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~ Thai Glass Noodle Soup w/Petite Pork Meatballs ~

PICT2589This is indeed an authentic Thai recipe, but one you'll not find on a Thai restaurant menu. Versions of this "gaeng jued" soup are sold as street food and in soup kitchens all over Thailand.  It is simple, clear soup, brimming with noodles, ground or shredded pork (although chicken is sometimes substituted), mushrooms and green vegetables.  Customers select their choice of noodle, (either bean thread or rice noodles, thick or thin ones) and the soft noodles are always added to each bowl just before serving (otherwise too much stock gets absorbed by the noodles and the soup gets too thick).  This is a flavorful soup, not a spicy one, but you have the option to make that happen.  In Thai, the words "gaeng jued" literally mean "plain soup"...

Glass Noodles?  Petite Meatballs?  A Plain Soup?!?

Since the Thai people eat soup at any time of the day, this dish was, and still is, an everyday, economical, hearty soup that the Thai home cook (who always has Thai soup stock on hand) can put on the table quite quickly.  That being said, in every culture, some recipes, usually out of economic necessity, are destined to evolve into something quite special.  An example that comes to mind is Italian Wedding Soup:  A soup of "plain"/humble origin containing broth, meat, pasta and vegetables, which was called "married soup" (minestra maritata) for no other reason than:  greens and vegetables were married to meat and pasta via a flavorful broth. How does a family cook, on a limited budget, transition a delicious but "plain Jane" recipe (using on-hand "everyday" ingredients) into an elegant and extraordinary experience for a special occasion or that special someone?  A little bit of extra labor, a lot of love and a very creative mind!

PICT2521A bit about glass noodles:  Also known known as cellophane noodles, crystal noodles, bean threads, bean thread noodles, mung bean noodles or Chinese vermicelli, the best ones are made from bean starch and water (as opposed to potato, yam or cassava starch).  Glass noodles, just like other types of noodles, come cut in different widths ranging from thin strands to wide sheets.  They are called "glass" or "cellophane" noodles because when cooked they retain a very magical, clear, almost translucent appearance. They shouldn't be confused with rice noodles, which are made from rice and are white, not clear, after cooking!  (That being said, if all you have on hand are rice noodles, they can be substituted.)

PICT2120Before preparing this soup, I highly recommend you take the time to prepare my recipe for ~ Thai Chicken Stock (Real Thai Food Starts Here) ~, which you can find in Categories 13, 15 & 22.  Too many Americanized Thai soup recipes call for "chicken stock", which is just plain wrong, when you consider that classic chicken stock is prepared with an entirely different flavor palate in mind!

Mel's Thai Glass Noodle Soup w/Petite Meatballs

This is Joe's favorite Thai soup, and, I am going to surprise him with it tonight for Valentines Day!  

PICT0145My Thai soup stock (mentioned above), is a very important element to this luscious soup and it has been made in advance, in a quantity (5 quarts) that allows me to freeze in desired-sized containers, to keep on hand all the time. Today, I've thawed and heated:

6 cups Thai chicken stock

Making the meatballs is quite easy, but, it is the time consuming part of preparing this special soup. Because of this, I have formulated my recipe to yield enough of meatballs for three soup meals. Once prepared, I divide them into three equal parts and freeze two parts for two more meals!

PICT2528For the meatballs:

2  pounds pork tenderloin,  trimmed of all visible fat, cut into 3/4"-1" cubes

4  ounces green onion, white and light green part only, coarsely chopped into 1"-1 1/2" lengths

1  cup panko breadcrumbs

2   8-ounce cans sliced water chestnuts, well-drained

3  jumbo eggs

1 1/2  teaspoons ground ginger

2  tablespoons Golden Mountain seasoning soy sauce (a Thai ingredient found at your Asian market)

2  teaspoons salt

1 1/2  teaspoons white pepper 

PICT2532~ Step 1.  Prep the pork tenderloin as directed above and place it in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade as you work. Using a series of 15-20 rapid on-0ff pulses, grind the meat.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.





~ Step 2.  Return the work bowl and steel blade to the food processor. Add all of the remaining ingredients, as listed.  Using a series of 30-40 rapid on-off pulses, combine the mixture to a thick paste.  Transfer mixture to the bowl containing the ground the pork.

PICT2539Using your hands, thoroughly combine.

PICT2543~ Step 3.  Using a 1" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place meatballs, slightly apart on each of 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans that have been lined with parchment paper.  Bake, one pan at a time, on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven, 15-16 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely (on the pans).

PICT2550You will have a total of 7 1/2 dozen flavorful, succulent, mini-meatballs.  Divide into three batches of 2 1/2 dozen each.  Remove 2 1/2 dozen meatballs from one pan and reserve them for preparing the soup.  Cool and freeze the remaining meatballs (on the pans) prior to dividing them in half and transferring them to two food storage bags for use at a later date!

PICT2554For the soup:

1 1/2  quarts Thai chicken stock

2 1/2  dozen petite pork meatballs

3/4  cup very thinly sliced green onion, white and light green part only

1 1/2  cups matchstick carrots

1 1/2  cups thinly-sliced white button mushroom caps

2  cups of 1/4" chiffonade of fresh, dark green bok choy leaves

4  ounces glass noodles, thin or wide, your choice, soaked in hot water for about 35-45 minutes prior to preparing soup

1-2  tablespoons Golden Mountain seasoning soy sauce, more or less, to taste

PICT2557~ Step 1.  Place the glass noodles in a large mixing bowl and cover them with very hot tap water.  Set aside for 35-45 minutes while preparing the soup.

PICT2564About 15 minutes into the soaking process, dive in with a pair of kitchen shears and cut the noodles to manageable lengths. 

Note:  Joe likes the wide noodles, so, that is what I am serving tonight.  I'm soaking 1/2 of the big red bag pictured earlier on in this post.

PICT2574~ Step 2.  In a 6-quart stockpot, bring the Thai chicken stock to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, carrots and mushrooms.  Adjust heat to simmer gently, until carrots are softening, about 10 minutes.



~ Step 3.  Drain all water from noodles.  Add the meatballs, bok choy chiffonade and softened noodles.  Simmer gently for 1-2 more minutes, no longer. Taste the broth and add additional seasoning soy sauce, only if necessary, to taste.  Ladle into 4-6 warmed soup bowls and serve this "oodles of noodles soup" immediately w/spoons and forks:  

PICT2613Thai Glass Noodle Soup w/Petite Pork Meatballs:  Recipe yields 3 quarts of soup/4-6 servings and a total of 7 1/2 dozen small, "mini" meatballs (enough for 3 meals).

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; food processor; 1" ice-cream scoop; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 6-quart stockpot; soup ladle

Cook's Note:  The meatballs are equally delicious made with ground boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  To save you some wasted time and energy, I've made them using boneless, skinless breasts and I was less than impressed!    

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


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I actually had the chance to try that recently. It is DELICIOUS!! Glass noodle soup is my new favorite!

Happy Valentine's Day Sweetie!!!

This is another crazy-good soup. Every man should have a wife who has a foodie blog. Never a dull culinary moment.

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