Fresh and vibrant, this Vietnamese soup is super easy to put together – you’ll find yourself craving it again and again!
Do you have a favorite cuisine? I love how each country around the world (and each region of all those countries) has it’s own specialties, with wonderful and unique characteristics. I’d be hard pressed to pick one I like the best, but I must say Vietnamese food is in my top five, for sure. Why? I think Wikipedia explains it perfectly:
“Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.”
All those things are true about these Vietnamese Chicken Rice Soup Bowls. On top of that, you can put this fabulous meal together in just 30 minutes!
I also love that, while the soup itself is a recipe, the toppings and add-ons are quite variable. I used thinly sliced rotisserie chicken, red cabbage, mango, cucumber, carrots and chopped peanuts along with the chicken. You could also use sugar snap peas, snow peas, nappa cabbage, edamame, bean sprouts, papaya, mandarin oranges, scallions, daikon radish, bell pepper, avocado… Really, whatever you love and looks the freshest at your market!
The same is true with the fresh herbs. I used basil and cilantro, but you could also add mint leaves – or use any combination of the three. If you happen to find Thai basil, it will make the flavor even more authentic.
You might not think this really looks much like soup. It’s Vietnamese soup! In Vietnam, the “broth” for soup is frequently served separate from the meat and veggies. I decided to use that method as well, to keep the vegetables and herbs super fresh and vibrant. These Vietnamese Chicken Rice Soup Bowls would make a fun buffet; you could have a large bowl of hot rice, a platter of sliced chicken, lots of smaller bowls of fresh veggies and herbs. Add a steaming bowl or pitcher of the delicious, fragrant broth and let everyone design their own pretty bowls.
I call it “broth” for lack of a better word – it’s really way more than that. It starts out with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, red curry paste, yellow curry powder and brown sugar, all sautéed together in a splash of coconut oil. After that comes coconut milk and a 15-minute simmer, to marry all the delicious flavors and reduce the coconut milk. Add some chicken stock and you’re just about done. Except for the fun part, putting it all together!
Chúc ngon miệng! (That means Bon Appetit in Vietnamese.)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh lemongrass
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon mild yellow curry powder
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 28 ounces light coconut milk 2 14-ounce cans
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sliced rotisserie chicken breaset
- 1-½ cups shredded cabbage
- 1-½ cups shredded carrots
- 1 English cucumber seedless, julienne cut into 2 inch strips
- 1 cup thinly sliced mango
- 1 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts
- small fresh basil and/or cilantro leaves for garnish
- For the rice:
- 3/4 cup jasmine rice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Heat coconut oil over medium-low heat in a medium large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add garlic, ginger, lemongrass, red curry paste, curry powder and brown sugar and cook for 2-3 minutes or until very fragrant.
- Add coconut milk, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a nice steady simmer and cook, uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until reduced to about half the original volume.
- Add the chicken broth, fish sauce and salt and bring to a simmer again. Cook another 5 minutes then remove from heat, cover and keep warm.
- While the coconut milk mixture is simmering, make the rice. Place rice in a medium-size sauce pan. Rinse 3 times by covering the rice with plenty of water and swishing the water with your hand. Drain off as much water as possible in between rinses. After the third rinse, drain well and then add the 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a steady, low simmer and cook uncovered, until most of the water has evaporated and wet “craters” form on top of the rice. (Watch the rice carefully and don’t let it get too dry.) Cover tightly and remove from heat. Allow to sit 10 minutes, then uncover and fluff with a fork. At this point you can cover it again to keep warm until ready to serve.
- Combine peanuts and the finely chopped cilantro.
- To prepare soup bowls, add 1/2 cup rice to each of 4 bowls. Working around the bowls, arrange the sliced chicken next and continue with the other veggies. Top with basil leaves, chopped peanuts and cilantro. Ladle coconut milk broth over or along side of the chicken and rice.
- An alternate way to prepare these bowls is to shred the rotisserie chicken and add it to the broth. Combine the veggies in a medium-size bowl. Ladle the broth into 4 individual serving bowls. Top with a scoop of the rice and a pile of the fresh veggies. Garnish with peanuts and fresh herbs.