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A quick and easy Vietnamese-style chicken noodle soup recipe with aromatic spices, rice noodles and chunks of tender chicken — have takeout at home!
Traditional pho ga, or Vietnamese chicken noodle soup, is a favorite comfort food for my family. We love the light, tasty chicken broth that’s full of sweet and hot spices, tender chunks of chicken and slurp-able rice noodles.
But when we can’t visit our favorite restaurants specializing in pho ga and other Southeast Asian dishes, making this soup delivers all the aromatic fresh flavors we crave. While my take on pho ga isn’t authentic by any means, it’s an easy dish inspired by its comforting flavor profile and combination of textures.
Using spice for cooking
When I cook, I always rely on my pantry of spices — I even wrote a guide to making homemade spice blends.
Once you get get comfortable with using different spices, you’ll find it’s a journey to delicious food.
It doesn’t take much work to transform your everyday cooking into something really special just by using some key ingredients.
The base of this fantastic soup couldn’t be simpler. First, make an infused chicken broth with garlic, ginger, shallot and a trio of spices and then quickly simmer boneless chicken in it. Here’s what you need:
Ingredients in chicken pho
- Chicken broth: Homemade chicken broth or prepared low-sodium recommended, since the other ingredients are already salty.
- Fish sauce
- Tamari sauce
- Fresh ginger
- Fresh garlic
- Hot green chili (serrano or jalapeno)
- Ground cinnamon: Adds rich, spicy-sweet flavor typical in Southeast Asian cooking.
- Whole coves: Cloves have a beautiful warm, sweet scent that adds an appealing background to the broth.
- Cayenne pepper: Just a small amount of this ground hot chili powder livens up the dish with a small amount of heat.
Pour the flavorful broth over cooked rice noodles, crunchy raw carrots, baby bok choy, and fresh herbs and it’s ready to serve.
Southeast Asian-Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 2-inch knob fresh ginger, sliced into thin coins
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 serrano or small jalapeno chili , chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon whole cloves
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 8-ounce package pad Thai rice noodles
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 cups matchstick-sliced carrots
- 2 heads baby bok choy, trimmed and sliced
- 3 green onions (including green tops), sliced
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, picked off the stem
- ½ cup fresh mint or basil leaves
Make the broth
- Put the oil in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, ginger, garlic and chili pepper and cook 3-5 minutes, or until softened. Add the cinnamon, cloves and cayenne and stir into the oil for 30 seconds.
- Add the broth, fish sauce and tamari and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat to medium and gently simmer the broth for 15 minutes. Pour through a mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl, then return the broth to the saucepan.
Make the noodle bowl
- Cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
- Add the chicken to the strained broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, 10-12 minutes.
- Put equal portions of the rice noodles, carrots, bok choy, green onions and herbs in each of four bowls. Ladle the chicken broth over each bowl and serve.