Chicken rice soup

chicken, onion, ginger and more

Cooking Thai food in American kitchens, 192pp.
by Malulee (kunjara) Pinsuvana
Self-published (I think), Thailand, 1981 (third edition)
Cooking on page 32

We lived in Burma (Myanmar) for several years in the mid 1980s, and I bought this cookbook on one of our many trips to Thailand. Ever since then, it has languished on a bookshelf, being totally neglected.

The author, Malulee Pinsuvana, has lived in the USA, and she and her husband have managed a busy household. I’ve had my eye on the page-32 recipe for a while because it was one of her husband’s go-to meals on an especially busy day.

Her published version is a bit more complicated than her husband’s, but not by much. He used tinned chicken, quick rice and water. Oh, and all the recipes are written in both English and Thai.

Thai chicken soup with egg

Chicken rice soup

1 cup rice
3 cups water
½ cup ground pork or sliced chicken meat
1 tablespoon chopped ginger root
2 tablespoons nampla (fish sauce)
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped green onion and coriander (cilantro)
2 eggs
bones of chicken
2 cup water

Clean the rice well. Add 3 cups of water in medium-sized pot. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour (low heat) until the rice is soft. Remove from heat. Pour into a double strainer. Press with spoon until the rice becomes small pieces. Set aside.

Boil the chicken bones with 2 cups of water. Cook them for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bones. Add rice to chicken broth. Cook for 2 minutes; add ground pork or sliced chicken little by little. Add nampla.

Break the eggs into the serving bowl. Put the rice soup on top of the eggs. Sprinkle with ginger, green onions and chopped coriander. Makes 3–4 servings.

How it played out
Years ago, a Japanese chef taught my dear friend, Maggie, how to cook rice, so I almost always follow those instructions. Here they are:

cooked rice eggs in bowl cooked rice eggs and cookbook

To cook rice (any amount)
Pour rice into a saucepan and rinse well at least three times. Cover rice by enough water to reach the main joint on your thumb. Add salt if desired. Put over a high heat. Cook until the water subsides way below the rice, and craters form (this took about 13 minutes for 1 cup of rice). Put on a lid, remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Perfect rice every time.

And then the rest of the recipe
I followed the rest of the recipe, using sliced fresh chicken. My change was to use 2 cups of packaged chicken stock. In the intro to the recipe, the author said this substitution was totally okay if you are in a hurry (it’s what her husband used to do). By the way, ½ cup of chicken slices weighed about 120–125 grams.

I got Poor John to chop the ginger with the mezzaluna, and I chopped the green onion and coriander (cilantro). An aside, I have many years’ worth of old USA cookery magazines. All through the 1980s, they still referred to cilantro as fresh coriander. I’m thumbing through those magazines and will let you know when the language changes to cilantro.

When I went to finish off this soup, I felt lucky to have a couple of eggs from friends who keep chickens in their backyard. Yolks don’t get much yellower than that.

Poured the soup over the cracked eggs, and let it all sit long enough to make sure the eggs were no longer raw.

This soup was completely surprising. I tasted the broth before adding the nampla (fish sauce) and thought oh boring. Then I added the fish sauce, egg, ginger, chopped onion and fresh coriander, and thought Oh wow.

Thai cookbook

We spooned the hot rice broth over the egg to make sure it was cooked.

The bottom line is, What a transformation! This is a fantastic and ever-so-simple soup. Packed with flavour and ready in minutes. Go on, try it.

Travel and dogs
We’re dog lovers and one of my enduring memories of a recent visit to Thailand was meeting the Groucho Marx of dogs.


About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
This entry was posted in Light meal, lunch, Stew/soup and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Chicken rice soup

  1. Your method of cooking rice is exactly how I boil my rice. It was taught by a good Dutch-Indonesian friend of mine many decades ago when I was still a young man. I have never looked back since and boiling perfect rice has been the main reason for that.
    Surprisingly, that art seems to have got lost. Many years ago ( everything is now ‘many years’ ago) our Japanese students, sadly, had lost this art and used an automatic electric rice steamer. Can you believe this, Leggy? I put them straight though and taught them again how to boil rice. Amazing though, I thought the Japanese invented rice boiling.

  2. Fiona says:

    Will have to give that a try. Sounds delish. I’ve spoken about rice-cooking before – must give your way a go. Quite similar, and learnt from a Chinese friend.

    Isn’t “cilantro” the Spanish/Mexican word for coriander? In South Africa we use “coriander” and “dhanya” with the latter, I think, the Hindi influence. I love it – makes a big difference to a dish

    • leggypeggy says:

      I love coriander in all its forms—fresh, seeds and ground. Cilantro is the Mexican/Spanish word. But in the 1980s, US cookery magazines were still calling the fresh version coriander.

  3. Sy S. says:

    Nice, very nice Chicken Rice Soup Thai Style. I used my very expensive Japanese Rice Cooker (few rice cookers can make Rice Porridge) to make Congee/Jook/Porridge. Using about 3/4 cup rice, adding four chicken skinless thighs, cut up ginger and water filled to the level within the cooking pot (about 1+ cup). After finishing, I de-boned the chicken and added a little more hot water, to make the Congee/Jook less thick.

    Then in an individual bowl added the Porridge and chicken pieces, then a small amount of fish sauce, pepper, cut up scallions, (cilantro dry? did not have fresh cilantro), grated ginger and one semi-cook egg (pre-cooked in a microwave for 30 seconds, plastic wrap over a cup so no splattering). Using a small amount of fish sauce was to my liking… and I also could have added a little soy sauce and sesame oil as well.

    • leggypeggy says:

      Oh Sy, that sounds divine, and so great that you can do so much of this in a rice cooker. Clever to pre-cook the egg a bit. We stirred our eggs through the hot broth, but I think pre-cooking makes sense.

      • Phyllis Gaetz says:

        Will try this. I often make a fast egg drop soup in a beef broth by beating the egg first and just dropping it into the broth by the teaspoon. I use to poach eggs in the microwave making sure to take a toothpick and giving the yolk 3 little pokes so it wouldn’t explode!

      • leggypeggy says:

        Sounds great Phyllis (and just so you know, I could fix the typo). 🙂

  4. Kiki says:

    Looks so good! Cant go wrong with fish sauce 🙂

  5. payel says:

    I cook rice a lot, I never knew about this technique .Really good to know this idea.

  6. Deb says:

    I did not know what clean the rice well meant, but after reading your method, does it just mean to rinse it three times, as you do, before cooking it? I love chicken rice soup so I look forward to trying this! 🙂

  7. I will use your recipe to make chicken rice soup this week. Thanks!

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