A hot steaming bowl of chicken pho is one of the most delicious and comforting meals to have when its cold outside. This quick version is made with store bought chicken stock which makes it super easy and suitable to make on weekdays. If you are looking for a pho recipe without the hard work and full of flavour, then this one is for you!
There was a time not so long ago that I was strongly against buying and using store bought chicken stock. Every single recipe I posted was always made from scratch. I even started to looked down upon recipes that used pre-made ingredients, like I was some sort of Michelin starred chef.
So how did I become such a food snob? How did I become THAT GUY? I believe it was because I had been a massive fan of cooking shows like Masterchef. Anytime a contestant did not make their dish from scratch… you could see the disappointment and disbelief on everybody’s faces. This is why I think I never bought or used them. Which looking back is quite silly because home cooking isn’t a reality TV cooking show!
Luckily, the advantage of being one half of a food blog is that the other half can tell when you’re being a douche bag. Especially when you are completely oblivious to it. So now I am completely opened to this whole new world of store bought stuff to make things quicker and easier for the modern day family. Because lets face it, most people don’t have the time or the energy to make everything from scratch.
Chicken Pho / Pho Ga
The first time I made this I had very low expectations. I genuinely thought that by using store bought chicken stock it would taste artificial and nothing like pho. WRONG! Served it to Steph and she smashed it. She clearly couldn’t tell the difference which was good and alarming at the same time.
This chicken pho recipe is based on being quick, easy and cheap. I have listed a fair few things as optional in this recipe because I realise that for some people, some of these ingredients are hard to get or maybe blowing out the budget. So feel free to include any or none of the optional ingredients.
If you are interested in making the chicken pho stock from scratch, the recipe is here Vietnamese Chicken Pho (Pho Ga).
The spices I use to create the amazing chicken pho aroma and flavour are star anise and coriander seeds.
The should be readily available at your mainstream grocers.
To get the most out of your dried spices, you should lightly toast them in a fry pan and then tie them up in a cheesecloth, chux cloth or a metal ball infuser.
To add the toasted aromatics to the soup use a cheesecloth or a “Chux” cloth to hold the spices together like a tea bag. This will make the spices much easier to remove from the soup once done.
Note: I have researched if it is dangerous to use “Chux” cloths as a “spice bag” for soups and it appears to be safe. Of course do your own research for your own piece of mind.
Getting the Flavour into the Chicken Pho Soup
Since this is a quick version we do not have the time or the effort to brew a fantastic chicken pho from scratch. So the best things you can do to get a great a tasting soup without the fuss are the following:
- Use Good Quality Chicken Stock – Better stock = better flavour! However, I understand we all have different budget constraints. So any liquid stock you can afford will be completely fine. The only thing I ask is not to use the powdered chicken stock for this recipe!
- Char the Onions and Ginger – To get a little char on the onions and ginger, dry fry them on a fry pan on medium high. It will add a hint of smokiness which will improve the overall flavour profile of your soup. Plus it is so quick and easy to do!
- Use Chicken Bouillon Powder – This is an optional ingredient but it will give the soup that extra “UMPH” if it tastes a little flat. You will find this chicken bouillon powder at Asian groceries. Well worth trip in my opinion.
What to Serve on the Table
I typically serve chicken pho with a plate of herbs / veg with chilli sauce and hoi sin sauce. This will allow everyone to tailor their own bowls of pho to how they like it.
I also personally like to put small dipping bowls on the table so that people can dunk their chicken pieces in chilli / hoi sin sauce.
How to Tailor Your Chicken Pho
- Make your dipping bowl by adding either hoisin sauce, chilli sauce or a combination of the two. (Optional)
- Add the some herbs and sprouts into your bowl. Give your bowl a stir or two. Note this will dilute the soup.
- Add a small squeeze of lemon. Not too much. (optional)
- Take a spoonful of soup and taste it.
- Tailor your soup by adding small amounts of the following condiments.
- Hot sauce / sriracha for saltiness and spice.
- Hoisin sauce for extra sweetness.
- Always taste check every time you add chilli or hoi sin sauce. Keep adjusting until it tastes perfect to you!
Other Noodle Soup Recipes You Might Like
- The Best Chinese Chicken and Egg Noodle Soup
- Vietnamese Pork and Thick Noodle Soup (Banh Canh)
- Quick Red Curry Chicken Noodle Soup
- Quick Chicken and Mushroom Glass Noodle Soup
- Quick Seafood and Pork Noodle Soup
- Laos Khao Soi – Tomato Meat Sauce Noodle Soup
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Quick Chicken Pho
- 3L Pot
- 4 chicken thighs fillets or 2 breasts, cleaned
- 500 gm dried rice noodles (generous servings) or 1 kg of fresh rice noodles
- 2 L low sodium liquid chicken stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 onion, cut in half
- 30 gm ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp sugar
- cracked pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp fish sauce or to taste
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder or to taste (Optional)
- 3 star anise (whole)
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 stalks spring onions, finely chopped
- 1/4 red onion, finely sliced
- 10 sprigs coriander roughly chopped (optional)
To Serve (Place on the Table)
- 125 gm bean sprouts, rinsed
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
- 6 sprigs Thai basil (optional)
- 2 birds eye chilli or jalapenos finely chopped (optional)
Condiments (Place on the Table)
- Sriracha / chilli sauce (highly recommended but optional)
- hoisin sauce (highly recommended but optional)
- Prepare all your ingredients.
- Add the chicken stock and 1 cup of water to a stock pot on medium high heat. Allow the pot to come to a boil.
- In a small fry pan on medium heat, add the coriander seeds and whole star anise. Toast the aromatics until fragrant. Wrap them up in a cheesecloth / chux cloth or tea bag.
- In the same fry pan, dry fry the onion halves and sliced ginger until their is a bit of char. Once done, add them to the stock pot.
- When the soup is boiling, add the chicken, sugar, pepper, chicken bouillon powder and toasted aromatics. Give the pot a stir and wait for stock to come back to a boil. Once boiling, turned down the heat to medium low and let the pot simmer partially covered for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, take out a piece of chicken and check if its done. If yes, then take out the rest and let it cool. If not, leave the chicken in the pot until done. Put the lid back on the pot with a small gap for the steam to escape and continue to simmer on low until needed.
- Tear up the chicken into bite sized pieces and leave in a closed container until needed. Prepare all your herbs / veg and the noodles as directed on the packaging.
- When everything is prepped, add the fish sauce to the pot and taste check. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. (Note 1)
- Turn up the heat to medium high on the stock pot and fish out the star anise and ginger.
- Divide the noodles into the bowls and put the chicken pieces on top. If using fresh noodles, please refer to note 2.
- Ladle over the boiling stock and add all the garnishes on top.
- If you want to add more salt and flavour to the stock then use fish sauce. If you need to dilute the stock to make more or toned down the flavour then add boiling water. However, the stock will be diluted further once you add the noodles and herbs. So, it is perfectly fine for the stock to be on the saltier side at this stage.
- If you are using fresh rice noodles, then divide the noodles into bowls. Pour boiling water into the bowl and move the noodles around for 10 seconds and then strain. The noodles are now ready for the soup.