4 c water
1/2 c sliced shallots
1/4 c minced peeled fresh ginger
5 t minced garlic -- (about 2 large cloves)
1 T Thai fish sauce - nouc mam
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
2 15.75 oz cans chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 lb uncooked rice sticks or vermicelli -- (rice flour noodles)
1 c fresh bean sprouts
2 T thinly sliced green onions
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 T thinly sliced fresh basil
2 T thinly sliced fresh mint
4 lime wedges
chopped hot red or Thai chile -- optional
fish sauce -- optional
chili oil -- optional

Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large Dutch oven, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until the chicken is done.

Remove chicken from pan; cool slightly. Cut into bite-size pieces.

Cook rice sticks in boiling water 5 minutes; drain.

Divide chicken and noodles evenly among 4 large bowls. Ladle 2 cups soup into each bowl. Top each serving with 1/4 cup sprouts and 1 1/2 teaspoons each of onions, cilantro, basil, and mint.

Serve with lime wedges; garnish with chopped chile, nouc mam or chili oil, if desired.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes