Classic Beanthread Noodle Soup with Chicken


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


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Here we have a classic Chinese soup that Thailand has made its own. The Chinese provenance is unmistakable; my Cantonese ancestry stirs within me whenever I enjoy this dish in Thailand, but I recognize and appreciate the Thai influence. This soup is a savoury and satisfying treat.


  • 110 g (4 oz) dried beanthread noodles
  • 15 g (½ oz) Chinese dried black mushrooms
  • 175 g (6 oz) Chinese bok choy or Chinese leaves (Peking cabbage)
  • 110 g (4 oz) boneless chicken breasts, skinned
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) homemade chicken stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped shallots
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil


  • 1 tablespoon groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions


Soak the noodles in a large bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. When soft, drain and cut into 7.5 cm (3 in) lengths using scissors or a knife. Set aside.

Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess liquid. Remove and discard the stems and cut the caps into thin strips. Cut the Chinese greens into 7.5 cm (3 in) pieces, wash and drain well.

In a food processor, mix the chicken with the light soy and fish sauce and finely chop. It should be a thick paste. Divide the mixture into 8 equal parts and roll each part into a ball.

In a large pot, heat the stock. Add the sugar, salt, pepper and chicken balls. Simmer for 2 minutes. Then add the shallots, noodles, mushrooms and Chinese greens and continue to simmer gently for another 5 minutes. Add the sesame oil and stir. Pour into a soup tureen.

Prepare the garnish. Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is slightly smoking, add the garlic and stir-fry until brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Garnish the soup with the browned garlic and spring onions and serve at once.