All the cozy comfort of chicken soup. With Asian-inspired twists: fragrant lemongrass, bright cilantro, and tender rice noodles. Change up your soup game with Lemongrass Chicken Soup!
There’s something about homemade chicken soup. A piping hot bowl reminds you of home and the people you love most in the world.
My kids love chicken soup. I think they also love the cozy feeling that only chicken soup can bring. Case in point: whenever my kids feel sniffly, under the weather, or not their usual perky selves, they ask for homemade chicken soup. And it’s my pleasure to make it for them.
While I love Western-style soups, they can feel rather dense and heavy at times. That’s where this Asian-inspired soup comes in: light, fresh, clean-tasting. With a clear stock, bright herbs, and tangle of rice noodles that don’t make you feel weighted down.
Lemongrass Chicken Soup is the kind of soup that’s on heavy rotation in my home. (My Instant Pot Ginger Chicken Soup is another variation, if you’re looking for ideas.)
Ingredients for Lemongrass Chicken Soup:
Chicken Leg Quarters
The quality of the ingredients determines the quality of the final product. That’s why most chicken soups call for organic whole chicken.
But if you’re in a rush or are looking for an economical alternative, try my no-so-secret method to achieving great flavour in chicken soup: skin-on, bone-in Chicken Leg Quarters.
What is this cut of meat, you ask?
Chickens Leg Quarters are chicken legs and thighs that remain connected to each other. In my part of the world (Toronto, Canada), they are called “Chicken Legs with the Backs Attached.” But I’ve also seen them labeled “Whole Chicken Legs.”
I discovered this economical cut of chicken when I was scraping along as a poor grad student. Back then, chicken was an indulgent luxury. Chicken Leg Quarters kept my food costs low, being the cheapest of all the chicken options.
I’ve eaten enough of these to know that the price point comes with good reason: there’s very little meat and a whole lot of skin and bone to gnaw through.
But I have to say, they are perfect for chicken soup. All that extra skin, bone, cartilage, and tendon provide so much flavor! Not to mention body, depth, and richness.
Chicken Leg Quarters are now my preferred choice when making soup. They are economical, cook faster, and provide better flavor than a whole chicken. Try it once and I think you’ll agree!
Everyone agrees that there’s an Italian way to cook pasta. In the same vein, there’s also an Asian way to cook Asian noodles.
To prepare rice noodles, DO NOT cook them directly into the soup.
Asians rarely cook noodles directly in the soup pot. To do so would release all the starchiness of the noodles. There is nothing worse than gummy noodles and soup that’s become glue-y and unappealing thick.
Instead, soak rice noodles in hot water (I use boiling water from my tea kettle). Drain and rinse the noodles in cold water. This method prevents overcooking and ensures the noodles retain their own identity when combined with the other elements.
Aim for perfectly cooked noodles and a clear, uncluttered stock. Throw in a handful of fresh herbs and a drizzle of cilantro. And just like that, dinner is ready!
Lemongrass is a tough, fibrous stalk found at Asian Supermarkets. I’ve also seen Lemongrass sold in the fresh herb aisle at regular grocery stores from time to time.
There are two parts to lemongrass: the tender, yellow stalk and the dry, tough green tips. Asian Supermarkets sell both parts together, packaged in styrafoam and plastic wrap. But at regular grocery stores, only the tender, yellow stalks are sold in pre-packaged plastic herb packets.
This recipe calls for the tender, yellow stalk. If, however, you also have the green tips, feel free to throw them in for good measure. (I just can’t seem to throw them out, being the frugal cook that I am.)
To prepare the lemongrass, first release the aromatic oil. Pound with a rolling pin until cracked and splitting apart. Alternately, grip a knife handle with your fist and pound down with the butt of the handle. Either way, the goal is to crush the stalk and release its fragrance. Enjoy!
All the cozy comfort of chicken soup. With Asian-inspired twists: lemongrass, cilantro, rice noodles. Change up your soup game with Lemongrass Chicken Soup!
- 2 lbs Chicken Leg Quarters, bone-in, skin-on about 3-4 leg quarters
- 3-4 stalks lemongrass
- 1 large onion peeled and cut in half (keep root intact for easier removal)
- 2 tsps salt
- 8 cups cold water
- 1/2 8 oz/ 462 g package Rice noodles dried
- Cilantro chopped
- Sriracha optional
Butcher Chicken Leg Quarters into two pieces: legs and thighs. Place the chicken pieces into the stock pot.
Prep Lemongrass by releasing its aromatic oils: place 1 stalk on a cutting board. pound with a mallet or rolling pin until cracked and splitting apart. Alternately, grip a knife handle with your fist and pound down with the butt of the handle. The bruised lemongrass should be fragrant. Place in stock pot, on top of chicken. Add onion, salt, and water.
Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until chicken is tender and the broth looks oily and golden yellow in color, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place dried rice noodles in a large bowl. Add boiling water (I use my tea kettle) until noodles are covered with liquid. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. It's okay if there are a few pieces of noodle that are still hard.
When the soup has finished cooking, remove onion remnants and lemongrass stalks with a slotted spoon. Remove chicken to a plate. Shred meat with two forks, making sure to remove all skin and bones.
Add shredded chicken back into the pot. Add soaked, drained rice noodles and give the pot a good stir. Simmer on medium heat until noodles are tender, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if necessary.
Serve immediately, preferably with a generous sprinkling of cilantro and sriracha.
*1. The easiest way to butcher the leg quarters is turn over the leg quarter to the underside. The goal is to find and cut through the small gap between the leg bone and the thigh bone. The tricky part is that the leg bone is visible to the eye while the thigh bone is usually buried under the raw chicken. I find the gap where the two bones meet by locating the tip of the leg bone first and trusting that the thigh bone is nearby. Place the tip of the knife right next to the visible chicken bone, then press down on the back end of the knife to separate the leg from the thigh. If the meat does not easily separate, feel for the thigh bone and adjust the position of the knife. If, however, this proves too difficult, just toss in the chicken leg quarters whole.
*2. You will only need the yellow, tender stalks of lemongrass. If you also have the dry, green tips, feel free to bruise and throw them in the pot for good measure. The soup will turn slightly green with the green tips.