Happy New Year! Time to get back to some realistic, healthy eating. You’ve got a few more long days before you have to head back to work or school, so make a big pot of this flavorful broth and hit the produce aisle for some fresh toppings. You can eat guilt-free all week long!
On my husband’s bucket list is to visit Southeast Asia and I’ll gladly join him if for nothing more than the food (although the history buff in me would certainly be fulfilled too!). Pho Ga, Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup, has quickly become one of our favorite dishes in the past few years (Columbus folks, try #46 Pho Ga with Chicken from Pho Asian Noodle House on Lane Avenue for a healthy, affordable and delicious take out meal — a nice tip if you are feeling lazy this weekend, but I assure you it’s more fun to make it from scratch!). On my list of things to learn how to make in 2014 was a great, from-scratch Pho Ga. Mission accomplished! A great recipe to share on the first day of 2015!
The first few weeks of my 30 week French Cooking Class at The Seasoned Farmhouse, we tackled many of the building blocks to cooking French food, including a class fully devoted to making stock (which of course, is the key ingredient to soups, stews and many of those delicious French sauces). We made chicken stock, fish stock, vegetable stock and learned some tricks for getting a great beef stock. In addition to learning a specific technique each week, we also tackle a few involved recipes that highlight that technique so that we can sit down together and enjoy a delicious lunch. To demonstrate how to infuse phenomenal flavor into stock in order to create a complex broth-based soup, we made Vietnamese Chicken Broth Pho Ga. Pho Ga broth seems so simple but don’t be fooled! It’s full of some really complex flavors. Add the Pho noodles, thinly sliced onions and some shredded chicken to that delicious broth and you’ve got your soup. Of course, it’s not complete until you top it with fresh Vietnamese goodness — cilantro, pickled jalapeños, bean sprouts, lime, siracha, hoison etc. etc.
(If you’ve got all these ingredients in the house, also try Bahn Mi Tacos for a healthy flavorful meal — two healthy home cooked meals, using similar ingredients — now that’s smart home cooking!)
Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) (Serves 8)
84 oz good quality chicken stock
chicken pulled from 1 rotisserie chicken or 3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
ALTERNATIVELY, MAKE YOUR OWN CHICKEN STOCK! — 3-4 lb organic whole chicken – made into chicken stock and chicken reserved (see Classic Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Stock for how to make stock)
1 large white onion, peeled and cut in half
7 large garlic cloves
large chunk of fresh ginger (about 3″ in length), peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
1 bunch of cilantro – leaves and stems (reserve some of the leaves for a topping )
2 whole star anise
12 whole cloves (if using ground cloves, use about 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or piece of cassia bark i.e. Saigon Cinnamon)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp salt
16 oz dried pho noodles or rice noodles
1/2 small onion, very thinly sliced
2-3 scallions, chopped
fresh lime wedges
pickled jalapeños (4 sliced fresh jalapeños, 1/4 cup rice or cider vinegar and 1/4 tsp salt — let sit for 20-30 minutes)
Siracha Sauce, Hoison Sauce, Hot Chili Oil
Make chicken stock (see Classic Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Stock — this will take a few hours so plan ahead or use boxed stock — Rachel Ray is known to make a good quality stock).
Using a broiler, a gas stove or a cast iron pan, char the cut side of the onion, both sides of the ginger and both sides of the garlic until the surface is about 50% black to add a great smoky flavor to the soup (I used my gas stove for the onion and ginger and put the garlic in my cast iron skillet).
In large soup pot or dutch oven, add chicken stock, charred onion, ginger and garlic. Let simmer for about an 1-1 1/2 hours. Strain broth and put back into pot along with cilantro, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, white pepper, brown sugar, fish sauce and salt. Simmer for another 30 minutes to develop flavor. Meanwhile, chop up and prepare all of your toppings including the easy pickled jalapeños. When broth is done, strain it through a find mesh sieve to remove all hard spices, cilantro etc, leaving a pure broth. Taste the soup and add salt if necessary.
Bring the stock to a boil and add the thinly sliced onions and the pho noodles (they will cook in a matter of minutes) then turn down heat and add the pulled chicken. Divide evenly among bowls and top with scallions, cilantro, fresh lime, pickled jalapeños and sauces.
Adapted from Chicken Broth Pho Ga from The Seasoned Farmhouse