Every culture has it’s comfort food. But soup may be the universal comfort food. Here in the Bay Area we have many cultures to choose from and each probably has a soup that will comfort a cold, a tummy ache, a hangover or even a broken heart.
With the end of the Vietnam war, the Bay Area saw an influx of Vietnamese refugees and in turn many Vietnamese restaurants. In San Francisco near Civic Center on Larkin street, signs went up just last year proclaiming the neighborhood to be “Little Saigon”.
Many of the Vietnamese restaurants in the Bay Area serve what is often described as the national dish of Vietnam, pho, a rice noodle soup. But some also serve a type of congee made with chicken and rice that is comfort food, no matter what your country of origin. A terrific place to try this soup is Aux Delices at 2327 Polk street in San Francisco, or you can try making your own version with this recipe.
Vietnamese Chicken Rice Soup (congee)
1/8 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 whole chicken
3 (2 inch) pieces fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped white onions
ground black pepper to taste
Place chicken in a stock pot. Pour in enough water to cover chicken. Add ginger and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and gently simmer for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.
Strain broth, and return broth to stock pot. Let chicken cool, then remove bones and skin, and tear into bite-size pieces; set aside.
Stir rice and onion into broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If necessary, adjust with water or additional salt, cook an additional 45 minutes for a thick consistency.
Ladle soup into bowls, and top with chicken and pepper.
To learn about Vietnamese Americans and the relationship between the US and Vietnam, visit Frontline: Vietnam Looking for Home