This may not be your mama's chicken soup, but both of these dishes can have that same magical soothing power. Pho is the name of the Vietnamese soup with rice noodles that gets its distinct flavor from star anise. Chinese hot and sour soup is a low-calorie burst of flavor. Why not try soups with a little different "kick" this fall?

This may not be your mama's chicken soup, but both of these dishes can have that same magical soothing power. Pho is the name of the Vietnamese soup with rice noodles that gets its distinct flavor from star anise. Chinese hot and sour soup is a low-calorie burst of flavor. Why not try soups with a little different "kick" this fall?

Ingredients
8 ounces rice noodles
8 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 pod star anise
3 whole cloves
1-inch-thick slice peeled fresh ginger
1 cup (2 ounces) sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 pound thin-sliced chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
3 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Basil leaves (for garnish)

Directions
1. Cook the noodles in plenty of lightly salted boiling water according to package directions (usually about 3 minutes). Drain and set aside.

2. Combine the broth, lime juice and fish sauce in a soup pot. Tie the star anise pod, cloves and ginger together in a piece of cheesecloth, or enclose them in a tea infuser, and place the packet in the pot. Boil the broth for 5 minutes; add the shiitakes, onion and chicken, and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer 6 to 7 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

3. Stir in the noodles, scallions and cilantro. Ladle into bowls and garnish each with a basil leaf.

Makes 4 servings.

LA TIMES-WASHINGTON POST