Chemo Cravings

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This is one of my favorite Asian-style soups. I used to crave it when I was on chemo. I found its taste comforting, but far from dull. I like to add the spicy kick of jalapeño at the end, but if spice isn’t your thing, it doesn’t need it. Rice noodles are one of the fastest ways to add carbs to a meal. They require no cooking, just a quick soak in boiling hot water until they are ‘al dente’. It’s so easy! 

Chicken & Noodles in Coconut Lime Broth


2 teaspoons canola oil

½ onion, sliced thin

1 clove garlic, sliced thin

3-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into slices

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups coconut milk

2 teaspoons lime zest

2 teaspoons fish sauce

½-pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)

6-ounces flat rice noodles

10-ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced into thin strips

½ cup loosely packed baby spinach or roughly chopped spinach

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

2 stalks scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced

½ jalapeño, sliced (optional)


1. Heat oil in a medium stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook onions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes just until the onions turn translucent, about 4 minutes.

2. Add the chicken broth, milk, lime zest, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add the sliced mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste.

3. Meanwhile, soak and drain the rice noodles according to package instructions.

4. Bring the soup back up to a boil, and add the sliced chicken. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook for 2 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat and stir in the lime juice, cilantro leaves, and scallions.

6. Divide the rice noodles between 4 bowls. Pour the hot broth over the noodles. Serve with jalapeño slices, if using.

Ann’s Tips:  If you can’t find Thai fish sauce, which adds a delicious briny taste to the soup, just add some salt. The lime will take care of the rest.
If you’re on a neutropenic diet, don’t turn off the heat when you add  the cilantro and scallions, or the jalapeno if using. Cook them in the broth for about 3 minutes before serving.


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