Some kind of Chow Mein Soup that was mostly Improvisation

I know it’s been a while since I posted. A long while. Product of going back to work full time. I recently quit due mainly to health reasons to pursue something that wouldn’t kill me. Something involving more writing, hopefully. Wish me luck.

20181126_192941Now, on to the recipe. Okay, I can’t really call it a recipe because I have no idea what the actual recipe called for. While shopping for new sheets for the kids, I picked up some angel hair pasta nests, which reminded my Japanese-cuisine-loving daughter that we had some chow mein stir fry noodles in the pantry…somewhere (we’re remodeling our kitchen right now so it’s anyone’s guess where anything is at this point).

She says, “We should use those tonight!”

I say, “Sure.”

We get home and she miraculously finds the noodles and asks, What exactly do we do with them?”

I say, “I don’t know. Look up a recipe and tell me what you need.”

The rest of the conversation goes about like this:

Abbey: Do we have mushrooms?

Me: We did, but I forgot about them and they went bad and I had to throw them out.

Abbey: Do we have Ginger?

Me: Maybe? (We actually didn’t. Or it couldn’t be found, at least)

Abbey: Do we have green onions?

Me: We have dried chives.

Abbey: Do we have cabbage?

Me: We have lettuce…

Abbey: We have chicken, right?

Me: I think so…

Abbey: Do we have (some sort of Asian spice I can’t remember the name of)?

Me: It’s possible…

Abbey: I think we have some celery in the fridge (Turns out it was actually broccoli, so…no, we didn’t have any celery)

Abbey: Do we have soy sauce or sesame oil?

Me: Yes! For sure we actually have both of those.

Abbey: Do we have wine?

Me: Uh, of course we do (Though, I’m now confused why she asked because we didn’t actually use it…)

There may have been a few other things in there, but to cut to the chase, we were missing about half the ingredients she needed for the recipe, so we improvised, as any good amateur chef in a halfway remodeled kitchen would do…

Improvised Recipe

2 cartons chicken broth
2-3 T soy sauce
1/2 c. shredded carrots
1 T dried chives
1 package chow mein stir fry noodles
3 c. cooked rice
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp. meat tenderizer salt
1 tsp. per bowl of toasted sesame oil
1 T olive oil


Before anything else, I showed Abbey how to turn on the electric grill on the deck and start cooking the frozen chicken breasts. She’s 12 and had never used it before, but eventually we got the chicken on and cooking without incident.

Then, Abbey measured out the olive oil and tossed it in the pan with the dried chives. Had I been paying attention and not putting together the wine cabinet that finally got here today, I would have told her that was unnecessary since we were using dried chives instead of fresh green onions, but oh well.

Next, she found the veggie peeler and was prepared to started “shredding” her carrots. I jumped in here to make sure the carrots were rinsed and that the outer peels were peeled into the trash before she started peeling/shredding the rest of the onion into the pan. I did mention she also could have used the grater, but she preferred the peeler. It worked.

Dicing the fully cooked chicken was a bit nerve-wracking as my 12-year-old gingerly used a sharp knife, but she did a great job. All the chicken made it into the pan, minus any fingers. A+++ for Abbey.

After asking what it meant when the recipe said she was supposed to stir-fry the veggies, her dad showed her how to turn on the new gas cooktop to high heat and stir-fry she did.

Next, she added the 1 carton of chicken broth the recipe called for, but we both decided that wasn’t going to come close to feeding 4 people and added the second carton as well. It was the perfect amount for us! Around this time she also added some soy sauce. I think around 2-3 T, but I can’t be certain based on her complaining about how slow it was coming out of the bottle. She might have given up early.

All these spices, and none of the ones we need…

Because we were missing most of the spices we were supposed to have, we added some random meat tenderizing salt and celery salt to the mix (a sprinkle of both) and stirred it in with a silent prayer it would turn out okay.

Now we turned up the heat and waited for it to boil. Abbey disappeared somewhere at this point, so I added the chow mein noodles and set a timer for 3 minutes while I microwaved leftover rice from last nights giant burritos.

***Side note – I had to explain to Abbey that fried chow mein noodles as a topping were much different than stir-fry chow mein noodles. This recipe actually wanted vermicelli noodles with fried chow mein noodle topping. We improvised***


20181126_201223A hefty scoop of rice went into each bowl, followed by noodles/chicken/veggies, and was then topped off by the remaining broth.

Last but not least…a drizzle of toasted sesame oil over each bowl.

I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant to take a taste. I wasn’t even sure what we’d concocted at that point.


It was actually pretty dang amazing! Hubs loved it and the kids gobbled it up before we made it through the first 10 minutes of Sherlock on Netflix!


When your kitchen is mid-remodel and you haven’t done proper grocery shopping in a while…do your best and improvise where needed. It might just be awesome!


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