My recipe for healing broken hearts, delirium tremens and sniffles is inspired by Vietnamese phở gà (pronounced ‘four gah’). On the morning after sampling more than one’s fair share of bia hoi there is no better pick-me-up than a hearty breakfast of chicken, chilli and rice noodles – a perfect foundation for a day of touring Confucian temples with the local cyclos.
In the past decade Scientists have concluded that chicken soup really does have healing powers, in particular anti-inflammatory properties to soothe sore throats and nasal passages. Chilli is also widely recognised for its health benefits, including clearing congestion, boosting circulation, and aiding relaxation and sleep.
Much loved readers if you are cooking this soup for want of soothing or healing, my heart-felt sympathy goes out to you. If you can muster up the strength, I’d love to hear your feedback on the recipe.
- Serves: 4 to 6, depending on hunger
- Preparation time: 50 mins, mainly waiting for stock to boil
- Cooking time: 1 hour
For the stock:
- 1 chicken carcass or 300gm chicken on the bone
- 1 carrot
- 1 whole stick of celery, including leaves
- 2 shallots or 1 brown onion
- 1 long red chilli
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice
- Salt and pepper
- 2 heaped tbsp chicken stock powder
- 2L water
For the soup:
- 1 chicken breast
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 long red chilli
- 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 200gm rice noodles, any size or shape
- 1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and sweat the onions. Turn up the heat and brown the chicken bones, then throw in all the other stock ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Strain the soup into a seperate bowl, reserving any chicken meat and discarding everything else.
Return the stock to the pot to finish the soup. Finely chop the reserved chicken and add to the broth. Add the chilli and garlic, and pop in the whole chicken breast uncut to poach for about 20 minutes. Remove the poached chicken breast and slice into thin pieces, then return to the pot. Add the noodles and simmer until translucent and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
To serve, scatter some coriander over each bowl of soup, and season to taste. Ngon!