Chicken soup with vermicelli noodles is a Vietnamese dish that is guaranteed to comfort on any miserable day!
There are times in Canberra that are so cold I believe the only ones roaming outside are the white walkers. On these days, I generally avoid leaving the comfort of my bed, but when my little girl is awake even the laziest of us must eventually get up. The upside of being cold is that it opens up to a number of winter warmer recipes. One of my favourites is this very simple variation of chicken noodle soup called Mien Ga (translates to vermicelli chicken).
My version of this dish uses my chicken stock recipe that forms the base of a lot of my soups. It requires a few more ingredients than most other recipes but I believe it is well worth it. It is of utmost importance for the stock to be on point in a noodle soup dish. If the soup is lifeless and bland then the whole dish will fall flat on its face no matter how good the other elements are. So, give your stock a little extra love and care, and it will go a long way in developing a fantastic soup.
Another element I have learnt to give a little more attention to is the noodles. There have been plenty of times when I have destroyed the noodles by letting it cook for far too long. I was the worst repeat offender in the country until I discovered the secret to good firm noodles. Don’t leave them unattended. Ever.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a sprinkler. I can’t help but garnish all my dishes to kingdom come. I know I overdo it at times but the flavour, colour and texture it adds just takes it to another level. In this particular noodle soup there is black fungus, spring onion, coriander and deep fried shallots. Without these elements, there would be no freshness or life to the dish. So, please… do not skimp on the garnishes!
My last words on this post is like all my others. Give this recipe a go. It is a dish I serve regularly to my family and have fine tuned over numerous attempts. So I can assure you that it tastes great!
Vietnamese Chicken Soup with Vermicelli Noodles - Mien Ga
- 20 gm of shredded or whole black fungus tore into small pieces
- 200 – 350 gm of bean vermicelli noodles (50 – 70 gm / person)
- 1 whole chicken approx 1.8 kg / 4 lb, cleaned and not frozen
Roughly 2.5 L of water for the soup
2 brown onions, quatered
2 spring onions, trimmed
5 cloves of garlic, flattened
- 1 medium swede, peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 carrots, roughly chopped into small pieces
- 2 slices of ginger
5 coriander roots (optional)
4 tbsp / 60 ml of fish sauce
1/2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
Fresh cracked pepper
- Coriander, chopped
- Spring onion, chopped
- Fried shallots (store bought)
- Birds eye chilli, chopped (optional)
- Lime wedges
- Put the chicken and all soup ingredients into a pot and bring the water to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, continue to simmer on a low – medium heat for 1 hr 15 mins.
- During the simmer 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.
- After 1 hr 15 mins remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool on a plate. Check the chicken is cooked by poking the breast with a chopstick. . If there is any blood oozing out then return it to the pot and simmer until cooked
- Strain the soup into a large bowl and press as much soup from the vegetables as you can. See cooking note 6 if you intend on keeping the vegetables.
- Pour the soup back into a clean pot on a low heat setting. You should have roughly 2 litres of soup.
- Soak the black fungus in plenty of boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and then rinse with tap water. Set aside.
- Soak the bean vermicelli noodles for 8 – 10 minutes in plenty of warm water or follow the directions as per the packaging. See note 4.
- Shred half of the chicken meat or an amount of your liking and store the remainder for another meal.
- Add the black fungus to the broth and cook for 5 minutes. Then scoop the fungus out and set it aside for assembly.
- Check the soup for seasoning and adjust according to taste. Note: Use fish sauce to adjust salt content of the broth.
- Ensure the broth is brought up to a solid boil.
- Place the soften vermicelli noodles into each bowl.
- Place the shredded chicken on top of the noodles.
- Pour the boiling soup over noodles and chicken.
- Sprinkle garnishes on top. I usually go coriander, spring onions, fried shallots and then chilli.
- Try to use 2.5 litres of water to boil the chicken. It is not necessary for the chicken to be completely submersed for the simmering phase.
- There will be a lot of chicken left over. Be sure to have a recipe in mind to use up the chicken before making the dish.
- Cutting the vegetables into small pieces will help the soup absorb more of the flavours.
- I use Pine Brand Vermicelli Noodles which suggests a soak time of 7 + mins. However, not all noodles are the same, so it is best to go with the instructions on the packet.
- If you need to stretch the soup out with more boiling water, then I suggest adding chicken bouillon powder and more fish sauce. This will help maintain the flavour of the soup.
- If you do not want to discard the vegetables, then do not squeeze the broth out of them.
- If you want to avoid the fish sauce smell while cooking the soup, add it after the soup has been strained. This however, will cause the chicken meat to not absorb as much flavour and the soup to be slightly saltier.