Winter Evenings

For a tropical country, it seems to me the Philippines has a lot of dishes that are well suited for colder climates. The stews and soups my mother cooked for us nurtured us through many a cold winter when I was growing up in New York. And these were the dishes I cooked most when I moved to the even colder Chicago for graduate school. There was nothing better than cooking up a large vat of soup in my teeny apartment while the wind howled outside and the snow blanketed the pavement. It could be 7 degrees out there and I couldn’t care less. As long as I was snug in my little kitchen, steaming up the windows with my cooking, I was happy.

I’ve mentioned before how my grad school friends and I would gather for Thursday dinners. We all looked forward to those Thursdays, and after some time, we figured out what dishes we loved most from each friend. Robin soon became known for her grandmother’s Tater Tot Casserole, Beth for her Stuffed Peppers, and eventually, those were the dishes we begged them to make time and again. Liz had many dishes in her arsenal that we loved, and I’ve already told you about her Blueberry Crisp and Rhubarb Cake.

As for me, my most requested dish was one that used Glass Noodles. Also known as Cellophane Noodles or Bean Threads, it is called Sotanghon in the Philippines, and is a beautiful, clear noodle made out of starch, most often mung bean. My Chicken & Asparagus Sotanghon (Glass Noodle) Soup was always comforting on the bitterest of Midwest winter evenings, and our bellies would warm instantly from the hint of ginger in the soup.

I thought of this dish the other day when I was hosting friends from my mom’s club at my home. Our group has a foodie gathering once a month, and it was my turn to host. My theme was Easy Winter Meals, and at first I thought I might go the casserole route. But then I remembered Robin, Beth and Liz and our cozy winter dinners. I remembered ladling the slippery noodles, chicken and broth over plates of steaming rice (because of course, as a Filipino-based dish, it must be eaten with rice), glanced at the frosted lawns out my window, and it was clear that I had to make it again.

Chicken & Asparagus Sotanghon (Glass Noodle) Soup

Serves 4-6.
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 1-inch slices ginger
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 whole chicken legs (about 2.5 lbs)
  • 2 tablespoons patis(fish sauce), to taste (salt may be substituted)
  • freshly ground pepper, about 1 teaspoon
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb asparagus, sliced on the bias in 1 inch pieces
  • 4 oz sotanghon noodles (also known as bean threads, cellophane noodles or glass noodles)
  • scallions, finely sliced

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until onion starts to become transparent, do not allow to brown. Add chicken to the pot, drizzle with patis. Using the patis to deglaze the pot, scrape any fond with a wooden spoon. Season the chicken with freshly ground black pepper. After 3-4 minutes, turn the chicken over and cover. After another 5 minutes, add chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Continue to simmer until chicken is very tender and falling off bones. Retrieve chicken, and allow to cool, until you are able to shred the meat*. Return shredded chicken to the soup, adjust seasoning as necessary with salt (or patis) and pepper. Add asparagus and noodles**, stir. Try not to overcook asparagus. Garnish with scallions and freshly ground black pepper before serving over rice.

*If time is of the essence, it is not necessary to shred the chicken. Go ahead an allow chicken to cook until tender, and serve in whole pieces.

**At first, it may seem as though the ratio of noodles to soup is wrong, but just be a little patient. The noodles will expand and soak up the brothy goodness.

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by Liren Baker on January 14, 2011

45 Responses to “Winter Evenings”

  1. Jill January 14, 2011 @ 2:27 am (#
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    Absolutely mouth-watering and gorgeous photos as usual!

    • Liren replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 7:47 am

      Thank you so much, Jill!

  2. Liz January 14, 2011 @ 4:50 am (#
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    I’m so excited! I’ve tried to make this many times over the years and it was never even close to yours! I can’t wait to do it right.

    • Liren replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 7:45 am

      It had been years since I last made this, Liz, but the moment I took my first taste, it reminded me of you guys! I miss you!

  3. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom January 14, 2011 @ 5:51 am (#
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    Great advice about patience with the noodles. Your soup looks so comforting and hearty. Sure to be at the top of your most requested recipes again.

    • Liren replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 7:47 am

      Thanks, Angela. I even doubted myself when I cooked this for the first time in years. I thought, surely that was a typo in ratio! But yes, the noodles will grow into the soup :)

  4. Tracey@TangledNoodle January 14, 2011 @ 7:19 am (#
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    Sotanghon soup is a definite favorite but something that I haven’t had in ages! I will definitely have to have a go at your recipe. And isn’t it so funny that even though there are already noodles in this, we still feel compelled to have it with rice? 8-D

    • Liren replied: — January 14th, 2011 @ 7:46 am

      Ha ha, I know! I always find myself chuckling when I serve this and “explain” how to eat it over rice. Just can’t get enough carbs, it’s the Filipino way :)

  5. Brian @ A Thought For Food January 14, 2011 @ 8:03 am (#
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    What a comforting soup to make on a cold winter night. I have dreaded going outside these past couple of days, but the thought of soup is all that I need to warm me up.

    Great post, Liren!

  6. skip to malou January 14, 2011 @ 10:02 am (#
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    I cook sotanghon soup a lot as it is so easy to prepare and so versatile… I make Filipino style soup, or Japanese by doing sukiyaki or something similar, I haven’t had it with Asparagus though but I would imagine it to be a refreshing take that my family will love when I make them tonight!

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 11:42 am

      Hi Malou, Oh yes, sukiyaki is another old favorite. Haven’t had that in ages!

  7. Hyosun Ro January 14, 2011 @ 10:09 am (#
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    Wow! That’s a nice looking soup with simple ingredients. Looks so comforting.

  8. Adora's Box January 14, 2011 @ 10:56 am (#
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    Yes, a lot of Philippine recipes are indeed suited for colder climates. i grew up in the Philippines and remember always having hot food for most meals (even breakfast). No one really thought of serving something cold since the weather was so hot. Your sotanghon soup looks so nice. I do love the slurpiness of glass noodles. The addition of asparagus is agreat idea. Meat flavoured broths are always nicer with some vegetables in it.

  9. Priscilla - She's Cookin' January 14, 2011 @ 2:22 pm (#
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    Sotanghon – I’ll have to remember that and ask my Filipino girlfriend if she makes this! I can see why your friends requested it the most on those cold Midwest nights (that I know all too well). Love the crispy, brightness that the fresh asparagus adds. Beautiful shots, Liren!

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 8:51 am

      Hi Priscilla! Thanks so much – yes, definitely ask your friend about sotanghon. I’m sure she’ll know :)

  10. Kate @ Diethood.com January 14, 2011 @ 6:15 pm (#
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    Thursday Dinner? Where I went to college it was called, Thirsty Thursday!! ;) And we all looked forward to it – maybe because I didn’t have any friends in college that knew how to cook an egg, let alone a soup that looks as amazing as that! I was the only one that cooked and Sundays were spent eating at my place :).

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 11:44 am

      Kate, your friends were the lucky ones, getting to spend each Sunday with your cooking :) And oh yes, I remember Thirsty Thursdays, too, at our school!

  11. Annie January 14, 2011 @ 7:28 pm (#
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    Chicken and asparagus always go well together – what a wonderful twist to the traditional Sotanghon soup! Looking forward to following your blog, Liren!

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 11:43 am

      Hi Annie, thank you for stopping by! Looking forward to following yours, too!

  12. Prerna@IndianSimmer January 14, 2011 @ 9:16 pm (#
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    Looks so warm and really comforting! You are a lovely photographer Liren. Love the top shot of asparagus.

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 11:43 am

      Thank you so much, Prerna, that shot it my favorite, too!

  13. Becky January 15, 2011 @ 11:05 am (#
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    Can you please take pictures of my food? These are incredible. This looks absolutely tasty! I’m inspired.

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 11:43 am

      Aw, Becky, I am beyond flattered! LOL, I would love to spend all day just taking pictures of food – mine, yours, everywhere!

  14. Jackie January 15, 2011 @ 11:27 am (#
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    Glass noodles are literally one of my favourite things ever – how could I not love this?! Bookmarked!

    Jax x

  15. norma January 15, 2011 @ 11:54 am (#
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    My daughter-in-law’s father was Philippino and her mother German and my granddaughter who is 10 is now starting to ask about foods and cooking. For Christmas she wanted baking equipment and now she is asking that I get her recipes from the Philippines and Germany. I will be visiting her soon in Florida and will make this dish with her.

    Thanks Liren…

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 8:04 am

      Norma, how interesting – your daughter in law and my own daughter share the same background! My husband’s family is of German descent. I hope you enjoy your visit with them, and most especially your granddaughter – I hope she enjoys making and eating the glass noodles!

  16. Monet January 15, 2011 @ 9:44 pm (#
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    This glass noodle soup looks so warm and comforting. I can see why your friends loved this specialty of yours. One of the best parts of sharing meals with people is that you get to taste a bit of their culture, of their family, of their childhoods. Thank you so much for sharing. May your Sunday burst forth with joy and love.

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 8:05 am

      Absolutely, Monet! I agree that the best part of sharing favorite foods with friends is that you get a taste of their homes and their childhood. Somehow you can taste the love in the dish :)

  17. Chef Dennis January 16, 2011 @ 4:18 am (#
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    what a perfect soup to warm the body and the soul! I love those noodles, what a wonderful combination of flavors, I’m always looking for other ways to use asparagus!
    Congrats on your top 9 post today!!

  18. Becky January 16, 2011 @ 5:16 am (#
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    I love soup, and goodness knows the weather in Chicago is very conducive to soup. I’ve never cooked glass noodles, but I’ll be making your gorgeous soup soon, when I can find asparagus.

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 8:06 am

      Hi Becky! The weather all over has really been conducive to soup, hasn’t it? The asparagus is starting to look good in the markets here, hope you find some soon so you can try the dish!

  19. Kate @ Diethood.com January 16, 2011 @ 6:28 am (#
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    Congrats on Top 9! Well deserved…the soup looks amazing.

  20. Mdivani January 16, 2011 @ 10:30 am (#
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    K’s favorite vegetable is Asparagus! Will have to give this one a shot, sounds seriously yummy.

    XOXO
    MM

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 8:02 am

      Hi Mdivani – is asparagus really K’s favorite veggie? Then this is a great dish for you both (substitute tofu for you!).

  21. Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris January 16, 2011 @ 10:40 am (#
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    I bought those noodles at a little store near home, and I must admit, my first intuitive attempt was not a success exactly !!! Now I will follow this delicious recipe (yes, one has to follow experts!)
    Congrats on Top 9

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 8:01 am

      Hi Cristina! Well now, I would hardly call myself an expert (apart from expert eater!), but I do hope you try this recipe a try! Do let me know how it turns out :)

  22. sippitysup January 16, 2011 @ 2:43 pm (#
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    You see this is not only beautiful but great info about the glass noodles too. Thanks GREG

  23. Jenny @ meltingbutter January 17, 2011 @ 2:14 am (#
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    is it asparagus season already? yay! I love asparagus! this looks really yum btw :)

  24. RavieNomNoms January 17, 2011 @ 7:17 am (#
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    That looks sooo sooo yummy!

  25. Cindy January 18, 2011 @ 10:18 am (#
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    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a few months now, but this is my first time trying to cook up one of your tempting dishes. I’ve had glass noodles in my pantry for a while and was wondering when and how I would be able to use them. After reading your post I knew I had to try this recipe and boy was I glad I did. The asaparagus added the perfect balance and the flavors were perfection. My favorite were the noodles. I served the soup over rice, but personally would have preferred less rice than I served myself as I thought it competed with the noodles and soaked up a lot of the yummy broth. The perfect topping to this soup was nothing other than a good dollop of sriracha. The family enjoyed it as well. I’m sure I will be serving this up again soon. Thanks for posting!

    • Liren replied: — January 19th, 2011 @ 8:00 am

      Hi Cindy! I can’t tell you how much your comment means to me; thank you so much for taking a moment to write! I’m so glad that you’ve been enjoying my blog and that you tried the glass noodle dish. I do agree that the noodles are my favorite part of the dish. Love the idea of adding sriracha sauce – that must have added an extra dimension to the dish altogether, I will definitely try that the next time I make it!

  26. Magic of Spice January 19, 2011 @ 4:28 pm (#
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    Sotanghon, I am not familiar but I will have to ask Grely. This is a gorgeous soup :)

  27. Jun Belen January 20, 2011 @ 8:19 am (#
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    As you and your daughter were craving for champorado, I was craving for sotanghon and then I stumbled upon your beautiful post! I’ve never made it with asparagus but I don’t see why not. A beautiful bowl of comfort! Thank you for sharing, Liren. Now I have some inspiration!

  28. Debi(Table Talk) January 21, 2011 @ 6:27 pm (#
    28
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    Love this warm, steamy soup with stalks of asparagus poking through as thought spring is just around the corner (please oh please!)
    Beautiful photos, Liren

  29. Joy February 18, 2011 @ 7:48 am (#
    29
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    Sotanghon soup is always a go to in my house. This looks great.

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