1 (3-lb) whole chicken
12 cups cold water
1 (6-oz) slice boneless ham (1/3 inch thick) such as Smithfield ham or baked
1 bunch scallions
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro stems, roots discarded
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 oz dried rice noodles
3 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce (1/4 head)
Cover chicken with 12 cups water in a 6- to 8-quart pot.
Cut off one third of ham (trim if necessary) and cut into 1/3-inch dice, then
chill. Add remaining two thirds ham to pot.
Trim scallions, then cut 1 scallion
into thin slices and reserve. Cut remaining scallions crosswise into thirds and
add to pot along with ginger, garlic, and cilantro stems.
Cook chicken, uncovered, at a bare
simmer 3 hours (do not let boil), skimming foam as necessary. (Do not stir, or
stock will be cloudy.)
Transfer chicken with tongs to a
cutting board, reserving stock. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove
breast meat and shred into 3-inch-long strips, discarding skin. Chill strips and
reserve remaining chicken for another use. Pour stock through a fine-mesh sieve
into a large bowl, discarding solids and skimming off fat (see cooks' note,
Bring 6 cups stock with salt to a
While stock is coming to a simmer,
bring about 2 quarts water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan. Soak noodles in a
bowl of very hot water until softened, about 10 minutes, then drain in a
colander. Add noodles to boiling water and cook 1 minute, then add lettuce and
cook 30 seconds. Drain in a colander.
Using tongs, divide noodles and
lettuce among 6 deep bowls, forming small nests, then top with shredded chicken
and diced ham. Ladle 1 cup hot broth into each bowl and sprinkle with sliced
To skim even more fat from stock
(for a soup with less than 4 grams fat), cool, uncovered, then chill, covered,
until fat solidifies, about 6 hours.
Makes 6 first-course servings.