I’ve been busy making soups of various types this week for a sick friend. It’s the one and only thing he fancies eating and I’ve been only too happy to oblige. I love making soups. It just amazes me how many different versions there are, but the one thing all soups have in common is that they are nourishing, restorative and easy to digest.
Favourite soup of the week? Well, it has to be this chicken noodle broth based on a Vietnamese pho recipe. Chicken soup is good for the soul… and the body and there’s plenty of research to support its curative powers such as soothing colds and flu symptoms. This pho also contains the healing properties of fresh ginger, chilli and spices.
What’s more, this could be the perfect way to use up any roast turkey you have leftover at Christmas – a double whammy!
Vietnamese chicken pho
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus infusing
Cooking time: 20 minutes
1.2 litres (5 cups) chicken stock (preferably homemade)
3 large sprigs of basil
2 large onions, sliced
1 long cinnamon stick
3 star anise
5cm (2in) piece fresh root ginger, sliced into thin rounds
1½ tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
4 large handfuls of curly kale or spinach, tough stalks removed and leaves torn
1 long red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced diagonally
3 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally
300g (10½oz) medium rice noodles
2 carrots, cut into thin strips
350g (12oz) cooked chicken or turkey, cut into strips
1 handful of beansprouts
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaves
2 tbsp roughly chopped mint leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
lime wedges, to serve
- Put the chicken stock, basil, onions, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger, soy sauce and fish sauce in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, part covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the broth to infuse for 30 minutes–1 hour – the longer the better, if you have time.
- Strain the stock, discarding the solids, and return it to the pan. Bring the broth to the boil, taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
- Add the kale, half the chilli and the white part of the spring onions, turn the heat down and simmer for 3 minutes until the kale has wilted.
- Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles following the instructions on the pack until softened, then drain and refresh under cold running water.
- Divide the noodles, carrots, chicken and beansprouts between 4 serving bowls. Ladle the hot broth over and serve sprinkled with the remaining chilli, green part of the spring onions and herbs with wedges of lime for squeezing over.
You can make the broth up to 3 days ahead and then reheat it before adding the veg and noodles.