Vietnamese Pho Ga, or Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup, is easily one of my favorite soups.
There are so many ways to season this soup, and there are even more ways to garnish it. It's a truly customizable dish with layers and layers of flavor and broth that is to-die-for.
The broth for Vietnamese pho ga is sometimes made with a whole chicken to get the added flavor from the fat and bones. But, in the essence of time, I opted to use chicken breasts which still achieves a pretty kicka** flavor for much less time in the kitchen.
The flavor is largely attributed to the bevy of spices that are used. Peppercorns, cardamom, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, and star anise – spices that are often bundled into Chinese five-spice. This is the one and only recipe that I have ever used star anise for. It has a very unique smell which you can catch a nice hint of once the broth gets to a good simmer.
One thing I love about this dish is that it is super healthy. There isn't a single thing in this recipe that is unhealthy, as a matter of fact… especially if you opt out of putting any added hoisin or hot sauce as a small topping. I don't opt out of that though, because it adds a nice little kick to an already flavorful bite.
If you are looking for a family-friendly meal or something that works well for a group with different tastes, this is perfect because it follows the build-your-own concept.
With the exception of the noodles and chicken, which are placed on the bottom of the bowl before filling with broth, all of the other ingredients are added just before serving. Because the chicken may have cooled after shredding, the broth will save you from needing to reheat it. The chicken is super tender and more flavorful than a simple poach because it is actually cooked in the broth.
Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you! There's a reason this soup tastes so good!
If you are looking for other soup recipes, try my Easy Crock-pot Chicken Enchilada Soup!
Vietnamese Pho Ga – Chicken Noodle Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 shallots, sliced thin
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3lbs chicken breast
64oz chicken stock
1 tbsp fish sauce
2-inches ginger, crushed
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
4 whole scallions (green onions)
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
5 star anise
1 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4.5oz thin rice noodles (vermicelli)
Handful of bean sprouts
1 large carrot, shredded
3 scallions (green onions), sliced
2 jalapenos, sliced thin
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 tbsp crispy fried shallots (optional)
1 red chili, sliced thin (optional)
Hot sauce (optional)
- Mince garlic and cut shallots into thin slices.
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan at medium temperature. Cook garlic and shallots until golden and caramelized, about 5-6 minutes.
- Combine caramelized garlic and shallots, chicken breast, chicken stock, fish sauce, ginger, lemongrass, whole scallions, coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, star anise, sugar and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 12-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Cover and set aside.
- While broth is cooking, prepare the garnishes: shred the carrot, slice the scallions and jalapenos, cut the lime into wedges, and pluck the cilantro.
- Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions, being careful not to overcook. Because they are so thin, they usually only need to be cooked for about 3 minutes. Rinse under cold water upon completion to prevent sticking.
- Place a colander in a large bowl and strain the broth. Set the clean broth aside and separate the chicken from the spices and vegetables (dispose of these, and rinse the chicken if necessary). Shred the chicken using two forks and set aside.
- Return the clean broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes before serving. Adjust taste as needed.
- Divide noodles and shredded chicken between each soup bowl.
- Pour hot broth over noodles and chicken, and top with bean sprouts, carrots, scallions, jalapenos , cilantro, basil and optional garnishes if using.
- Squeeze lime wedge over soup and add hot sauce and/or hoisin if using.