This Vietnamese chicken pasta soup was a favourite of mine growing up. It was the perfect dish to have whenever I felt under the weather because it was basically a bowl of pure comfort. The soup is made with a whole chicken that is layered with root vegetables to give an unbelievable depth of flavour. The pasta provides the bulk and the garnishes add texture and a little bit of eye candy. This recipe is simple and relatively cheap to make which is ideal for budgets and cold winter nights!
My mother believes the origins of this recipe comes from a fusion of two cultures and circumstance. The Vietnam war had a devastating effect on the Vietnamese people and many escaped by boat during and after the war. For the very fortunate Vietnamese refugees who survived and migrated to countries like Australia and America it was the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new life. This is where she believes Sup Nui Ga (literally translates to Soup Pasta Chicken) was developed.
My parents first set foot in Australia in 1981 and in that time period Asian ingredients were a rarity. Vietnamese migrants had to substitute many ingredients to continue creating their traditional dishes. However, in some cases, a completely new dish was created. According to my mum, this is what happened to a very popular traditional noodle soup that used bean vermicelli. Since this was unavailable at the time, pasta was substituted in and Sup Nui Ga was born!
My recipe is very straight forward and simple. Having said that, I am very susceptible to rookie mistakes. I had an incident a few months earlier, where I completely forgot about the pasta cooking in the soup. When I had a look to assess the damage… the pasta had absorbed so much stock, that there was barely enough to wet a tissue. As you can imagine, I raged. Eating dinner that night with pasta three times the size it should be and no soup didn’t help either. So, to prevent this ever happening again I changed the recipe to use salted water rather than the stock to cook the pasta. And to be honest, I don’t know why I didn’t do this in the first place!
My Tips for Success
- There will be a lot of chicken meat leftover. It is a good idea to have a recipe lined up to use up the leftovers like a casserole or pie.
- It is not necessary for the chicken to be completely submersed during the simmering phase. I suggest sticking to 2.5 L so that you don’t dilute the flavour of the soup.
- Cutting the vegetables into smaller pieces will help the soup absorb more of the flavours. This is particularly important when simmering for a short amount of time.
- Keeping the chicken whole prevents the meat from drying out. I suggest tearing the pieces of chicken just before serving if possible.
- Do not waste the stock vegetables. I suggest squeezing the juice out of them after the simmering phase to maximise the flavour of the soup. If you can’t be bothered, then scoop them out and serve them with the pasta soup or on the side.
This recipe is definitely a winner when it comes to making winter warmers for the family. It is also a perfect soup dish for those who feel a little under the weather. So give it a go, and I am sure you will not regret that you did!
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Vietnamese Chicken Soup With Pasta - Sup Nui Ga
Sup nui ga is a fusion of a traditional Vietnamese chicken soup and Italian pasta! This recipe is healthy, comforting and delicious with the added bonus of making it from scratch.
- 1 whole chicken 1.8 kg / 4 lbs, washed and not frozen
- 2.5 L / 2.6 qt water
- 1 brown onion, quartered
- 5 garlic cloves, flattened
- 1 large swede / rutabaga, peeled and chopped into small chunks
- 2 carrots, chopped into small chunks
- 5 coriander roots (optional but highly recommended) (Note 1)
- 3 - 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cracked pepper
- 500 gm / 1.1 lbs pasta curls or your choice
- 6 stalks coriander, chopped (optional)
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 4 tbsp fried shallots (highly recommended) (available at Asian groceries)
- 2 fresh chillies, chopped (optional)
Add 2.5 L of water to a large pot and bring it to the boil on high heat. Once the water is boiling, add the chicken (breast side down) and bring it back to the boil. Remove the scum off the surface with a spoon.
Add all the soup base ingredients, except the fish sauce. Partially cover the pot with the lid and allow the soup to simmer for 1 hour on medium low.
During the simmering phase, remove the scum/fat build up on the surface of the soup with a spoon. I personally do not remove all the fat from the soup, as I prefer to leave a bit for flavour.
Boil salted water and cook the pasta till al dente. Drain and set aside.
After 1 hour turn off the heat and allow the chicken to sit in the soup for 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool on a plate. Check the chicken is cooked though. If still raw, put it back into the soup until done.
Strain the soup. Squeeze the liquid out of the veggies by pushing it against a strainer or keep whole and serve on the side.
Add 3 tbsp of fish sauce to the soup. Check the soup for seasoning and add more according to your taste. (Note 2)
Note: Use fish sauce to up the salt content of the soup or boiling water to dilute the flavour.
Place the pasta into each bowl.
Shred pieces of chicken and place on top of the pasta.
Pour the boiling soup over the top of the pasta and chicken.
Sprinkle garnishes on top.
- The best way to get coriander root is to buy coriander with roots attached. If this is not possible you can substitute with 2 tbsp of coriander seeds or just omit all together.
- The soup should be slightly saltier then how you would normally have it. This is because the pasta and garnishes will dilute the flavour and seasoning.