This Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup recipe is inspired by Pho Ga. It's made with chicken thighs, spices, and carrots cooked in savory broth.
This recipe is a version of Pho - It is not the authentic variety that you would find in a Vietnamese restaurant or if you were to visit the country. This is basically a Vietnamese Chicken Soup inspired by Pho Ga.
If you've ever eaten pho you know it's one of the tastiest soups on earth. It is basically the pinnacle of the soup world. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that's full of meat, herbs, spices, and broth. It's ALL about the broth.
Pho is made with beef - Beef bones and oxtail are stewed for many hours to create a silky aromatic broth that basically melts in your mouth. Cooking the meat and bones for that long helps to extract everything that's good in this world. The result is a luxurious broth to which all kinds of other stuff is added.
This version is a good old chicken noodle soup recipe with some Vietnamese flair. I love to prepare this when I want to switch up my chicken soup routine.
It's got everything that's wonderful and comforting about the beloved classic like tender chicken, hearty veggies, and noodles but it's also got fragrant spices and other goodies that help to dress it up a bit.
- What Is Pho Ga?
- What Spices Are Used To Make Pho Ga?
- Ingredients For Vietnamese Inspired Chicken Soup
- How To Make Pho Ga Chicken Soup
- Add Vegetables To The Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup
- How Long Does Chicken Soup Take To Cook?
- What To Serve With Chicken Noodle Soup
- How Long Does This Soup Last In The Fridge?
- Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup
What Is Pho Ga?
Pho Ga is a variation of Pho - It's prepared with chicken instead of beef. The same basic concept still applies but I have simplified it here for weeknight home cooking purposes.
I would love to spend hours boiling beef bones and creating a broth so good that I want to swim in it but I don't have that kind of time. And I'm guessing you don't either.
This recipe is a nice shortcut version that helps tide me over until the next time I'm able to visit a Vietnamese restaurant.
What Spices Are Used To Make Pho Ga?
There are a few quintessential spices that give Pho its characteristic aromatic flavor. Those spices are Vietnamese cinnamon, coriander, and star anise.
Vietnamese cinnamon (also known as Saigon cinnamon) is like regular cinnamon but the flavor is a bit brighter. It has notes of citrus in addition to being a bit sweeter and more spicy. You can find it at your local food coop or on Amazon.
Coriander are the seeds of a cilantro plant. Coriander is considered a spice whereas cilantro is an herb. The flavor of coriander is bright, citrus-y, and floral.
Star Anise is a spice made from the fruit of the Chinese evergreen tree. It has a pungent, licorice flavor and is considered a warming spice.
How To Toast The Spices
The first step is to toast the spices. Toasting the spices releases the oils and makes them more fragrant. I have a small cast iron skillet that I reserve for toasting nuts and spices but any small pan will do.
- Place ½ tsp. coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle and crush them before toasting.
- Heat the pan to medium-low. Add ½ tsp. coriander seed, ¼ - ½ tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon, and 3-4 star anise pods in the pan.
- Toast the spices for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Keep an eye on the so they do not burn.
- Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Ingredients For Vietnamese Inspired Chicken Soup
Here's everything you'll need to make it:
- 6 cloves Garlic
- 1 Onion (any color)
- 1 inch Ginger Root
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper (optional)
- 4 - 5 large Carrots
- ¼ - ½ tsp. Vietnamese Cinnamon (can use regular cinnamon if necessary)
- ½ tsp. Coriander Seeds
- 3-4 Star Anise Pods
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 5 cups Low-Sodium Gluten Free Chicken Broth (or regular chicken broth if not GF)
- 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
- Juice of 1 Lime
- ½ tsp. Kosher Salt and Pepper
- Package Vermicelli Rice Noodles
- Toppings for soup (Thai Basil, Cilantro, Sriracha, Hoisin Sauce, Scallions, extra limes) (optional)
The next step is to chop all of the aromatics that are going to give the soup so much flavor.
- Mince 6 cloves of garlic and 1 onion (any color).
- Peel a 1-inch portion of ginger root.
- Dice 1 jalapeno pepper if using (remove seeds for less heat). The jalapeno is completely optional - if you do not like spice simply omit.
- Cut 4 - 5 large carrots into slices.
It should be noted that carrots are not a traditional ingredient in Pho Ga. They are in here simply because I like carrots in my chicken soup.
How To Make Pho Ga Chicken Soup
Now it's time for the chicken. I love to use a cast iron Dutch oven to make soups. They distribute heat evenly and produce a good batch of soup every time.
- Heat a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed soup pan to medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil.
- Once the oil is heated (the meat should sizzle as it hits the pan) place the chicken thighs in the pan and sear for 3-4 minutes per side. Sprinkle each side with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- You will get a nice sear on both sides and lock in that delicious flavor. Once seared, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Do not discard the brown bits and oil in the pan.
Do you love chicken dishes? Be sure to check out these recipes!
- Crockpot Tortilla Soup
- Slow Cooker Chicken Potato Soup
- Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
- Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad
- Sheet Pan Mediterranean Chicken and Potatoes
- Sesame Ground Chicken Rice Bowls
- Chicken Kofta Kebabs
Add Vegetables To The Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup
Once the chicken is seared its time to add the veggies to the Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup.
- Add the minced garlic, onions, and jalapeno (if using). Grate the ginger in the pan using a microplane or small grater. Saute the aromatic for 5 minutes or so, stirring often.
- Add the chopped carrots along with a pinch of salt and pepper and saute for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add 5 cups of chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling return the chicken to the pan along with the toasted spices.
- Reduce to a low boil, cover, and cook the soup on a medium/low boil for 20-25 minutes.
How Long Does Chicken Soup Take To Cook?
- Allow the soup to cook on a low boil until the carrots are easily pierced with a knife or fork and the chicken has fully cooked.
- After the chicken is cooked remove it from the pan and place on a cutting board. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle shred it with a couple of forks and return it to the pan.
- The last step is to add 2 Tbsp. of fish sauce and the juice of 1 lime. It might seem strange to add fish sauce to a chicken noodle soup but it's the thing that gives the soup its characteristic 'funk'.
- If you added jalapeno and find it to be too spicy you can add some sugar to balance it out.
What To Serve With Chicken Noodle Soup
- You can't eat pho ga without noodles so prepare a package of vermicelli rice noodles according to package instructions and drain. Set the noodles aside until it's time to serve.
Be sure to remove the star anise at this point! Star anise is pretty but it is not edible. Make sure to remove and discard before serving.
If you were to visit a Vietnamese restaurant a soup like this is served with lots of garnishes. They usually include bean sprouts, fresh herbs, and limes.
Other topping ideas include Sriracha hot sauce, gluten free Hoisin sauce, Thai basil, cilantro, or scallions. You can customize it any way you like!
How Long Does This Soup Last In The Fridge?
Any leftovers should last 3-4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Be sure to allow the soup to cool completely before transferring to the fridge for storage.
It's best to store the noodles and soup separately, so that the noodles don't become mushy in the broth and to combine them right before serving.
Place some of the rice noodles in a soup bowl and ladle the soup on top of the noodles. Make sure you plenty of chicken, carrots, and broth.
Add your favorite toppings and serve.
Chicken soup is delicious in all its forms - There is nothing better than a big bowl of traditional chicken noodle soup but once in a while it's fun to switch things up a bit!
If you're looking for more hearty dishes to warm you up this winter be sure to check out these ones:
- Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
- Classic Hearty Beef Stew
- Turkey Soup
- Turkey Stew
- Red Wine Pot Roast
- Instant Pot Pot Roast
- Hearty Lentil Soup
- Instant Pot Lentil Soup
If you prefer a more traditional chicken soup, check out this Chicken Noodle Soup!
Looking For More Chicken Soup Recipes? Don't Miss These!
Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 onion any color
- 1 inch ginger root
- 1 jalapeno pepper (seeds removed for less heat) optional
- ¼ - ½ tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon depending on how strong you like it
- ½ tsp. coriander seeds Crush seeds with mortar and pestle
- 3-4 star anise pods
- 4 - 5 large carrots
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. gluten free fish sauce or any fish sauce if not gluten free
- 1 lime juice only
- 1 package vermicelli rice noodles
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- Toppings such as Thai Basil, Cilantro, Sriracha, Limes optional
Toast The Spices:
- Heat a small pan to medium low and add ½ tsp. crushed coriander seeds, 3-4 star anise pods, and ¼ - ½ tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon. Toast for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Remove pan from heat.
- Mince 6 cloves of garlic and 1 onion (any color). Dice 1 jalapeno (optional) and remove seeds for less heat. Peel a 1-inch portion of ginger root.
- Cut 4-5 large carrots into slices.
Sear The Chicken:
- Heat a cast iron Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pan to medium-high and add 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Once heated, add chicken thighs and sear for 3-4 minutes per side. Season each side with generous pinch of salt and pepper. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Add The Vegetables:
- Add the minced garlic, onions, and jalapeno (if using). Grate the ginger into the pan using a microplane or small grater. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add carrots to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add 5 cups of chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Once the soup has reached a boil add the chicken back to the pan along with the toasted spices.
- Reduce the heat to a low boil, cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the carrots are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a cutting board. Once it is cool enough to handle shred it with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the pan along with 2 Tbsp. gluten free fish sauce (or any brand of fish sauce if not gluten free) and the juice of 1 lime.
- Prepare 1 package of vermicelli rice noodles according to package instructions. Drain.
- Remove and discard the star anise before serving!
- To Serve: Place a portion of cooked noodles in bowl. Ladle soup on top of noodles. Garnish with favorite toppings.
- Topping ideas: Gluten Free Hoisin sauce, Sriracha sauce, fresh limes, scallions, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, Thai basil