Chicken Noodle Soup with Ginger, Shiitakes & Leeks



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Servings: 4 to 6
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Ingredients
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    3/4  ounce 
    dried shiitake mushrooms (about 12)
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    5   
    bone-in chicken thighs (1-1/2 to 2 pounds), skinned, fat trimmed
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    Kosher salt to taste
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    2   teaspoons 
    peanut or vegetable oil
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    1   
    large or 2 small leeks (white and light green parts only), sliced into thin half moons and washed
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    3   tablespoons 
    minced fresh ginger
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    4   cups 
    homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
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    3   cups 
    water
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    1/4  cup 
    mirin or rice wine
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    2   tablespoons 
    soy sauce
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    1   tablespoon 
    rice vinegar
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    1   teaspoon 
    Asian chile paste
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    9   ounces 
    fresh Chinese egg noodles
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    1   teaspoon 
    toasted sesame oil
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    Freshly ground black pepper to taste
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    2   
    scallions, thinly sliced on the bias (about 1/3-cup)

Directions
1.
Put the shiitakes in a bowl and cover with about 1-1/2-cups boiling water. Set a small plate or pot lid over the mushrooms to ensure they're submerged, and soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Discard the mushroom stems and thinly slice the caps. Set a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a damp paper towel over a measuring cup and strain the soaking liquid through it. Reserve the liquid and shiitakes separately.
2.
Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels; season with salt. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, cover the pot, and cook for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice. The aim is to sweat (not brown) the chicken until it loses its raw pink color on the outside and begins to exude some of its juices. Stir in the leeks, ginger, and sliced shiitakes; cover and cook until the leeks begin to soften, about another 5 minutes.
3.
Add the broth, water, reserved mushroom soaking liquid, mirin, soy sauce, vinegar, and chile paste, and bring to a vigorous simmer over high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook uncovered until the chicken is very tender and falling off the bone, about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken and set it aside.
4.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.
5.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and roughly chop or tear it into bite-size pieces. Return the meat to the soup. Add the sesame oil and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
6.
Stir the noodles into the soup and let them heat through. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with the sliced scallions, and serve immediately.
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