Sotanghon is one of my favorite soups. It’s a Filipino chicken soup that’s perfect anytime I need some brothy comfort food. It’s my husband’s favorite version of chicken soup.
It’s so good, it’s been in my regular soup rotation for several years, thanks to my girl Celestina, who is an amazing cook. When I get an invite for dinner from her, I dare not decline because she continually introduces me to new dishes from her homeland of the Philippines.
The first time I ate sotanghon I was in heaven. . . It was a cold, Sunday afternoon and this soup was right on. I remember it distinctively. It was one of those food moments that is permanently etched in my flavor memory – the first time I had this hot, gingery broth that is both citrusy from lime and salty from patis (fish sauce).
To me it’s the broth that makes this soup stand out and the reason why my version is more soupy than most traditional satanghon recipes you’ll find. Many years ago Celestina showed me how to make a quick version using chicken breasts. I’ve adapted it over the years using chicken thighs to make the broth. I also prefer this version because it has more vegetables than most.
A lot of recipes call for removing the ginger in the final stages. I prefer to leave it in, because the flavor gets more intense as the soup sits. Also, as you know from my ginger posts, ginger aides digestion and is a warming spice. Don’t eat it if it’s not your thing.
I usually buy these ingredients at the Asian market. FYI, sotanghon noodles are cellophane noodles made from mung beans; they are also called chinese vermicelli noodles. I like to get the package with bundles wrapped and tied (see photo below).
This recipe makes a huge pot, half it if it’s too much.
Tidbits on Chicken Soup:
- Chicken soup has been a remedy for colds, flu and other infirmities since prehistoric times. The hot broth is coveted because it is thin, protein-based, and easier to digest than a full-on solid meal.
- Chicken soup was also considered curative because of it’s light broth, which was similar to the human complexion.
- Originally and in some places today, old chickens were used to make chicken soup – because it was a good way to use the tough meat and also a way to stretch out a meal.
Filipino Chicken Soup – Sotangho
4 oz. mung bean cellophane noodles
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, medium dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 chicken thighs,* skinless
2 to 3 tablespoons patis (fish sauce), divided**
12 cups water or chicken stock***
1 1/2 cup dried shitaki mushrooms, sliced****
4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and diced into very thin coins
Juice from 3 fresh limes
3 large carrots, peeled and julienned
5 heads baby bok choi, sliced at the width
Cilantro, garnish (optional)
Green onions, sliced, garnish (optional)
*Substitute with 2 large chicken breasts/3 regular
**Use less fish sauce (1 tablespoon to start) if using stock/broth/bouillon because they tend to be salty.
***If using chicken breasts, use chicken stock or broth.
****You can buy sliced dried mushrooms at most Asian markets. If you find whole dried, you will need to presoak and then slice them.
- Soak the mung bean noodles in hot water. Set aside.
- In a large pot over medium heat, saute onions in oil for about 1 to 2 minutes, until they become slightly translucent; add minced garlic, stirring frequently to avoid burning garlic. Add the chicken thighs, brown both sides slightly. Add 2 tablespoons fish sauce, water/stock, dried mushrooms, ginger and lime juice. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken pieces with tongs and shred chicken with two forks. Return chicken (and bones for more flavor) back to the pot.
- Use scissors to cut the cellophane noodles into 2 inch strands – it’s easiest if you leave the noodles in the soaking pan and cut at them from above. Drain. Add the noodles and carrots to the pot. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes until carrots are al dente. Adjust seasoning – more fish sauce or a little salt or more lime juice. Add sliced bok choi.
- Serve hot garnished with sliced green onion, fresh cilantro and a slice of lime.
Spice: annatto (atsuete) powder – gives it an orange hue
Vegetables: Chinese okra, spinach, kale, porcini mushrooms