Pho Without the Fuss

chicken pho

Streamlined Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)

Sometimes it's nice to step back from our typical hum-drum american soup staples, like chicken noodle, and treat our palate to something new. That is why I love pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of clear broth, rice noodles, a handful of herbs and spices, primarily served with beef or chicken. The problem is authentic pho recipes require you to create a flavorful rich bone broth that takes several hours to make. I have done it this method and have labored in my kitchen all day creating authentic, beautifully rich, pure chicken and beef broths. As much as I pride myself on knowing my way around the kitchen and have a deep love for food and cooking it is often times not worth the effort when a recipe become too involved. My cooking philosophy is that it is important to find a balance between homemade methods/fresh ingredients and practicality when executing the dish. I have found that streamlining the process, in this case, taste just as great if you know what you are doing! 

Pho broth is excellent in large batches in which you can freeze and use at a later date. That is why I love it as a postpartum freezer meal or an easy meal to prepare when you looking to get back into cooking after having a baby.

Why It Works:

To produce the flavor and complexity needed to make the base for our broth we used ground turkey to add more flavor and depth than just sticking with trusty chicken broth from the carton. In addition to creating the real deal without the fuss we add ginger, fish sauce, water, and spice combinations of star anise, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorn, and sugar. It's all the familiarity and comfort of a chicken broth you're probably used to with new elements of complex spice notes that will have you ladling your bowl for a second helping. 


  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 onions, quartered through root end
  • 12 cups (96 oz) reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 (4 inch) piece of ginger *see note
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 star anise pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorn
  • Salt
  • 14-16 ounces (1/8 inch wide) rice noodles *see note


  • Fresh cilantro
  • Scallions, sliced thin
  • Bean sprouts
  • Fresh Thai or Italian basil
  • Lime wedges
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha sauce


pho ingredients
  1. Ginger does not need peeled. Just chop into large chunks and toss in the broth
  2. The rice noodles you are looking for are often labeled "small." I advise that you stay away from Thai Kitchen Stir-Fry Rice Noodles because they are too thick and don't adequately soak up the broth. If they are your only option you CAN use them but they will require you to soak them longer and cook them longer and MUST supervise and test noodles often.


1. Break ground chicken or turkey into 1-inch chunks and put in a stock pot or Dutch oven (must be able to hold at least 6 quarts). Place 6 onion quarters in the pot with ground meat. You can thinly slice the remaining 2 quarters to serve for garnish. Add 2 chicken breasts, all broth, 2 cups water, fish sauce, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, star anise, cloves, 2 teaspoon salt, and peppercorn to pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

2. Take out chicken breast and set aside to cool. Pour broth through colander into a large bowl and discard all solids. Next, it is important get your broth as pure and clear as possible! Strain broth again now using a fine mesh strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth. You are looking for 11 cups of broth so add water if needed. Return clear broth after cleaning out your pot. Now is the time to taste your broth and add extra fish sauce and/or sugar to your liking (broth should taste over-seasoned). I always add a little extra sugar at this point. Cover and keep warm over low heat. Please always taste your food as you cook! It will make you a million-times better home cook.

3. Rinse off the chicken breast from any impurities from the broth and start to pull chicken apart with your hands or fork. I choose to return the broken pieces of chicken back to the broth for convenience, though you can keep the chicken separate until serving if you wish. Just make sure you do not dry out your chicken please.

4. Place rice noodles in large bowl and cover with hot tap water and soak until they are pliable, about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil over high. Add drained noodles and cook until almost tender, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain noodles and divide among individual bowls. Run remainder noodles under cold water to stop cooking process and consider adding a couple drops of sesame oil to prevent sticking. You can run noodles under water to break them up when taking them out for leftovers.

5. If you need to warm up your broth more turn up the heat to high for a minute or two and then ladle the broth/chicken over the noodles. Add bean sprouts and onion slices if desired. Sprinkle with cilantro and a mint. Other garish include lime wedges, hoisin, Sriracha, and extra fish sauce. Enjoy!

Recipe was inspired and adapted from America's Test Kitchen recipe on Vietnamese Beef Pho.