The weather is cooling, but most of us are still clinging to what’s left of summer. I have therefore created a recipe to bridge the seasons; a warming aromatic soup with crisp fresh vegetables. Loosely based around a Vietnamese Pho, this delicate yet fragrant soup has layers of flavours and I believe it has restorative feel to it. You can reduce the time spent creating this dish by simply using good quality chicken stock and poaching a chicken breast. However, as they say, good things in life take time. This is a meal the whole family can enjoy – and it’s flexible, in that you can substitute any of the vegetables for those your family prefer. Enjoy!
PREP TIME: 15 MINS
COOK TIME: 1 HR 20 MINS
SERVES: 5-6 PEOPLE
1 whole free range chicken
1 large onion, roughly sliced
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, roughly sliced
6-8 star anise
2 cinnamon quills
3 cardamom pods bruised
3 tablespoons fish sauce
Enough water to cover chicken, about 2-2.5 litres
1 tablespoon palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Noodles and garnish
1 1/2 packs rice noodles
2 good handfuls Thai basil
1 good handful fresh coriander
1 fresh chilli, sliced thinly
6 heads of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 courgettes, cut in quarters long ways, then cut in half
1 bag bok choi, ends cut off
1 small bag of bean sprouts
1 lime quartered
- Take broth ingredients and pop into large pot. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about one hour and 20 minutes (if you want to add more flavour, scorch your onion and ginger in a very hot oven – about 210 degrees, for about 10-15 mins – before putting in broth).
- About an hour into the chicken cooking, start the rest of your dish. Bring a pot to the boil and cook your rice noodles according to packet instruc-tions. Drain and set aside. These can stick to-gether so run under a little hot water just before serving.
- Blanch the broc-coli, bok choi and courgettes. Do this by briefly dipping in boiling water for about 30 seconds.
- Remove the chicken from the broth, leaving the broth to continue to simmer. Pull skin off chicken and discard. Pull chicken off the bone, shredding as you do. Set aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Taste your soup and add a little more fish sauce, salt, lime juice or even a little chicken stock if it’s lacking (which it shouldn’t be). Spoon off any residue off top of soup.
- Strain soup through a fine sieve or muslin. Bring back to the boil.
- Divide noodles evenly between five bowls, then add vegetables and shredded chicken. Next pour over the boiling broth. Garnish with bean sprouts, herbs, chilli and lime. Serve immediately.