chicken noodle soup with lemongrass

Serves 4
21/2 Tbs. canola oil
2 small boneless, skinless
chicken breast halves
(about 3/4 lb. total), butterflied
(cut horizontally
almost all the way through
and then opened like a book)
K kosher salt and freshly
ground black pepper
3 medium shallots (about
4 oz.), peeled and thinly
sliced into rings
2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed,
outer layers discarded,
halved lengthwise, and
smashed with the side of a
chef’s knife
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
51/2 cups homemade or lower-salt
chicken broth
31/2 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms,
stemmed and quartered
(11/2 cups)
9 oz. fresh udon noodles
1 T hai bird chile (or 1 small
serrano chile), sliced into
thin rings
8 large fresh basil leaves, torn;
plus sprigs for garnish
1 medium lime, 1/2 juiced and
1/2 cut into wedges
1 Tbs. soy sauce; more to taste
2 medium scallions, trimmed
and sliced, for garnish
(optional)
1 medium carrot, cut into
matchsticks, for garnish
(optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves,
for garnish (optional)

In this cross between Vietnamese pho and Japanese udon noodle
soup, fresh udon noodles are the star. Fat and bouncy in texture, they
cook faster and tend to be more delicate than dried.
1. Heat 1 1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high
heat until shimmering hot. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp. each
salt and pepper and cook without disturbing until it’s browned and
releases easily from the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes. Flip and
cook until the second side is browned and almost firm to the touch
( just short of cooked through), another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the
chicken to a cutting board to cool.
2. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the shallot to the pot. Sprinkle with
1/4 tsp. salt, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring until the
shallot starts to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass, ginger,
and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the ginger and lemongrass
sizzle and become fragrant about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth,
scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and raise
the heat to medium-high. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce it to
a simmer. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until
tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

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