Spicy Chicken Soup

(Photo by stu_spivack/Flickr)
(Photo by stu_spivack/Flickr)

This is a Malaysian version of a one-pot meal, substantial and spicy.

Serves 4.


1.5 kg/3 lb roasting chicken
or chicken drumsticks and thighs
2 litres/4 pints/8 cups cold water
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
few celery tops
1 large brown onion, sliced
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 salam leaves or 6 curry leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (blacan)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 candle nuts, finely grated
250 g/8 oz rice vermicelli
3 large potatoes, cooked and halved
lemon juice to taste

8 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
crisply fried shallots


Cut chicken into joints and put into a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover the chicken. Add salt, peppercorns, celery tops and half the onion. Bring quickly to the boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is tender. Cool to lukewarm, leaving chicken immersed in the liquid. Strain stock into a bowl, remove skin and bones from chicken and with a sharp knife cut flesh into dice or strips. Set aside.

Heat peanut oil in the saucepan and fry salam or curry leaves and the rest of the onion until onion is golden brown. Add garlic, ginger, shrimp paste and stir over medium heat, crushing the shrimp paste with back of spoon. Add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and candle nuts and fry, stirring, for a few seconds longer. Add stock and bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook rice vermicelli in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain and cut into short lengths. Add it to the simmering soup, return to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken meat, potatoes and lemon juice and heat through. Pour into a large soup tureen or individual soup plates and garnish with spring onions, egg and fried shallots.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)