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1 three to four pound chicken, cut into four pieces
4 chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1/3 pound fresh ginger, cut into four to six pieces
1/2 pound rice noodles, broken into short pieces
1 cup coriander, cut into two-inch sprigs
1/2 cup chopped scallions, green parts only
1 cup bean sprouts, their tails removed
1-3 chilies, optional
1. Put the chicken quarters, chicken thighs, salt, peppercorns, and the ginger in a large pot, and cover them with one gallon of water. Bring this to the boil, reduce the heat and skim the surface until no more scum rises to the top.
2. After half an hour, check the chicken to see if no pink meat remains, if so, remove the chicken from the bone, discard skin and bones, and pull the chicken meat into long strips. Do not use a knife to cut the meat.
3. Strain the broth. Return the chicken and all cooked solids and liquids to the pot, add the rice noodles, and bring to the boil. When the noodles are cooked, remove and discard the ginger, then add the coriander, scallions, and bean sprouts, and the chili peppers, if desired, and allow the soup to sit for five minutes before serving it in a large soup tureen or in pre-heated individual soup bowls.