1 small onion, quartered
1 piece fresh ginger (2 inches long)
5 clove garlic, skin left on
8 cups chicken broth
2 tbsps brown sugar
3 tbsps fish sauce
3 piece star anise
1 piece cinnamon stick (3-4 inches long) broken in half
1/4 tsp chili paste (optional)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, filet removed
1/2 lb rice noodles
8 oz bean sprouts (225 g)
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 green onions, sliced
2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fresh Thai or Italian basil
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
Heat oven to 375F. Put onion, ginger and garlic on a cookie sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a large pot, combine chicken broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, star anise, cinnamon sticks, chili paste, roasted onion, ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Add chicken breasts to broth and poach for 20 minutes or until thermometer inserted into the largest piece reads 170F. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Strain broth into another pot and set aside.
Slice chicken breasts.
Blanch noodles in a pot of boiling water (about 1 minute), strain and divide into 4 bowls. Top with sliced chicken, red onion, green onion, bean sprouts, cilantro, basil and mint. Pour broth into each bowl. Add condiments as desired.
Condiments: fish sauce, chili sauce, hoisin sauce, lime wedges, cilantro, basil, mint, bean sprouts, red pepper flakes.
Tip: The broth can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months. Make a double batch of the broth to save time the next time you crave this soup.