My son never fails to say “is that my favourite soup?” when he comes home from school and smells this cooking. It is a traditional chicken soup crossed with influences I have borrowed from Tonkinese soup, a Vietnamese specialty (thanks to my husband for searching out that part of the recipe). It is the perfect meal on a cold day or when someone is feeling under the weather – nourishing, fragrant and easy to digest, and there are so many ingredients contributing to the complex flavor that if you are missing a two or three, it still comes out great. Hands-on prep time is minimal, though it does need to simmer for a good part of the day.
Hope you enjoy it as much as my son.
16 cups water, roughly
2 medium onions, peeled, whole
3 celery sticks chopped in half, or a baseball-sized chunk of root celery
2 cinnamon sticks
5 star anise
5 whole cloves
handful fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
Other fresh herbs if on hand: oregano, sage, rosemary
salt to taste
6 chicken drumsticks, fresh or frozen
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced in circles
One large package rice noodles
Fish sauce (for seasoning or serving)
White vinegar (for serving)
Put all ingredients except chicken, carrots, fish sauce, vinegar and rice noodles into a large stock pot on high heat. When water boils, add chicken and immediately reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer all day (or at least 3 hours). The longer you simmer, the stronger the flavor but the less tender the meat.
Before serving, strain soup into another pot to remove solids and collect the broth. Put the broth back on the stove on low heat and add the carrots. Remove chicken meat from the bones and put chunks back into broth. Taste, and season with fish sauce or salt as needed. Simmer just until carrots are tender.
While soup simmers, boil a pot of water and cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain. Place noodles in bowls, cover with hot soup and serve. Season with fish sauce and vinegar to taste.