This is the dish you should make when you’re not sure about the world. If you’ve been a bit battered and knocked about, this soup should restore you to your former glory. Fresh, vibrant, zesty, rich yet light, this soup will give you hope again.
A bold statement, but this is a heavenly bowl of soup. Yes, it does have the bold and assertive flavours of ginger, garlic, chilli and sesame, but it is also subtle and gentle. The noodles are rice noodles, which delight the mouth with their springy, bouncy texture. The porky meatballs are flavourful and meaty, but not too heavy. And the raw vegetables, just cooked in the steaming hot broth, are a textural sensation.
This has a lot of the same qualities and ingredients as the Vietnamese pho, but is distinct as it doesn’t use the flat rice noodles, and it doesn’t use the spiced stock that takes a while to perfect.
But the point is that this meal can be made quickly on your return from work, rather than requiring the preparation that would come with making the right stock. In any case, this stock is a worthy base to this soup; an ‘ordinary’ chicken stock made aromatic by steeping with ginger and the trimmings of the lemongrass and chilli. It’s a perfect ‘cheat’ for a dish that can be made in half an hour. Which makes this dish a perfect dish for when the day has just been a little too much.
And this soup will make you feel that you’re giving your body a little bit of an internal pampering. If you’ve had a weekend of heavy meals and ample drinking, this is just the ticket for Monday night.
Trust me, this will be a really good start to your week.
For the meatballs
- 500g pork mince
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, grated
- 2 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves removed and tender insides finely chopped
Reserve the trimmings
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
You can remove the seeds if you like, but it’s not overpowering to keep them in. Reserve the trimmings
- Half bunch coriander, chopped
- 4tbsp rice crumbs
These are gluten free version of breadcrumbs and work really well in this dish. If you can’t find any then panko breadcrumbs or dried breadcrumbs will work well too
- 1tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1tbsp sesame oil
- 1tbsp rapeseed oil
For the broth
- 1ltr chicken stock
Homemade will make a real difference here so use it if you can
- 5” ginger
You don’t need to bother to peel it, just cut it into slices
- 1tbsp soy sauce
- 1tbsp fish sauce
Extra points if you use Vietnamese fish sauce. However, I only had Thai so I used that
- 240g rice noodles
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 300g bag beansprouts
- 1 chilli, finely sliced
- Half bunch coriander, roughly torn
- 3 sprigs mint, leaves picked and stems discarded
- Warm the chicken stock through and add the lemongrass trimmings, chilli trimmings and ginger. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the pork mince with the spring onion, garlic, lemongrass, chilli, coriander, rice crumbs, sesame seeds and sesame seeds. Squish the mix between your hands to thoroughly combine. Season lightly.
You won’t need to use much salt, due to the soy sauce and fish sauce in the broth
- Working quickly, shape the patties in your hands.
I made 16 patties, which was perfect for 4 people. I find slightly flattened meatballs easier to fry
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked.
- Sieve the chicken stock, discarding the trimmings, and return to the heat until piping hot.
- Cook the noodles according to packet instructions (approximately 4-5 minutes). Drain and refresh in cold water. Divide between four large bowls.
- Divide the beansprouts, red onion, chilli and herbs between the four bowls.
- Add four meatballs to each bowl and top with the piping hot stock.
- Serve immediately, and enjoy this restorative elixir.