This spin on classic chicken noodle soup is somewhat of an imagined amalgamation of my favorite Asian soups: the star anise-laced Hanoi beef noodle soup and Chinese wonton soup. The flavors bring both comfort and cold-fighting compounds to bring serious “ahhhh” to flu season. To serve, you'll put paper-thin slices in bowls and top with the flavorful broth. The piping-hot broth will cook the chicken by the time it reaches the table.
2 unpeeled onions, halved and studded with 3 cloves apiece
5 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
7 pounds raw beef bones
1 cooked chicken carcass (or 1 whole raw chicken)
6 quarts cold water
2 carrots, chopped into 3 pieces each
8 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 (1-inch) pieces of ginger, bruised with the heel of your knife
5 dried Asian red chiles
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup fish sauce
6 ounces rice vermicelli, cooked 3 minutes in boiling water and drained
2 chicken breast halves, cut into paper thin slices across the grain (freeze for 20 minutes to make slicing easier)
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
Char the onions and garlic in a large stockpot over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, until well-colored but not burnt. Add the beef bones, chicken carcasses and water, and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam, gray crud and fat as they rise to the surface. Boil for 45 minutes to an hour, or until there isn't much foam being produced any longer.
Add carrots, star anise, cinnamon, ginger, chiles and salt. Lower heat so the broth gurgles a few times each second. Let the broth cook at this low heat overnight or for at least 8 hours.
Skim broth one more time and strain through a fine mesh strainer (a Chinois or “China cap”) or a colander lined with cheesecloth. Stir in fish sauce. Rinse out the pot, return the broth to the pot, and bring back to a boil before serving.
To serve, divide vermicelli, chicken breast, cilantro and green onion between 8 large bowls. Ladle broth into each and finish with a squeeze of lime.