Traditional recipes

Quick Chicken Pho

Quick Chicken Pho

Featured in 13 Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals with Chicken Broth and 12 Meals to Make with Rotisserie Chicken

A few years ago, I’d never even heard of pho, let alone tasted it. Now, giant bowls of this traditional Vietnamese noodle soup are a regular meal in our house.

There are three things I can thank for this change: 1) Moving to a part of the country where pho restaurants are as common as pizza joints. 2) Several months of gluten-free eating last year due to a health issue. 3) Meeting and becoming friends with Vietnamese cooking expert Andrea Nguyen.

Andrea has now published a new book entirely devoted to — what else?! — pho, and I’d like to share with you her recipe for Quick Chicken Pho.

This recipe is a great introduction to pho if you’ve never had it before. And for pho addicts like myself, it’s a good one to have around when a pho-craving strikes.

Video! How to Make Quick Chicken Pho

Get the book! The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen

There are so many things to love about Andrea’s new cookbook, and not just the recipes! In Andrea’s own words when I spoke with her about it, “This cookbook contains 99% of what I know about pho. And the other 1% isn’t all that interesting.”

Again and again, Andrea underscores the idea that pho is not a fussy or difficult dish to make at home. There are no laborious prep requirements or unfamiliar techniques to master. Really, if you can boil water, you can make pho.

This is because, with pho, it’s really all about the broth. The noodles and bits of tender meat definitely have curb appeal and make the soup into a substantive meal, but all the real flavor and allure of pho comes from a slow-simmered broth.

Making a good pho broth will feel familiar to anyone who has ever made their own chicken stock or beef stock. The process is almost exactly the same, except for the addition of a few uniquely Vietnamese ingredients like star anise, cinnamon, ginger, soy sauce, and fish sauce. These extra ingredients give pho its seductive personality and trademark balance of sweet, salty, and savory flavors.

Of all these ingredients, fish sauce is likely to be the least familiar to most of us. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a sauce made from fermented fish. It has an intense flavor and super-pungent aroma, like concentrated anchovies.

You might be dubious about adding this to your food, but give it a chance! Fish sauce adds a deep (and surprisingly non-fishy) flavor to foods. Once added, it melts into the background. You won’t necessarily be able to pick it out of the crowd, but you’d miss it if it weren’t there.

My favorite brand is Red Boat Fish Sauce, but just about any brand that you find is sure to get the job done. I’ve started seeing bottles of fish sauce carried in the Asian ingredients section of major grocery stores in the past few years, but you can also order it online or seek it out at an Asian grocery store.

Once the broth is simmering, all the real work is done! Assembling your bowl of pho is a matter of softening some rice noodles, adding some shredded chicken or beef (which is often cooked right in the simmering broth), and then ladling the steaming hot broth over top.

Cool pho fact: If you add thinly-sliced steak to your pho, the hot broth actually does the job of cooking the meat!

Garnish your bowl with fresh bean sprouts, sprigs of mint, cilantro leaves, and a lime wedge, and chow down. Slurping is totally encouraged.

  • Looking for a beef pho recipe? Easy Wok-Kissed Beef Pho

This particular recipe for Quick Chicken Pho takes a few shortcuts to save you some time, but still makes a very respectable bowl of pho.

Instead of making the broth from scratch, pick up a carton of store-bought broth and give it a quick simmer with some herbs and spices to boost the flavor. A chicken breast or a few thighs cooked in the broth adds even more flavor and gives you with enough shredded meat for your dinner.

To avoid ending up with an overly-concentrated broth after simmering, Andrea has you add some water to the broth. I felt that this also helped the broth hit the balanced flavor and lightness in a true pho broth.

The whole meal is ready in about a half an hour, which means a bowl of pho is totally doable on a busy weeknight.

Once you’ve mastered this quick pho, Andrea has plenty of other recipes for you to try next, including a classic slow-cooked Chicken Pho made with a whole chicken. I also tried her recipe for Pressure Cooker Beef Pho and can honestly say that it was one of the best bowls of pho I’ve ever had in my life — homemade or at a restaurant. That recipe gets a giant thumbs up!

I’m also excited to try some of the more offbeat recipes from Andrea’s book, like the Wok-Kissed Beef Pho with stir-fried beef and her Pho Fried Rice.

There are so many variations of pho in this book that there’s sure to be a recipe that suits every person’s tastes, time, and skill. With each one, Andrea takes the time and effort to walk us through every step and possible pitfall, helping us to craft the perfect bowl of pho.

Three cheers to Andrea for this fun new addition to our cookbook shelves!

Get the book! The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen

Quick Chicken Pho Recipe

From Andrea:

"Great for pho beginners, this recipe is also terrific for cooks in a hurry. It involves less than 45 minutes, during which you’ll doctor up store-bought broth so it says, “I’m pho-ish.”

The keys to this streamlined approach include toasting spices and dry sautéing the ginger and green onion, which help to extract flavor fast. Poaching the chicken in the broth adds savory depth. You’ll practice some fundamental pho techniques that you can apply elsewhere, too. Choose a broth that tastes like chicken, such as Swanson brand, which is less fussed up and easy to manipulate. You need two 14.5-ounce (411 g) cans or one 32-ounce (907 ml) carton."

Reprinted with permission from The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Ingredients

  • 3/4-inch (2 cm) section ginger
  • 2 medium-large green onions
  • 1 very small (.5 oz | 15 g) bunch cilantro sprigs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 whole clove
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups (840 ml to 1 l) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups (480 ml) water
  • 6 to 8 ounces (180 to 225 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
  • About 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 ounces (150 g) dried narrow flat rice noodles
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • About 1/2 teaspoon organic sugar, or 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
  • Pepper (optional)
  • Optional extras: Bean sprouts, mint sprigs, Thai basil, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, thinly-sliced chili peppers

Method

1 Prepare the broth ingredients: Peel then slice the ginger into 4 or 5 coins. Smack with the flat side of a knife or meat mallet; set aside. Thinly slice the green parts of the green onion to yield 2 to 3 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Cut the leftover sections into pinkie-finger lengths, bruise, then add to the ginger.

Coarsely chop the leafy tops of the cilantro to yield 2 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Set the remaining cilantro sprigs aside.

2 Toast the broth ingredients: In a 3- to 4-quart (3 to 4 l) pot, toast the coriander seeds and clove over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger and green onion sections. Stir for about 30 seconds, until aromatic.

3 Add the broth and bring to a simmer: Slide the pot off heat, wait 15 seconds or so to briefly cool, then pour in the broth.

Return the pot to the burner, then add the water, cilantro sprigs, chicken, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to gently simmer.

4 Remove the chicken from the broth once cooked: After 5 to 10 minutes of simmering, the chicken should be firm and cooked through (press on it and it should slightly yield).

5 Continue to simmer the broth without the chicken for another 15 to 20 minutes (for a total of 30 minutes simmering time).

6 Shred the chicken: Transfer the chicken to a bowl, flush with cold water to arrest the cooking, then drain. Let cool, then cut or shred into bite-size pieces. Cover loosely to prevent drying.

[Emma's note: If the chicken isn't quite cooked through when you begin to shred it, just split it into a few pieces and put it back in the broth for another few minutes until cooked through. The split pieces will quickly cook through.]

7 Soak the rice noodles in hot water until pliable and opaque. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

8 Strain the broth: When the broth is done, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer positioned over a 2-quart (2-liter) pot; line the strainer with muslin for superclear broth. Discard the solids. You should have about 4 cups.

Season with fish sauce and sugar (or maple syrup), if needed, to create a strong savory-sweet note.

9 Finish the pho: Bring the strained broth to a boil over high heat. Put the noodles in a noodle strainer or mesh sieve and dunk in the hot broth to heat and soften, 5 to 60 seconds. Lift the noodles from the pot and divide between the 2 bowls. [Emma's note: I didn't find it necessary to soften my noodles any further. I just added them to the bowls and poured the hot broth over top. However, dunking them in the broth would make them more flavorful!]

Lower the heat to keep the broth hot while you arrange the chicken on top of the noodles and garnish with the chopped green onion, cilantro, and a sprinkling of pepper. Taste and adjust the broth’s saltiness one last time. Return the broth to a boil and ladle into the bowls. Enjoy with any extras, if you like.

[Emma's note: I just left the broth at a low simmer during this last step, rather than bringing it to a boil again. I thought it was plenty hot!]

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Chicken Pho Recipe (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

Chicken Pho is a refreshing and fragrant Vietnamese chicken noodle soup cooked in a delicious infused broth, topped by an abundance of fresh herbs. Pho makes a hearty, simple, and healthy meal that is full of vibrant Vietnamese flavours.

Pho which is pronounced "Fuh" not "Fo" is a Vietnamese Noodle Soup that is a staple in Vietnamese Cuisine and is great for any season. This fragrant soup is nourishing in cooler months but also refreshing to enjoy when the weather is warm. Pho is made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà).

We spent two months in Vietnam a couple of years ago and enjoyed a bowl of Pho most days - usually for breakfast but often again in the evening. We were in Vietnam during the height of summer (it was hot - very hot!) so it was a lovely refreshing meal that would leave you feeling very hydrated in the hot and humid weather.

You never need to go far to find a street stall or sidewalk cafe selling Pho in Vietnam they are often packed early morning with people sitting at plastic tables and chairs enjoying a Pho before work.

In Vietnam, Pho can vary region by region, particularly between the north and the south. I loved the variety when we were traveling as often no two dish tasted the same! You can add extra seasoning, herbs, or chili as you desire making chicken Pho very adaptable to most taste-buds!

We traveled around Vietnam with our then 18-month-old, and to be honest, prior to our trip I would not have envisaged him enjoying a noodle soup! However. he loved it back then and still enjoys it now!

We omitted the herbs on top and he would happily eat (and play) with the noodles then would tip the bowl back and enjoy the tasty broth. Maybe not the best table etiquette but not bad for a little one in a foreign environment with different food!


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Chicken Pho: Recipe Instructions

Bring a pot of water to a boil for your noodles. Also bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium pot, along with the ginger, red chilies, fish sauce, and sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Sear the chicken, and set aside.

While that’s happening, boil the pho noodles according to package instructions. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls.

Divide the broth and the chicken amongst the bowls…

Squeeze over some lime juice, and add more fish sauce if desired.

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Recipe: Quick Chicken Pho

Chicken Pho

Quick Chicken Pho

This pho is ready in under 45 minutes, during which you’ll doctor a store-bought broth. Swanson brand is less fussed up than other broths and easy to manipulate. Stocked at many supermarkets, Annie Chun pad Thai rice noodles and Megachef fish sauce also work well here. The optional and delicious ginger sauce is for dipping the chicken into between spoonfuls of soup.

&mdashAdapted from “The Pho Cookbook” by Andrea Nguyen (Ten Speed Press, 2017)

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Cheater Pho (Asian Noodle Soup)

Pho is a super popular Vietnamese noodle dish. It’s also one of those amazing hangover foods that comes in particularly handy during your college days.

But pho typically takes hours and hours of simmering, which is simply too long for those busy weeknights. Now with this cheater version here, you’ll still have homemade pho, made from scratch of course, in 30 min or less.

And if rice noodles are difficult to find in your area, feel free to substitute any other kind of noodles here to your liking – ramen, udon, angel hair pasta, etc.

Quick dinners are meant to be exactly that. Quick and easy, not leaving you with crazy ingredients that you can’t find at your local grocery store.

So there you have it – this cheater pho is quick, comforting and just so darn easy.


Recipe Summary

  • 4 ounces dry Chinese egg noodles
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemon grass
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup chopped bok choy

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add noodles and return water to boil. Boil until soft, about 8 minutes. Drain and reserve noodles.

Bring chicken stock, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, and green onions to a boil in a large pot. Reduce to a simmer cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken, bean sprouts, and bok choy. Cook pho until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Divide the cooked noodles between 2 large bowls. Pour pho over noodles serve immediately.


30-Minute Easy Chicken Phở Ga Recipe

A big bowl of pho is the ultimate comfort food for me. Many of you have asked me to share my pho recipe, but I’ve hesitated. Not because I don’t want to share, but because it’s time consuming. As a busy mother, quick and easy recipes are the bulk of my cooking arsenal. I probably make pho once every couple of months because it takes time to develop the rich, flavorful broth.

Today, I’m excited to share my super easy chicken phở (or phở ga) recipe that can be made in around 30 minutes. I say approximately 30 minutes because I got interrupted by the kids a few times so it too me about 45 minutes from start to finish. Then again, 45 minutes for a weekday supper is pretty good, too. I usually prefer a beef pho, but chicken is healthier, budget friendly, and easier to make.

I grew up eating countless bowls filled with chewy rice noodles, piled with various meats and herbs and topped off with steaming, flavorful broth. Vietnamese pho is not confined to a particular meal of the day. It transcends any time limitations. I’d have it for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Heck, I’ve eaten a bowl as a late night snack.

The key to any good bowl of chicken pho is the broth. When I eat pho in restaurants, a greasy, too light broth is a deal breaker. While I try to make my chicken broth from scratch when I can, I keep chicken stock on hand for quick meals. I was excited to try out Perdue® Signature Chicken Stock, which can be found in the refrigerated section of your store. Just by looking at the broth through the packaging’s side window, I could tell it was a high quality broth. The broth was clear and smelled only of chicken. Even its list of ingredients is short. Even though rosemary was listed on the ingredients list I didn’t notice any rosemary fragrance or taste—which is great because there’s no rosemary in pho!

The second thing that makes a pho broth good is its aromatics. If you’ve seen my video about Vietnamese spices, you’ll know that the key aromatics for pho is star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fresh ginger, and onion. Thanks to those aromatics, my nose will recognize pho cooking anywhere! Most people don’t use star anise or cloves often—but they’re found in a lot of holiday baking so that jar you bought won’t go to waste.

TIP: Look for budget friendly spices at your international specialty grocery stores or the Mexican/Hispanic aisles of your regular grocery story. I got a jar of whole cloves for $1.29 and 20 ounces of cinnamon sticks for $3!

For this recipe I used bone-in skinless chicken breasts because I didn’t want a fatty or greasy broth. My mother often used thighs and legs for hers. I poached the chicken in water and all the aromatics except for the onion. (Full recipe instructions are at the end of the post.) This takes about 15-20 minutes.

While the chicken is poaching, I soak the noodles in hot water. Pho noodles are flat and come in different sizes (widths). If you can find fresh pho noodles, I highly recommend it. I always keep a couple of packs of dry noodles in my pantry. If you don’t have an Asian specialty store near you, use the noodles that are labeled for Pad Thai. Soaking is important because each bowl of pho is made fresh. Later, we’ll finish cooking them in some simmering water. This takes about 10-15 minutes or until the noodles are pliable, but nowhere near al dente. Go ahead and fill a small saucepan about halfway with cold water. Bring it to a simmer.

After the chicken breasts are cooked all the way through, remove from the pot and allow to cool. Now we’ll add 4 cups of Perdue Signature Chicken Broth to amp up the chicken flavor (about 2 packages). Add your peeled onion and return to a boil. Here’s where we add the fish sauce too.Once it comes to a boil, return it to a simmer while you finish prepping the other ingredients.

Wash one stalk of scallions (green onions). Cut off the white part and thinly slice the green part on the diagonal. Finely chop about ¼ cup of cilantro. Remove the chicken breast from the bone and slice thinly on the diagonal, about ¼” thick. Set aside.

Now it’s time to finish cooking the noodles. Drain the noodles. Grab a handful and add it to the simmering pot of water. Using chopsticks or tongs, stir and let it cook until the noodles are slightly past al dente, about 2-3 minutes. Don’t walk away because this goes fast! Remove the noodles but don’t drain the water. Just repeat for additional bowls of pho.

Assemble your bowl of pho in this manner: cooked noodles, top with sliced chicken breast, garnish with a generous pinch of sliced green onions and chopped cilantro. Now, carefully, spoon the simmering pho broth into the bowl until it covers everything. Serve immediately with bean sprouts, cilantro, and limes on the side. Don’t forget the hoisin sauce and Sriracha!


Cheap Ingredient Substitutes

As you hopefully know, this is a website to make dishes simple, easy and ideally cheap. With that said, you may want to substitute some things if you don’t want to spend a total of $25 on new bottles of coriander, cinnamon sticks, star anises, cloves, whole black pepper and fish sauce.

If you plan on making this dish often or can use the ingredients then definitely do the investment. However, if you don’t want to spend a ton on a few ingredients at this moment I am here to help. Ironically Whole Foods has little mini packs of these spices for $2 each vs. buying a whole bottle for $7+ (ironic because Whole Foods is never cheap).

Coriander substitute: You can substitute cumin, caraways seeds or fennel… or just don’t use it altogether. Again it helps the flavor and authenticity but isn’t a deal break to the average pho enjoyer. It is also a pain in the neck to get out of the broth if you don’t have a wire strainer.

Star anise and clove substitute: These bother are good replacements for each other. Thus, just buy one or the other if money is tight. Star anises can be used again in my Pumpkin Spice Eggnog Cocktail…

Fish Sauce substitute: If you don’t want to buy $5-8 fish sauce then you are in luck as you can substitute 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce! Another substitute is 1 tsp of soy sauce with a little squeeze of lime juice… or even combine all three!

Cinnamon stick: Similarly here, it is annoying to buy a bottle of sticks for $8 to use one… so you can skip this if you need to. However… you can use these again if you are making my Espresso Martini recipe or Bourbon Eggnog Recipe…

How Do You Pronounce Pho?

Well as you probably know the real way to pronounce it is “fuh” and it actually refers to the rice noodles and not the soup itself. However, no need to feel silly for calling it “pho” and don’t be those “you know that’s not how you pronounce it” people.


How to Make It

Put chicken in a medium pot. Add broth, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Bruise lemongrass by chopping it a few times with the back side of a knife (blade up). Bend the stalk in half and add to pot along with ginger and onion. As soon as broth boils, reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes more.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add rice noodles and cook, stirring to keep them from sticking, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Transfer chicken pieces from broth to a large plate to let cool. Add fish sauce and white pepper to broth, cover, and keep warm over lowest heat. Remove and discard lemongrass, ginger, and onion.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones. Thinly slice meat. Arrange cilantro, lime wedges, bean sprouts, and sliced jalapeño on a platter.

Divide noodles among four large soup bowls. Put some chicken into each bowl, then pour 2 cups hot broth into each bowl. Serve with platter of toppings.


Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho

Makes 4 servings. Recipe from Steamy Kitchen.

Ingredients:

SOUP BASE
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts chicken stock (store bought or homemade)
1 whole chicken breast
1/2 onion
1 3-inch chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce

ACCOMPANIMENTS
2 cups bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
fresh cilantro tops
1/2 cup shaved red onions
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
sriracha chili sauce
hoisin sauce
sliced fresh chili peppers

Directions:

To make the broth, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately remove from pan to avoid burning.

In a large pot, add spices, chicken stock, chicken breast, onion, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat, discarding the bone (if you used a bone-in breast).

Taste broth and add more fish sauce or sugar if necessary. Strain the broth and discard solids.

Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.

Ladle the broth into bowls. Divide the shredding chicken breast and noodles evenly into each bowl. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, red onion, and other accompaniments as desired and enjoy.

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