It’s a new year, and I have a new job – so I and my new Crock Pot (a Christmas gift from a lovely family in Edmonton) are going to be very good friends, methinks. But why stop at stews? One of the very first meals I made in my new appliance is a satisfying Vietnamese soup that’s perfect for the cold winter months. Our family loves an iconic Vietnamese soup: Pho. It is gradually gaining momentum as a mainstream meal in Edmonton, and the key components are tender meat, rice noodles, bean sprouts, fragrant herbs and, most importantly, an intensely aromatic broth. The secret to this version is to char the ginger and onion before slow-cooking.
Yield: Serves 5 people
- 1 large onion
- 3 inch piece of ginger
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 4-5 pieces of star anise
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 1 bunch of coriander
- 2 chicken breasts bone-in
- chicken bones (if you have them) or 1 can of chicken stock
- 1 package rice noodles (flat style)
- bean sprouts, to serve
- hoisin sauce, to serve
- sriracha sauce (hot sauce), to serve
- 1 lime, quartered, to serve
- Cut onion in half. Place halves in a pan along with the ginger. Using a kitchen blowtorch, char the onion and ginger (alternatively, grill). Skin the onion and the ginger.
- Add the cloves, coriander seeds, star anise, brown sugar, fish sauce, halved onion and ginger to a large slow cooker. Chop the coriander, reserving the stalks. Add the stalks to the slow cooker along with the chicken, bones and stock, if using. Cover with water. Slow cook on low for at least 12 hours, ideally 24.
- Blanch the rice noodles and divide among 4-5 large bowls.
- Strain the broth. Shred the chicken. Top each bowl with chicken and pour the soup over. Add the chopped coriander tips and bean sprouts.
- Serve with a generous squeeze of lime, hoisin and sriracha sauce.
Adapted from The Steamy Kitchen.