Begin 5-6 hours before you plan to make the soup. Start with making the basic stock, to make this add to a stockpot:
Leftover chicken, bones included. This can be thighs, legs, breasts, or a whole carcass Peel of the carrots you will put in the soup at the end, plus trimmed tips (discard stem ends) and 1 full carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces Tops of celery you will put in the soup at the end, plus 1 stalk 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped 2 bay leaves garlic powder cumin garam masala (I use the variety available at Cost Plus World Market) chicken bouillon granules, about 1-2 tbsp, depending on how much extra chicken flavor you want water to cover to about 2 inches above all ingredients
Place all into the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce temp to medium and simmer several hours, stirring every now and then. This can be prepared the night before, simmered while you eat your dinner and chill then cooled and refrigerated until you're ready to make the soup the next day.
Strain your stock through a fine-mesh strainer, pulling out any bits of meat that were still on the bone and adding them to the stockpot along with the strained liquid.
Now, on to the actual soup...
Cooked chicken breast, pulled into strips 2 fresh celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces zest of 3 limes 1 cup FRESH lime juice (you can use frozen cubes of lime juice, but only if it's what you juiced yourself, not the concentrated crap they sell at the store) 2-3 green onions, cut into 1/4 inch pieces, separate into two piles, the green hollow sprouts and the white stalks, the stalks will cook in the soup, the green hollow sprouts will be added at the end 4-5 carrots (again, peel these well ahead of time and use their peels and the tips you don't use in the end soup to help flavor the stock), chopped into 1/2 inch rounds 2 cans coconut milk 1/2 cup (loose) coarsely chopped cilantro leaves salt to taste (add this at any point of the cooking process, taste as you go to determine if it needs more)
To the stock you made earlier, add the stripped chicken breast, celery stalks, lime juice and zest and the white stalks of the green onion. Allow to come to a simmer and cook 4-5 minutes then add the coconut milk and carrots. Cook 10 minutes or until the carrots are just tender. Add the cilantro and green onion sprouts, cook another minute or two.
Serve over rice noodles or jasmine rice. Easily serves 6, with leftovers
*Edited to add:
You can also add other veggies and herbs to change it up: bamboo shoots, broccoli, bean sprouts, maybe lemongrass. If you try adding other things to it, please post and let me know so I can try it too! :-)
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