Roasted duck soup combines succulent roast duck with an incredibly flavorful broth. I cook the roasted duck remnants with beef bones and let them simmer for hours until the broth is sweet and delicious. I then complete the soup-style. By that, I mean, egg noodles are quickly boiled, then covered with the broth. The soup is finished with pieces of roasted duck, steamed bok choy and bean sprouts for extra crunch.
To me, the key to making great soup is to focus on the broth. It takes a lot of patience to get the flavour of the broth just right, but I think it’s so worth it.
1 whole crispy roasted duck, store-bought, warmed in the oven and cut into small pieces
1 (16-ounce) package thin egg noodles (see tips)
1 yellow onion
1 (2-inch) chunk fresh ginger, peeled and crushed
1 dozen beef bones (the more, the sweeter the broth)
2 dried daikon radishes, quartered
2 carrots, trimmed and peeled
1 daikon, trimmed and peeled
4 teaspoons mushroom seasoning salt (or regular salt)
1 chunk rock sugar (about 1 ounce), or (2 teaspoons granulated sugar)
1/3 cup salt
1 teaspoon MSG (optional)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup bean sprouts
3 tablespoons cilantro
3 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
6 sprigs Thai basil leaves
4 cups bok choy, quartered and steamed
Sriracha sauce, to taste
For the broth:
The day before…
In a pot, soak the beef bones in about a quart of water with 1 tablespoon of salt overnight. The next day, rinse the bones, place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the water. Rinse the bones under running water and set aside. This step is important to get clear broth before starting the long, slow cooking.
Fill a 12-quart stockpot with 6-1/4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil.
Add the beef bones, the neck and head of the roasted duck (I also added other bone pieces with very little meat as well), ginger, dried daikon, fresh daikon, carrots and the whole yellow onion. Bring the liquid back to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to a bubbly simmer. Cook for 1-½ hours, up to 2 hours. Regularly skim the impurities rising to the surface of the broth using a fine mesh strainer. Once the broth is cleared of any impurities, add salt, mushroom powder, rock sugar and MSG if you choose to (see tips). Bring to a roaring boil for about 30 minutes and cook until the broth is reduced by 1/3.
Check the seasoning. Season with more salt (if necessary) and pepper. Adjust the sweetness of the broth. The amount of sugar varies with the number of beef bones. Finish with a drizzle of sesame oil.
Remove the beef bones, cover with cold water and set aside for about 15 minutes. (Note: The method used to ensure that the meat does not darken as the broth cools down is basically the same procedure as that used to keep vegetables a bright green colour). Drain the water from the beef bones, then refrigerate them until it’s time to serve.
Let the soup come back to a boil for the last time, then remove the pot from the stove. The broth is ready!
If you’re health conscious, you can remove the fat from the broth: Let the broth cool down to room temperature, plastic wrap the pot tightly and place the whole pot in the refrigerator. The fat from the broth may pick up some other odours from the refrigerator if the container is not sealed properly. A layer of fat will form at the surface; it can be removed using a large spoon. You can skip this step by using a fine mesh strainer and regularly degreasing as the broth cooks.
For the egg noodles:
On a large platter, untangle and separate the egg noodles. Form individual servings.
When you’re ready to serve, fill a medium-sized pan with about 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil. Then place deep size bouillon strainer (or a large strainer that can fit in the pan) and add an individual serving of the egg noodles. Wait for the water to come back to a boil (about 1-2 minutes) then cook for about 30-45 more seconds. Lift the strainer, drain the liquid and transfer the noodles to a serving bowl. Repeat for each individual bowl.
Be organized. Line up the serving bowls. Place a little chopped green onion, bean sprouts and herbs in each bowl. Add the boiled egg noodles. Add a few pieces of roasted duck and bok choy along with the boiling broth you have prepared.
Serve immediately with Sriracha sauce on the side.
I purposely do not salt and sweeten the broth at the beginning but wait to add salt and sugar until the bones are fully cooked.
You can find rock sugar in Asian stores. You could also use granulated sugar instead.
Mushroom seasoning salt brings a very distinct, earthy flavour to the broth. You can find it at gourmet speciality stores or in most Korean stores. I buy it at Marina Foods -10122 Bandley Drive -Cupertino, CA 95014.
The key to egg noodle soup is a good, clear, fragrant broth. If at the end of the meal, you see empty bowls and no broth left, it means that you successfully made an excellent soup. Cooking very slowly and gently keeps the broth relatively clear. It’s very important to get rid of the foam that rises to the surface of the broth as it cooks. Never bring the broth to a full boil, always keep it a gentle simmer. Also, to ensure a clear broth, if it’s too salty, only add boiling water (if needed), NO cold water. I usually have a kettle of boiling water on the side.
Making this soup is time-consuming! I always make a huge batch and invite all the carnivores I know. This is one case where your patience will definitely be rewarded.