This month, I'm taking part in my very first Crazy Cooking Challenge over at Mom's Crazy Cooking! The first time I saw this challenge on another blog, I got super excited and couldn't wait to join in the fun. But I can't lie, when I received my first email with this month's theme, I was more than a little disappointed. Chicken Noodle Soup. I've never been a fan, not even when I'm sick. Every time I get a cold, my mama emails me her chicken noodle soup recipe and tells me to make up a batch and I'll feel better super quickly, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I thought that this month would be the push I needed. But then I read the rules and found out that the recipe I tried had to come from another blog, and, sadly, Mama doesn't have one. I was off the hook. I really just didn't want to try a dish I'm still not convinced I'll ever like. I was all set to email Tina and tell her I couldn't participate this month. But... Then I was craving my favorite noodle bowl from a little Vietnamese take-out place near our home. My husband went to get us some food, and they were closed! And that set the wheels in motion. I could Google the dish and try that! It's not traditional chicken noodle soup, but it has chicken, it has noodles, and it's soup. I found this recipe (with a few of my own tweaks, as written below) over at My Food Geek and was set. I was following all of Tina's rules. Now just to make the dish...
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons ground coriander
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon anise seed
2 quarts chicken stock
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 pound dried rice noodles
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
Spicy garlic-chili sauce
Sweet red chili sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
You might also incorporate bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, or other ingredients of your choosing.
Combine all the pho ingredients, except rice noodles, in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer 20 minutes, skimming the surface every five minutes.
Remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with two forks, set aside.
Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Add the dried noodles to the broth, raise the heat, and cook until noodles are done.
Using tongs, divide the noodles between four shallow bowls (pasta "plates" work well). Divide the chicken over the noodles. Finally, ladle the broth over the noodles and chicken.
Top the pho with the accompaniments of your choice. I drizzled each of our pho bowls with garlic-chili, red chili, and hoisin sauces, topped with sliced fresh red onion, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges, which we squeezed at the table. Of course, I placed small bowls of the accompaniments on the table so we could season to our own tastes as well!
This was a fabulously light meal, yet comforting on a winter night! My husband loved it and asked for a repeat performance! And the bonus? This pho conforms to the South Beach Diet, which we loosely follow!!