Green Pho

It has finally rained in California which got me thinking about soup. More specifically about bone broth; the healing tonic that results after simmering bones for a good long while. In its most basic form, bone broth is simply boiling bones for hours. In my opinion, this results in a pretty average experience. However, if you take a cue from Vietnamese Pho and add layers of charred onion and ginger, roasted bones, and amazing spices, well, it becomes chicken soup on steroids (the good kind). You get the anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, gut healing and skin beautifying benefits of bone broth all in a bowl of genuine deliciousness. 

A note about the long cooking time and vinegar: These, in addition to using bones from animals that were raised well, are really key in producing a healing bone broth. The vinegar helps extract the many minerals from the bones. The long cooking time is what results in a gelatinous texture rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, glucosamine, amino acids glycine and proline, and collagen.  

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Green Pho
inspired by Smitten Kitchen and Happyolks
serves 6-8

For Broth: 
2 onions, unpeeled and quartered
3 (1/2)-inch ginger slices
4 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods
4 cloves
4 star anise
1 TBS coriander seed
3 carrots, chopped into large chunks
1 fennel bulb, quartered
5.5 QTS filtered water
1 TBS apple cider vinegar (Bragg's)
4 lb organic chicken, quartered and neck removed (reserve for broth)
2 lbs organic chicken bones and/or wings
1 TBS sea salt
1/3 cup fish sauce (I splurged on this one)

Fixins:
1 baby bok choy, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 handfuls of thai basil leaves
2 handfuls of fresh mint leaves
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 lime, quartered
1 lb brown rice noodles
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced into rounds

Preheat the oven to 425'. Place bones (and/or wings) and reserved neck on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast until golden brown, flipping pieces half way through to encourage even browning. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove and let cool. Next, place onion and ginger on a baking sheet and transfer to the hot oven until charred on edges about 30 minutes.  

In a large stock pot, dry toast spices until they are fragrant. Add carrots, fennel, roasted bones, onions, ginger. Cover with 5.5 quarts of cold filtered water and bring to a boil. Add quartered chicken and bring back to a moderate simmer. When chicken is cooked, in about 30 minutes, remove with tongs to a plate. Once it has cooled slightly, shred meat, putting skin and bones back into the broth. Let broth simmer, partially covered, for another 5.5 hours. Strain and add fish sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning.  

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Divide among bowls. Gently warm broth with shredded chicken. Add bok choy, basil, mint, bean sprouts, green onion, jalapeño and lime to each bowl.  Pour hot broth over and serve.