The Soup Blog
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Leaks Not Leeks: Chicken Bok Choy Soup

Spring Leak

It was one of those weeks when things just went wrong.

I thought we’d already gotten through the rough part of the month what with taxes and the big 12-course wine dinner. This week was supposed to be all fun: My daughter’s birthday party, softball games, Easter, warm weather. I’d even bought a big box of baby bok choy at Costco so the latest blog installment was going to write itself.

No such luck.

Good Friday morning I walked into the kitchen and noticed that the rug in front of the sink was a little damp. Okay, I didn’t notice it.  My youngest came into the family room with some cereal and said that the kitchen floor was all wet.

I got up to investigate and found water all over and a hissing sound coming from behind the refrigerator. It turned out that the hose that led to the back of the icemaker had somehow sprung a leak and was squirting water at high pressure all over the wall, under the fridge, and onto the floor.


Thinking fast, I got under the sink to turn off the water.  The problem was that the plumbing in this whole house is all a bit shoddy, something we discovered two leaks ago (this is number three). True to form, the place where the refrigerator hose tapped into the cold water didn’t have a shut off valve.

No problem. I’d just turn off the water for the whole house, down in the basement. Only when I got there, I saw water dripping down through the ceiling along several newly exposed seams in the drywall.

More of a problem then I thought. This thing had been going for a while.

Even so, I turned off the water and went back upstairs to start cleaning up.  Several beach towels later, I got the whole kitchen mopped up and threw the kitchen rug into the garage to dry.

That’s when I walked into the dining room and discovered that the water had done a fair amount of pooling in there as well, soaking the wall to wall carpeting and saturating all the padding underneath.

How much worse is this going to get?

We try calling our landlord, only to discover that after the loss and replacement of numerous cell phones, we no long had her number. (Yes, I know, we’re stupid!) Nonetheless, we decide to call a plumber to get the repairs rolling and email our landlord the bad news.

As I clear out the cabinet beneath the sink for the plumber to work, a whole nest of ants reveals itself to me and before I can get rid of them all, the plumber gets in there and wipes most of them out with a propane torch. (Don’t worry they’re all back now.) Then he tells me how most of the plumbing under the sink is not only poorly done, but illegal to boot. (As opposed to killing ants with an open flame in an enclosed space, which may be perfectly legal but not all that smart.)

Then he gets to work while my wife has taken the kids to IHOP for breakfast and I worry about the writing project I’ve got due later that day.

It was about this time that we decided to postpone our daughter’s birthday party. The weekend’s slate of softball games had already been cancelled due to the torrential rain which made the fields unplayable.

Hadn’t I mentioned the rain?

Well, we still hadn’t risen again after three days but I did manage to throw together a quick soup. A soup I really liked. It was another one of those stabs at Asian cuisine that I’m getting pretty good at.  I sautéed some onions and garlic, tossed in some bok choy and ginger, flooded everything with stock and brought it to a simmer. Then, when I’d wilted everything pretty well, I added cilantro (or Chinese parsley, as some folks call it), chicken and some salt and pepper.

Uh oh, did I just add too much salt?

Yes, was the family consensus.

What my eldest said was, “No offense, Dad, but it tastes like salt water, and I don’t like salt water. No offense.”

None taken. Just like none of the soup was taken.

Even so, I still stand by this soup. My recipe says salt and pepper to taste, which means if you don’t like salt water, act accordingly.

Some things you can control.

Others you can’t.

Chicken Bok Choy Soup
(serves 6-8)
1 T canola oil
1 medium onion, slivered
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs baby bok choy, chopped
2 tsp ginger, grated
6 cups chicken stock
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lb, chicken, cut into small  (½ “ cubes)
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Heat the oil and sauté the onion and garlic over medium.
  2. If the garlic is cooking to fast add the bok choy and ginger to slow it down. Then add the stock.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce it to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add the cilantro, chicken and seasoning (not too much) and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve the soup warm. A great accompaniment to this soup is dumplings.  I cooked up some pot stickers and floated them in the soup and they were a great addition.  They didn’t compensate for the hyper abundance of salt, but then you won’t make that mistake will you?

Image Credit: “Spring Leak,” from an uncredited image found on the web. 

Traditionally, Good Friday has been a pretty good day for us. It was the day my first daughter was born, which also got me out of making a speech at church that year. But not the next one! So I guess there are Good Fridays and great ones. Good isn’t bad. How’s your week been going?


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