For an even speedier meal, substitute 2 cups shredded chicken meat (or any other meat) instead of poaching the chicken.
Look for fish sauce, red chili sauce, and soba noodles in the Asian foods section at your grocery store, or order online. (Look here for the fish sauce, here for the chili sauce, and here for the soba noodles.)
- 8 cups chicken stock, or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast (about 12 ounces)
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons Thai sweet red chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 8 ounces soba (buckwheat) noodles
- 4 baby bok choy, cut into 1-inch slices, or halved lengthwise
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- A few sprigs Thai basil, mint or cilantro, for garnish
- Lime wedges, to serve
- Red pepper flakes, for garnish
1 Poach the chicken: Place a boneless skinless chicken breast in a saucepan and add enough stock to barely cover. Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat.
Once simmering, place the lid slightly ajar and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat, cover completely with the lid again, and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and shred into pieces with your fingers when cool enough to handle.
2 While the chicken cools, season the stock: Add the remaining chicken stock to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, chili sauce and brown sugar. Stir and taste for seasoning. Add more chili sauce if you wish to make a spicier broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.
3 Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until tender or according to package directions. Drain into a colander. (If the soup isn't quite ready yet, run the under cold water, drain, and toss with a little olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together while you finish the rest of the soup.)
4 Add the bok choy and scallions to the soup broth. Return to a simmer. Remove from the heat after 1 minute. (If you kept the bok choy in halves, cook for a few minutes longer, or until tender.)
5 Assemble the bowls of soup: Divide the noodles among 4 large soup bowls and top with the chicken. Ladle the broth and vegetables over top and garnish with the basil, mint or cilantro, if desired. Serve with lime wedges and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.