I don’t live in Paris. I live in East Vancouver. There’s one aspect of my neighbourhood, though, that’s always made me feel a tiny bit Parisian – the produce markets that run up and down Commercial Drive. While my suburban friends and family are taking their cars to the local supermarket to stock up on groceries, I’m walking along the Drive and thinking about what looks fresh for dinner that evening. And if I sound a tiny bit superior, it’s just the part of me that wishes she did live in Paris getting a little of her own back.
I do appreciate my neighbourhood shops for more than just their ability to enhance my fantasy life. Really. I am blessed to have easily available to me fresh, often organic, ingredients from a variety of world cuisines. If I’ve forgotten something, I can usually just run down the street to get it. Best of all, my food bills are often a third of the price I’d pay at major supermarket chains. On the weekends, I can also head over to the local farmers’ market and spend a little more for farm-to-table goodness.
I reminded myself of all this while shopping for the ingredients for this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe. I was frustrated because I wasn’t able to find hoisin sauce, but only because I was looking for one that was gluten-free. It exists, but clearly not in my neck of the woods. I have nothing to complain about.
In the end, I didn’t miss the hoisin sauce at all, because this chicken noodle soup was very flavourful. I didn’t stray far from Dorie’s recipe, only substituting the rice sticks that I already had on hand for the rice vermicelli that was called for. Provided you have all the ingredients at home, or are able to pick them up on your way home from work, this is a great weeknight dinner recipe. Once you’ve got the chopping out of the way, the only thing that takes time is poaching the chicken. It’s so easy to finish, especially using rice sticks, which only need a few minutes under boiling water to cook.
Speaking of the chicken, I poached a little more than was called for in the recipe and set some aside for chicken salad. The meat absorbed the flavours of the soup and I think it will be perfect with a simple dressing on mixed greens. Since there’s only two of us in our household, I divided the soup and chicken, finishing each batch the day we ate it. The soup was good on the first day and better the second, as the flavours had melded beautifully overnight. When I make it for company, I’ll definitely start it the day before.
We used mint and bean sprouts for garnish this time, but there are so many possibilities for this soup. I’d like to add mushrooms, along with the suggested lemon grass and Thai basil. I’m also looking forward to trying the curry version or adding some smoky ham when it’s almost finished cooking. Yum.
You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup