One of my favourite kinds of meals is one that comes together quickly, without much hassle, and that can be prepared while I’m also doing other things – which is great at the end of a long day when you want to eat but you also want to shower and relax.
I’d gone grocery shopping after drinks with a friend, so I put this dinner together while I was putting away the groceries too, which worked out really well. The weather in Budapest has been quite temperamental, so I’m alternating between soups and salads these days. This was the perfect solution to a rainy and cold day. The recipe is for two portions, so I plan on having it again for dinner tonight!
1.5 litres of water
2 chicken stock cubes
200g chicken breast
1 large pak choy
3 large sticks of cinnamon
2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
Bring a pan of cold water to the boil and add the peppercorns and cinnamon sticks. When it reaches boiling point, reduce it to a simmer so the flavours infuse.
In the meantime, slice the chicken into thin strips.
Cut the bottom inch off the pak choy, separate the leaves and wash thoroughly to remove any dirt. Chop into pieces.
By the way, don’t throw out the bottom of your pak choy! If you place the stem in a shallow bowl with water, you can propagate your pak choy very simply. Just keep it in direct sunlight, change the water daily – you can use it to water your plants, minimising waste – and in three days, you’ll see growth like this! When roots start showing, pay close attention, and also be sure to remove any outer leaves that start to fall apart in the water. When the roots are about 2 inches long, you can plant it in soil and grow it in a pot as normal!
Back to the soup!
Taste the broth after it’s been simmering for about 15 minutes, and adjust to taste. It should be fragrant and sweet. When you’re happy with the taste, use a slotted spoon to remove the whole spices and strain the broth so it’s clear.
Add the chicken and stir it around a little.
When the chicken’s been cooking for about eight minutes, add the pak choy until it wilts but there’s still a little crunch – around two minutes. I like it a little soft but still crunchy, but obviously cook it to your taste.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and the pak choy and add them to your serving bowl. You may want to keep this bowl covered with a plate to make sure it stays hot.
Crack an egg into a small cup or bowl, and using the back of your slotted spoon, create a whirlpool in the simmering stock.
Gently pour the egg into the middle, and stir a little to encourage the whites to form a nice ball around the yolk.
Poach the egg for around two minutes, then add the stock to the serving bowl, and gently place the egg on top.
You could of course poach the egg in the soup with the chicken and pak choy, but doing it this way ensures your egg doesn’t accidentally get scrambled in with anything else as it cooks.
You could also add noodles to the broth, but I preferred it with just an egg. Much lighter, and the flavour of the broth came out beautifully.
Garnish with fresh coriander or mint and enjoy!