"First of all, thank my lucky stars for Deborah Madison, whose original recipe I have adapted and expanded on.
I am a big fan of preparing my ingredients ahead of time, and I especially recommend doing so with soup. It makes the cooking process so much easier to have everything you are going to need ready and waiting, instead of desperately scrambling to chop one thing while frantically stirring another."
|2 bn||Swiss chard|
|2 bn||cilantro (plus 3 T. finely chopped cilantro for the noodle nests)|
|3||fresh corn ears (kernels removed)|
|7 3⁄4 c||water|
|1 bn||scallions (large- or 2 smal bunches)|
|1⁄3 c||jack cheese (grated)|
|salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)|
|peanut oil (for frying noodle nests)|
|4 oz||fresh pasta (RP's angel hair egg pasta recommended)|
Trim the scallions, leaving 2-3 inches above the end of the white portion of the onion. Finely chop the scallions. Remove corn from cob- set to one side in the same bowl as the scallions. Coarsely chop the 2 bunches of cilantro, making sure you have at least 1 cup (packed tightly). More cilantro is just fine- it works out wonderfully in the soup. Tear the swiss chard leaves off of their stems. Tear or chop them into large pieces. The large pieces make for a pleasing texture and appearance in your soup.
Assemble the ingredients for your birds’ nests (the jack cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, fresh pasta, and cilantro). I recommend making these first, since they are a little bit more involved and they keep really well overnight. First, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Just when you think they’re stiff enough, beat them a little bit more. Stir in the other ingredients, except for the peanut oil. Heat enough peanut oil in a pan to allow your soon to be formed birds’ nests to float a little- about 1/3 an inch. Once the oil is hot, scoop out about 1/4 c. of birds’ nest into the pan. Fry that little bundle of flavors until golden brown on one side, than flip it over and do the same for the other side. Each side will take approximately one minute. Lay them on paper towel until you are ready for them.
Now, the soup. Heat 1-2 T. olive oil in your large soup pot. Once the oil is warm, toss in the scallions and corn. Keeping the heat at medium high, stir the scallions and corn frequently, until the scallions become soft (about 4 minutes). Add in the cilantro, along with about 3/4 c. water. Keep the heat on medium high and let the scallions, corn and cilantro stew together a little bit. Add the teaspoon of salt, and let them stew for another minute (about 3 minutes total). Add in the swiss chard leaves along with another cup of water and stew until the leaves wilt. Once they have wilted, add the additional 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.
Once the water is boiling, add the birds’ nests and reduce your heat to simmer for another 10-15 minutes. The peanut oil from the birds’ nests will add a wonderful flavor to your soup, and the nests themselves are like the offspring of a one-night stand between egg foo yung and noodle kugel (aka Awesome).