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)

4 serving

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

Chicken Rice Soup:Vietnamese Comfort Food 22 November,2010Amy Sherman

  • Anonymous

    your recipe is quite authentic. However, for a real touch of “down home” briefly roast the rice in a skillet before cooking it in the broth. This prevents the rice from becoi=ming to glutinous.

  • Anonymous

    I was served this by some of my Vietnamese friends when I was sick with a flu bug. I swear it was a miracle soup – I’m sure it was partly the special ingredient of love, but I’ve also heard that it’s been scientifically proven that that there’s something in chicken broth that strengthens your immune system, and soothes the stomach – ginger too.

  • Anonymous

    it’s not authentic without fish sauce

  • jessie

    my best friend’s mom made this for me when i got my wisdom teeth out, kindest and best thing ever! she used green onion instead, which was the only thing that made it difficult to eat. taste good with lemon juice and cilantro on top too!


Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her
friends and family were constantly asking her where
and what to eat. Three months after it launched,
Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the
top five best food blogs, praising her writing as
“smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been
featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and
magazines in the U.S. and the world.

In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a
guest contributor to the Epicurious.com blog, and
Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes
restaurant reviews for SF Station.

Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook
reviews along with some interviews and current events.

Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer.
She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine.

She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.

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