5 minutes (plus 2 hours simmering for the stock)
You can add whatever veg you like to this – beansprouts are traditional in the Vietnamese version, or you could use cabbage or chard instead of the Asian greens – and if you want to swap the rice noodles for egg noodles, go ahead: I’m not a pho purist! Keep a vat of chicken stock in your fridge or freezer (stock freezes very well in a plastic tub or freezer bag), some noodles in your storecupboard, and a stash of greens in the fridge, and you have (almost) instant comfort at your fingertips. Do give this superlative soup a try; it’s the perfect finale to your frugal chicken-cooking extravaganza!
First, make the stock. Put all the ingredients in a large lidded saucepan or stock pot, then cover with water. Bring to the boil then cover and turn down to a very slight simmer. Cook for 2 hours, then strain the stock into a large bowl or jug. You will need 1 litre for the soup; any left over can be kept in the fridge for a week, or frozen.
To make the soup, first cook the rice noodles for 2 minutes in simmering water, then drain, rinse in cold water and drain again. Divide between two large soup bowls. Divide the spring onions and coriander between the bowls too.
Bring 1 litre stock to the boil in a saucepan, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Add the greens and carrots and cook for a couple of minutes until tender but still with a little bite, then add the chicken just to warm through. Turn off the heat, squeeze in the lime juice and taste: it will probably need more fish sauce or salt, so add according to your preferences.
Pour the stock, chicken and vegetables over the noodles in the two bowls, and serve immediately, with more lime to squeeze over.