- Cut carrots, peppers and celery into julienne thin strips about 2 inch long (5 cm) and ¼ inch wide (0.5 cm). Measure out baby spinach and set aside.
- Cut leftover roast chicken into bite size pieces and set aside. You can also poach chicken breast or thighs in the broth at this step if you do not have leftover chicken.
- Heat chicken broth in a pot, add dry rice noodles and turn off heat. Leave 10 minutes until softened. Remove noodles from broth so they do not over-cook. Reserve broth.
- Make soup paste by combining garlic, ginger, hot chili pepper, cherry tomatoes, shallots, cilantro, ground cumin, ground turmeric, Szechwan pepper (timur), asafoetida powder and lime juice in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Heat oil in soup pot. Add soup paste and fry for 30 seconds or so. Pour in chicken broth and mix well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Add prepared vegetables and chicken and simmer five minutes or until carrots are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
- To serve, divide rice noodles between bowls. Pour soup over and garnish with fresh cilantro.
The recipe calls for Szechwan pepper (also known as Nepali pepper or timur) and it can be found in Oriental stores. If you do not have it, increase the amount of freshly ground black pepper to suit your taste. Szechwan pepper (pimpinella anisum) is native to the Szechwan province of China. Although it looks similar to black pepper it is actually the dried berry of a tree in the prickly ash family.
Asafoetida (ah-sah-FEH-teh-dah) is a pungent resinous gum used widely in Indian vegetarian cooking. The powder resin is usually mixed with flour to provide bulk and is sold in bright yellow plastic tubs. If you do not have it, add a bit more lime juice to the soup to suit your taste. Omit for a gluten free version.