Julie and I often enjoy a roast chicken dinner together. She has the breast and I the leg and thigh. This leaves a lonely carcas and lots of meat. Leave a little bit of breast meat aside for the dogs, and there is still another good meal waiting for a little magic. We call this Chicken Noodle Soup. You might call it Pho Ga.
The first step is to combine all of the skin, bones, meat trimmings, and any juice left on the carving platter in a pot. I use a 3 1/2 qt. pot, and I fill it to the top with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer while you prepare everything else.
Everything else is really not much, but the spices are really important to me.
I use one small onion, peeled and cut in half (in that order – the two ends will hold the onion halves together later.) A nice, fat chunk of ginger about 1″ long, cut in half. Half a head of garlic cut in half across the equator. Then the spices: 3 cinnamon sticks, five or six cloves, five or six star anise, and a tablespoon of coriander seeds. The onion and ginger need to get cooked.
Place the cit sides down over the grates of gas stoves (or a grill) and cook until blackened. Turn occasionally to cook evenly. It should take about ten minutes over medium heat. Take your time. This step provides great color for the broth, but also adds depth of flavor.
As your pot of bones and trimmings slowly simmers, melted fat and dissolved proteins will rise to the surface. It’s not important to make it perfect, but I usually try to skim off most of the scum and fat and wash it down the drain.
After half an hour or so simmering and skimming, the liquid should be more or less clear.
Now it’s time to add the aromatic ingredients.
All you have to do is wait. Go about your business. The broth will simmer very slowly for somewhere between two and three hours happily.
In the meantime, soak your pho (rice noodles.) Enough cold water to cover them in a bowl is all it takes.
After an hour or so, the noodles will become completely soft and pliable. Drain them and hold until ready to serve the soup.
While you wait, you can also prepare the chicken meat and herb garnish. I like chopped green onions in the bowl, and a plate of Thai basil and shiso or cilantro on the side. You may also like thinly sliced jalapeno peppers. Julie does…
When the cooking time is up for the broth, and the liquid in the pot is slightly reduced,
strain through a sieve into another pot.
The color and aroma should be intoxicating…
Bring the broth to a boil (or use a separate pot of boiling salted water) and add the noodles.
30 seconds is enough, then transfer the noodles to warm soup bowls. Top with the shredded chicken meat and green onions.
Pour the broth over the top and enjoy!