Thursday, 1 May 2014

Pho Ga - Chicken Noodle Soup


My husband Big Pete has been feeling under the weather for the last few days and I made him this lovely soup to soothe and revive him back to health. Chicken soup is always a good idea!

You can roast an extra chicken when preparing your Sunday dinner or even pick one up already cooked from the grocery store. Toss some flavourings in a large pot with some cold water and let it simmer for a few hours and magic happens! Strain the soup, remove the chicken from the bones, and assemble a wonderful soup with all the toppings you like the best.

You will need:

  • a roasted chicken - remove most of the skin and breast meat. Keep the breast meat and discard the skin (I have a few roast chicken recipes on this site or try this one
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 2 onions - quartered and stems removed but I add the skin for colour
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic - just squished to release flavour
  • 5-6 thick slices of fresh ginger root 
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1/2 - 1 red pepper - whole
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 5-6 szechuan peppercorns - whole
  • 10 black peppercorns - whole
  • a handful of fresh cilantro/coriander
To serve - top with some or all of the following:
  • cooked vermicelli rice noodles or thicker rice stick noodles - mine soak in hot water for a few minutes
  • chopped/shredded chicken (1/2 cup per bowl or more if you prefer)
  • thin sliced yellow onions
  • thin sliced spring onions
  • grated ginger (1/2 tsp or so per bowl)
  • grated garlic  (1/2 clove grated per bowl)
  • bean sprouts
  • fresh cilantro/coriander
  • lime wedges
  • thin sliced radishes
  • thin sliced mushrooms
  • thin sliced snow peas/beans
  • sliced baby greens
  • chili oil
  • sambal olek or other chili sauce 

Step 1: Take a roasted chicken (you can buy a quality roasted chicken in many good grocery stores - get one that is plain or has lemon pepper vs a barbecue roasted chicken) Remove most of the skin and remove the breast meat. I discard the skin and then set aside the breast for slices on top of the soup. Break off wings, and legs and place bones and meat in a large pot. Cover with cold water. My pot takes 6 -7 cups of cold water depending on the size of the chicken.

Step 2: add aromatics: chop onions (I like to add the skins of the onions assuming they are clean and organic) remove skins from garlic, squish and toss in the pot. Add slices of ginger, star anise, a red chili, a few szechwan peppercorns, black peppercorns, salt (you need salt in this broth!) and a handful of cilantro stems and leaves.


Step 3: let the broth come to a boil for a minute, turn down to a low simmer and leave it alone for 2-3 hours (you can leave it longer if you like too!) Let it slowly, gently blip away on the stove. If you let it simmer away on low you will get a nice clear broth, if you let it boil it will get cloudy.


Step 4: strain the broth and then strain it again through cheesecloth. Remove all the bits of chicken that you have left on the bones. I like to pick away to make really clean pieces of meat with no nasty bits but...if that's your thing eat everything! Once you have your clear broth taste it and add more salt if necessary (it will be necessary!) then leave the broth in pot to stay hot until you pour over bowls. I find when you remove the skin there is virtually nothing to skim off the soup.


Step 5: chop all your condiments/toppings and soak your rice noodles.


Step 6: assemble your bowls. I add chicken on the bottom, then I grate the fresh ginger and garlic right on the chicken. I add the noodles, the broth and your condiments. If you like it spicy add more fresh chili or chili sauce, if you like mushrooms add a few slices etc... top with some sliced chicken breast etc.

This recipe makes 4 healthy sized bowls of yummy soup!


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