and turning golden brown but are not yet crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until they’re beginning to brown and are totally softened, about 4 minutes. Add the broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the flavors get to know each other and the broth tastes a little shalloty and a little mushroomy, seasoning with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Once the broth is as good as can be, add the sliced celery and chicken. Cook until the celery is just tender and the chicken is warmed through, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with the fish sauce, if using, and lots of fresh lime juice. Stir in the celery leaves, cilantro, and a generous spoonful of chili oil before topping with the toasted garlic and serving.

Spicy Chili Oil

I love this stuff. I drizzle it on everything from this soup, to noodles, to white pizza, to vegetables. I don’t care for the numbing quality of Sichuan peppercorns, so I omit those. If you choose to use them, they add a nice crunch to this oil.

3/4 cup peanut oil* (grapeseed or vegetable oil will also work)
1/4 cup crushed red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper
1/4 cup black or white sesame seeds or 2 tablespoons of each
2 to 3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, chopped (optional)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
kosher salt

Heat the peanut oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, Sichuan peppercorns (if using), and garlic, in a small pot over the lowest heat possible. Let it come to a simmer (all the bits in the pot will start to sizzle) and cook until the red pepper flakes are a dark brick red and the sesame seeds are golden brown and toasted (if using black sesame seeds you will start to smell them toasting), 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and add several generous pinches of salt. Let cool completely before chilling.

Chili oil can be made 1 month ahead and stored in a glass jar in the fridge.

*If you’re using a neutral oil with a high smoke point, such as grapeseed, vegetable, or canola, you can add a splash of toasted sesame oil for more flavor.

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