14th Annual Family Reunion
By EC Insider, Pan Thao
Despite the weather, it’s always a good time to bundle up and enjoy a steamy bowl of soup. Lucky for us, Eau Claire is home to several great soup spots that will warm your bones and nourish your soul. Be careful not to burn your tongue because these three (and a half) soups are sure to get you spoon-happy!
SPOILER ALERT: The “half” soup is a delicious Laotian Rice Noodle Soup you can make right at home…a little extra work for a lot of taste bud satisfaction!
When I was a kid, eating pho was a BIG deal because my family only made it once a year (twice, if we were lucky). Then in college, a friend introduced me to some of the pho restaurants in town, and oh boy, was I in heaven! I love eating pho from anywhere, but Noodle Teahouse has the kind that reminds me of home. The meat is tender, veggies are fresh (love the bean sprouts!), and the broth is just perfect. Pho from Noodle Teahouse is seriously home sweet home!
Acoustic Cafe is a downtown favorite that offers a veggie soup that delivers a powerful burst of summer! If you love large slices of carrots mixed with other veggies like corn and green beans, this is perfect for you. It’s sweet, juicy, and slightly tart. So many layers of delicious flavor! I love to crumble some saltine crackers into mine before diving in, but you certainly don’t have to since it’s hearty enough. Every bite will remind you of summer days for sure!
Ready for something unique that will definitely impress those taste buds? Then check out Johnny’s most popular soup, the lobster bisque. It’s creamy, tangy, and comes with chunks of flavorful lobster. It truly has a hint of the ocean, and I promise you’ll finish every last drop!
Here is one of my favorite soups that I make with my mom every winter. It’s called Khao Piak (Laotian Rice Noodle Soup) and is similar to chicken noodle soup.
● 1 whole chicken (raw or rotisserie)
● 12 cups of water or enough to cover
● 1 stalk lemongrass
● Fish sauce to taste
● 1 package (16 ounces) rice flour*
● 1 1/2 packages (21 ounces) tapioca flour*
● 2-3 cups of boiling hot water, enough to form dough
● Sliced green onions
● Chopped cilantro
● Bean sprouts
● Fried garlic
● Soy sauce
● Ground white pepper
● Lime wedges
● Chili oil
NOTE: My mom rarely measures anything so this is my best estimate. Good luck!
*You can pick some up at some of the grocery stores in town or any of the Hmong stores.
1. If using a raw chicken, cut the chicken into quarters and place in large stock pot. Add 12 cups of water or enough to cover chicken. Add rest of broth ingredients and simmer for several hours until chicken is cooked. (This is a good time to make the noodles.) Remove chicken and allow it to cool before shredding. Add shredded chicken back into pot, and keep broth on low simmer.
2. If you use a rotisserie chicken, you do not have to boil the chicken for several hours since it is already cooked. Shred the chicken and add to water with rest of broth ingredients. Bring to a boil and let simmer while you make the noodles.
3. In a large bowl, mix the rice flour and tapioca flour together (set aside about a cup). Slowly add boiling water to the mixture and stir so it forms a lumpy dough. Dough will be very hot! Carefully form dough into a ball.
4. Dust a flat surface with the flour that was set aside, and knead the dough for several minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour. Divide the dough into smaller balls. Use a rolling pin to roll them out to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 1/4 inch strips of noodles. Place noodles in a bowl and dust with flour to keep from sticking. Continue rolling and cutting the strips, adding to the bowl.
5. Bring the chicken broth to a boil.
6. Add a small handful of noodles to the boiling broth. Stir as you continue adding the noodles a handful at a time to prevent them from sticking together. Boil for a few more minutes.
7. Ladle Khao Piak into bowls. Garnish to your liking!