Vietnamese-style Duck Soup

November 10, 2016

We have soup for dinner at least one night a week - in the summer it's chilled, garden fresh soups, in the winter it's hot and hearty, the bowl filled with anything comforting. I always have containers of homemade broth - fish broth, beef broth, chicken broth - at the ready in the freezer. The broths are great for sipping like tea (great for keeping those pesky colds at bay!) as well as for quick meals like soups, stews, pot pies, and such. Occasionally we purchase a whole duck from a local farmer and the duck broth we make from the bones is phenomenal! Whenever you make any broth roast the bones first along with the mirepoix (carrots, celery, onions) to deepen the flavors, then add to water and simmer on low (never let it boil or the bones will make your broth cloudy) overnight, even two nights.

This soup recipe is so versatile and easy you can swap out the meat for any preferred type. We've prepared this with chicken, turkey (especially after Thanksgiving), flank steak, and seafood (try a firm white fish and/or some big fat wild shrimp. Stay away from that unhealthy Asian farmed stuff). What I love about this soup is that it's filled with a variety of fresh herbs - Thai basil (you can use regular if you can't find Thai), mint, cilantro - along with fresh ginger, garlic, limes, and fish sauce for depth of flavor. We used our homemade duck broth for this soup but you can use store bought duck or chicken broth as well. When it all comes together it truly is a most satisfying meal. I would even call it an Asian Penicillin soup for it's perfect when you're feeling under the weather. I hope you enjoy!

Vietnamese-style Duck Soup
Serves 4

For the duck:
2 duck breasts, roasted and thinly sliced at an angle
5-spice powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the soup:
8 cups duck or chicken broth
1 onion, peeled, halved and cut into thin slices from root to root (this creates pretty, curved slices)
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced  
2-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced into matchsticks
2 tablespoons fish sauce, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 package rice vermicelli noodles
Large bunch each of Thai basil, cilantro, and mint
Limes wedges
Optional: Sriracha chili sauce and/or hoisin sauce

For the duck breasts, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rub the breasts on both sides with 5-spice powder along with a good pinch of salt. Heat vegetable oil over medium heat in an oven-proof skillet. When the oil is hot, add the breasts, skin side down. Sear for 5-6 minutes, or until the skin is nicely browned and begins to lift from the pan. Flip the duck breast over and place the pan in the oven. Roast the breasts for 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the duck breasts to rest 2 to 3 minutes before slicing. Thinly slice each breast on the bias.

While the breasts are cooking, prepare the soup. Pour duck stock into a large pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cover the pot; simmer for about 30 minutes and adjust fish sauce and sugar if necessary.

In a separate pot, bring water to a boil. Add vermicelli noodles and cook until tender; about 3-5 minutes. Drain and divide among four bowls. Ladle in soup and garnish each bowl with herbs and sliced duck breast. Serve immediately with lime wedges