Rainbow Pepper Chicken Noodle Soup


A deeply comforting and restorative soup: chicken and noodles simmered in lemon grass- and chilli-infused stock, seasoned with a rainbow mix of crushed white, pink and green peppercorns. Normally I’m not in favour of mixing pink peppercorns with proper pepper, but it seems to work here.


  • red chilli 1 small, deseeded and finely chopped
  • lemon grass inner leaves from 2 stalks, finely chopped
  • kaffir lime leaves 4, finely shredded
  • fresh galangal or ginger root 2 tsp, finely chopped
  • chicken stock 1.5 litres/ pints, preferably home-made
  • white, pink and green peppercorns ½ tsp each, crushed
  • boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts 450 g/1 lb in total, cut into 1cm/½in cubes
  • medium rice noodles 200 g/7 oz
  • limes juice from 2
  • fish sauce 1–3 tsp
  • coriander stems discarded, leaves sliced to make 5 tbsp
  • mint leaves sliced to make 4 tbsp


Put the chilli, lemon grass, lime leaves and galangal in a bowl and pour over enough hot water to just cover. Leave to steep for 15 minutes, then mash to a coarse paste.

Heat the stock in a large saucepan with the mashed spice paste and the peppercorns. Add the chicken, bring to the boil, then simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain, cut them into slightly shorter lengths with scissors, and add to the soup.

Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, coriander and mint. Simmer for a few minutes to heat through.