Monday, December 10, 2007

Yummy Soups Part II: Pho

Poe? Foe? Fuh?

Fee. Fie. Fo. Fum. Yum.

However it is that you pronounce it, this is one hearty happy soup. It's one of those things that is a bit of a pain to make -- it could be easier to just call up your local Vietnamese take-out joint.

On the other hand, there's nothing so wonderful as having the smell of this soup fill your kitchen on a cold, chilly day.

Vietnamese Pho
(Recipe adjusted from Cuisine)

10 cups of water
4 lbs chicken wings
2 yellow onions cut into quarters
2 cups of celery, coarsely chopped
1 head of garlic, cloves crushed

1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
1 piece of fresh ginger (5") halved lengthwise

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
juice of 1/2 a lime

6 oz rice vermicelli
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced jalapeno or serrano chiles
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 cups bean sprouts (I don't like bean sprouts so I leave them off)

Begin by making a broth. In a large pot, simmer the water, chicken wings, onion, celery and garlic. over a low heat for about 3 hours. Check the broth every so often and skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the top.

Over a gas burner, or on an electric burner on medium-high, char the cinnamon, star anise and ginger, to get a smoky flavor. Scrape the burnt skin off the ginger.

Add the ginger and spices to the broth and continue simmering for 20 minutes more. Then scoop out the large pieces from the broth with a slotted spoon or skimmer, and discard. Then strain the broth through a chinois. Return the broth to the pot and bring it back to a simmer.

Stir in the sliced chicken and simmer until cooked through. In the mean time, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook the rice vermicelli by submerging it in in the water with the heat off. When the chicken is done, turn off the heat under the broth and add scallions, red onions, carrot, fish sauce and lime juice. (This keeps the colors nice and bright.)

Scoop some of the noodles and vegetables into a bowl, ladle broth over them and then top with herbs, chilies and bean sprouts if you like.

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