I’ll spend this weekend drinking wine, eating, laughing, snuggling, eating, hugging, reminiscing, lounging, eating, and also eating. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
That said, this week’s approach to food is going to have to be a little lighter if I am hoping to continue to wear my pants through the holiday season. With that in mind, I decided to make pho—the spicy, deeply flavorful, soul-hugging soup of Vietnamese origin, in which noodles swim (I used low-calorie shirataki noodles—usually found near the tofu in most grocery stores—to further atone for this week’s caloric intake, but rice vermicelli is what is traditionally called for), and atop which fresh toppings like scallions, bean sprouts and cilantro dance, waiting to be stirred in.
Note: This soup also happens to be a fantastic way to use up leftover turkey. Simply use the turkey carcass to make the broth, and shred cooked turkey meat to use in place of the chicken called for.
1 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
2 chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs), skin-on
5 cloves whole garlic, (peel-on), smashed
1 1" piece ginger, finely minced
1 whole onion, (peel-on), quartered
2 stalks lemongrass, coarsely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp Asian chili sauce (or more to taste)
2 tbsp Asian fish sauce
2 1/2 tbsp (plus more to taste) soy sauce
freshly ground pepper
1 lb rice vermicelli or shirataki noodles
optional garnishes: fresh cilantro, sliced jalapeño, sliced scallions, hoisin sauce, lemon wedges, mung bean sprouts
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
Add the Chinese 5-spice and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
Add the chicken legs and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes each.
Add the garlic, ginger, onion, lemongrass, lemon juice, honey, chili sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, pepper and 2 1/2 quarts of water.
Cover, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, fish it out using tongs and run under cold water to cool it down.
Slide the skin off the chicken pieces and use a fork or your fingers to slide the tender chicken meat off the bones, reserving the chicken bones, skin and gristle.
Return the bones, skin and gristle to the pot, cover and simmer for another 45 minutes.
Strain the broth and return to its pot.
Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Increase heat to high and bring broth to a boil.
Add the noodles and boil until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
To serve, use a ladle to portion broth into bowls.
Use tongs to add noodles to each bowl.
Divide the chicken pieces between the bowls, and serve immediately.
If desired, garnish with any of the optional garnishes.