Pho Ga is a Vietnamese chicken soup. I give Mr. Logisical credit for discovering its magical, cold-killing properties. When I began coming down with a cold about a year and a half ago, he ran out and got me chicken soup from a local Vietnamese restaurant. Funny thing: I got better. Faster. Like, the next day faster.
So naturally, the next time he came down with a scratchy throat and runny nose, I made a dash back to the same restaurant. The nice lady at the counter asked me: Do you have a cold? Stunned, I said no, but my husband was coming down with one, and how did she know? Laughingly, she said that she had many customers who bought Pho Ga at the first sign of a cold.
I am sure you are thinking well, of course, chicken soup is good for a cold.
This is better. There is something about the combination of ingredients, I believe, that makes it superior for not just alleviating cold symptoms, but getting rid of them, altogether. We eat this soup now at the first sign of a scratchy throat or the sniffles. I am not sure if it is the herbs, or the Sriracha sauce, the lemon, or the ginger, or if it’s just the combination of these things that makes it work . . . but it does.
But here is the catch. The soup runs about $8, here for an order. That’s not horrendously expensive, but it was enough to make me wonder if I could make it, myself. I have a little obsession about DIY.
I have learned to keep the ingredients around in case I want to make it right away. Even if you are an apartment-dweller, you can grow herbs in pots. If you want to give this remedy a try, here are the how-to’s.
2 cans chicken broth plus 2 cans water
2 T. freshly grated ginger
½ bag rice noodles (OK to substitute vermicelli, if you can’t get rice noodles)
2 cans cooked chicken, or leftover chicken, shredded
2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
Fresh, washed, chopped herbs: mint, cilantro, and basil (Thai basil, if you can get it; otherwise, any fresh basil is fine). Aim for about 4 tablespoons of each. Don’t skimp – this may be a vital part of the medicinal properties of this recipe.
½ cup sliced green onions
One lemon, cut into quarters
Sriracha Sauce (aka, “Rooster Sauce” – a hot chili sauce)
First thing: you need to soften the rice noodles, or they will be very similar to rubber bands. This can be accomplished by patiently soaking them in hot water for about a half hour, or by throwing them into boiling water for about 15 minutes. I dislike rubber bands, so I boil those suckers. Get them going first.
Combine the chicken broth, water, the chicken, and ginger. Bring just to a boil; set aside.
Drain the noodles.
Wash and dry the herbs; chop. Make little piles of each. I suppose you could combine them, but that wouldn’t look as sporty at the table.
Get a soup bowl and put about a half cup of bean sprouts in it, followed by a scoop of noodles. Ladle chicken broth mixture over that. Top with about a tablespoon each of the herbs and green onions.
Add a teaspoon of hoisin sauce on top.
Now: Do not wimp out on me. Put a few drops of Sriracha sauce on top. DO IT. This is part of the magic. Have some water ready if you are deathly afraid of spicy food. I like four drops, five if I’m really snuffy. IT’S NOT THAT SPICY. I am kind of a spice wuss, but this doesn’t bother me.
Squeeze a quarter of the lemon on top.
Your nose is going to run, and that’s a good thing. Eat it up, go to bed early, and if you have any symptoms left the next day, eat the leftovers.
Thank me later.