The Japanese make a specialty of hearty soups full of thick, slippery udon noodles. Make them yourself or buy them in an Asian grocery. And be sure that the broth is dense with good things to eat.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
6 cups cold water
1½ pounds chicken necks, wings, and backs
6 slices fresh ginger
2 leeks, washed, including 2 inches of the green
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 egg whites, beaten
4 ounces udon noodles
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, including 2 inches of the green
4 ounces Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
Put the water in a very large pot with the chicken parts. Add the ginger, leeks, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, skim off the froth that rises to the top, and simmer 30 to 45 minutes partially covered.
Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth and pour the hot broth through it into a bowl. Discard the chicken bones, skin, meat, and vegetables, wash out your stockpot, and return the soup to the pot. Bring to a boil and swirl in the beaten egg whites. When the broth returns to the boil, remove from the heat, and strain it again through a colander lined with cheesecloth.
Cook the noodles in boiling water until they are done. Rinse well, and place them, with the radishes, scallions, and Chinese cabbage, in individual soup bowls. Ladle the hot broth over the vegetables and serve at once.