Every now and then, I’ll find myself completely stressing out a dinner I’m hosting or a dish I’m trying for the first time.
I lose focus of the point of the evening – time with friends, great food and relaxing together. Relaxing being the operative word.
I recently read this interview with Nigella Lawson on NYT. Often associated for her looks and glamour in the kitchen (can you see my eyes rolling to the back of my head?) she’s actually credited with bringing people back into the kitchen.
I love her philosophy – food should be just as enjoyable for the cook as the eater. That appetite is one of life’s greatest gifts, and we ruin it with stress and anxiety around cooking – and eating for that matter.
In “How to Eat” she writes: “Never worry about what your guests will think of you. Just think of the food. What will taste good?
I repeated this quote in my brain this past weekend as I prepped for dinner with a few friends. I love recipes like this Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) because everyone can customize their own bowls. I’m not cooking while guests are here, because it’s easy to prep before everyone gets there.
It’s also fun food to eat. Pho Ga forces you to slow down and interact with your food by adding sauces, pastes, herbs, and fried things to your soup.
Another thing I love about Pho Ga is that two soups will never look the same. Depending on your sauces and flavorings, yours might look completely different than your neighbors.
The recipe looks like it takes forever (it kinda does) but 90% of the time listed below is just letting the broth get all nice and flavorful on your stove-top. I actually prepped my broth the night before and just got it hot on the stove just before serving.
If you need this soup immediately, I don’t blame you. Use pre-made chicken or veggie stock and customize it with lots of toppings.
Grab some friends and the largest bowls you can find and relax over Pho Ga this weekend.
Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup)
(start making 4 hours before you want Pho Ga)
Start by tearing all the meat off your rotisserie chicken. You want these in bite-size-ish pieces. Set this aside for when you’re serving your soup.
Fill up a large pot with water and add in the bones/remainder of your rotisserie chicken. Let this come to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, mostly covered, on the stove top for 2 hours.
At the 2 hour mark, add in your hunks of ginger and shallot. Let simmer for another hour, mostly covered. If needed, add more water so your chicken is completely covered.
At 3 hours, drain the soup. You’ll place a colander over a large bowl in your sink. You want to catch the chicken bones, ginger and shallots but save the broth.
Get the both heating up on the stove again, just simmering, mostly covered. Add salt or fish sauce if you feel like the broth needs a little more flavor.
At this point you can start prepping your toppings. Cook your noodles according to the package instructions, and portion them out among your dishes.
Add your chicken to the dishes as well. Ladle the soup over the noodles and chicken in each bowl. Since the broth should be hot, it will warm up the noodles and the chicken.
Build your bowl! I personally love as many fresh herbs as possible, extra crispy shallots, an absurd amount of chili paste and a generous squeeze of lime.