For pho, the Vietnamese soup now found all over the West, a rich-tasting broth is crucial. But how do you produce one quickly? The answer: Simmer whole pieces of chicken in chicken broth. Leftover poached meat can be mixed with mayonnaise, chopped celery, and a pinch of curry powder for chicken salad.
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves, plus 4 thighs
9 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 stalk lemongrass
2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/2-in.-thick slices
1 large yellow onion, peeled and halved
8 ounces rice noodles
1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed, dried, and torn into 3-in. sprigs
1 lime, cut into wedges
4 ounces bean sprouts
1 jalapeño, cut into 1/4-in.-thick slices
How to Make It
Put chicken in a medium pot. Add broth, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Bruise lemongrass by chopping it a few times with the back side of a knife (blade up). Bend the stalk in half and add to pot along with ginger and onion. As soon as broth boils, reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes more.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add rice noodles and cook, stirring to keep them from sticking, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Transfer chicken pieces from broth to a large plate to let cool. Add fish sauce and white pepper to broth, cover, and keep warm over lowest heat. Remove and discard lemongrass, ginger, and onion.
When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones. Thinly slice meat. Arrange cilantro, lime wedges, bean sprouts, and sliced jalapeño on a platter.
Divide noodles among four large soup bowls. Put some chicken into each bowl, then pour 2 cups hot broth into each bowl. Serve with platter of toppings.