- 2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
- 3 slices of unpeeled fresh ginger, 1/2-inch-thick and smashed
- About 4 quarts cold water -- see below
- 3 pounds chicken thighs or mixed dark meat chicken
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Additional spices (optional): Cinnamon, star anise, black cardamoms, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and/or cloves
- 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
- 1 pound dried rice noodles, bánh phở if you can find them
- 4 large scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 pound mung bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup torn Thai basil leaves
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 2-3 jalapeños, thinly sliced
- Asian chili-garlic sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Fried shallots or red onions
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the onions and ginger on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until softened and browned at the edges.
Add the roasted onions and ginger to a large stockpot. Add the chicken, salt, sugar, and any of the optional spices (I added half a cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds). Add enough water to fully cover everything in the pot and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones and refrigerate the meat for later. Return the skin and bones to the stockpot and simmer for an additional 2 hours. At this point, I also added a generous handful of the mung bean sprouts to the pot. This is an optional step, but I like the subtle texture and flavor the sprouts add to the broth. After the broth has simmered another 2 hours, strain it into a large soup pot and cook over high heat until reduced to 12 cups. Stir in the fish sauce; adjust to taste. (At this point, the broth can be refrigerated for up to two days prior to final assembly and serving. I love ladling the broth into canning jars because they store nicely. You'll need 3-4 jars for storing this amount of broth.)
When you are ready for serving the soup, warm the broth in a stock pot. Add the reserved chicken to the broth and simmer until heated through. In a large bowl of warm water, soak the noodles until softened and pliable, about 20 minutes or according to the package instructions, if they differ. Drain well.
To serve the soup, Divide the noodles between 6-10 bowls (depending on the size of your bowls and the appetites of those at the table) and sprinkle with the scallion. Ladle the broth and chicken over the noodles. Serve with the bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeños, chili-garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, and crispy shallots or red onions. Given the variety in the bowls, I like to serve this soup with both spoons and chopsticks.
- Yields: 6-10 servings
- Preparation Time: 3 hours and 20 minutes