Here it is friends: homemade Phở! This tasty, aromatic noodle soup has become a weekly tradition for our family and hits the spot every single time. Beef Phở – Phở Bò – was more common when I was a kid, and it’s still our family favorite, but Chicken Phở is excellent as well. We eat Phở all year long, even on hot summer days.
The key to a delicious bowl of Phở is the broth, no doubt about it. The ingredients combined with the prep work makes a difference in achieving that full authentic Phở broth flavor. Adding these 2 easy steps – toast the spices and char (partially burn) the root vegetables – help bring out the aromas, adding a smoky, complex and deep flavor that is unique to the Phở soup.
You can make this on the stove top or in an Instant Pot. Once you have the broth, simply add your favorite toppings and enjoy! We like ours with shredded carrots or cabbage, sometimes both. In an effort to limit our shopping during the pandemic, we don’t have bean sprouts or Basil, but it’s not terribly missed, the soup is still very satisfying with fresh veggies! To friends who’ve been asking for Beef Pho recipe: it’s in the works and I’ll be happy to share that one soon. For now, give the Chicken Phở a try, I think you’ll love it! Thank you for trying my recipes and be sure to check back for more. Bon Appetit!
Servings: 3 – 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 – 60 minutes*
- 2 pounds boned-in chicken thighs or legs
- 1 yellow/white onion
- 2 inch ginger
- 1 whole garlic
- 2 scallions
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 – 4 whole star anise
- ½ tablespoon whole cloves
- ½ tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 oz palm sugar (not the same as coconut sugar)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 6 cups water
- Fresh Pho noodles or dry flat rice stick noodles
Toppings and condiments
- ½ small onion (red, white or yellow)
- Shredded carrots
- Green onions
- Jalapeno peppers
- Hoisin – optional
- Beansprouts and Thai basil if available
Making the Broth
Toast spices: In a nonstick skillet, on medium heat – add cinnamon stick, star anise, whole cloves and peppercorns to toast about 3 to 4 minutes to release the aroma, stir a couple times to prevent burning, remove and set aside.
Char: Peel and cut yellow onion in half, slice the top of whole garlic, slice ginger in half lengthwise and add to the same skillet, cut side down and char on medium high heat for about 5 minutes. (avoid stainless steel pan, it’s not fun to clean)
Stove Top Method: In a large soup pot (6-8qt), add water, chicken, toasted spices, charred vegetables and the remaining ingredients, bring to boil and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove the chicken and place into a bowl, add cold water to the bowl to cool and prevent drying out. When cool enough to handle (about 5 minutes), drain the water, remove and discard the bones and any skin, shred the meat with 2 forks and set aside.
Strain the broth through a fine strainer or use a cheesecloth over any strainer, pour broth into a smaller pot or a large bowl, discard the vegetables and spices, return the broth to the soup pot. Taste, adjust as needed and continue to simmer until ready to pour into the assembled bowls.
Prep and assemble the soup bowls
About 15 minutes before the broth is done – cook the rice noodles according to package instructions.
Prepare the toppings – wash and drain vegetables and herbs. Shred carrots and/or cabbage, cut lime into wedges, thinly slice onions and jalapenos, finely chop green onions and cilantro and set aside.
In a large soup bowl, add about 1 cup of cooked rice noodles, meat, sliced onions, and ladle about 2 cups of the broth into the bowl, enough to cover everything. Top with bean sprouts or veggies, green onions, cilantro, jalapenos, Thai basil, sriracha, a squeeze of lime, mix and ENJOY!
Instant Pot Method: Toast spices and char root vegetables as listed above. Add all prepared ingredients to IP, close and lock the lid in place, make sure the steam vent is sealed. I prefer to toast and char in a skillet and not the Saute setting, as it’s hard to clean off the burned spots and it might ruin the IP pot.
Set IP on Manual setting, at High Pressure, for 15 minutes. It takes about 15 minutes for the countdown to begin. When done, use Natural Release which takes about 15-20 minutes.
When natural release is done, open the lid and carefully remove the chicken using a slotted spoon and place into a bowl, add cold water to the bowl to cool and prevent drying out. When cool enough to handle (about 5 minutes), drain the water, remove and discard the bones and any skin, shred the meat with 2 forks and set aside.
Use kitchen mittens to carefully remove the pot and strain the broth through a fine strainer and pour into a soup pot. Discard the vegetables and spices, taste, adjust as needed and simmer on the stove top until ready to pour into the assembled bowls. Follow the prep and assemble the soup bowls above.
- Palm sugar and Rock sugar are not as sweet as regular sugar but add a nice flavor to the broth. Available at Asian markets or online. Substitute with 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar if neither are available.
- Salt – depends on the type, if you like more sodium, add ½ teaspoon at a time and adjust as you go.
- Fish sauce is important for this broth, I recommend getting some (you’ll also need it for the other yummy recipes). But if you absolutely can’t find any, leave it out and add about ½ – 1 teaspoon of salt. I prefer to not use soy sauce as it changes the Phở flavor.
- Alternate char methods: Gas stove – place cut onions, garlic and ginger directly onto the open gas grate, char on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Broil – place onions, ginger and garlic on a broil safe pan – cut side up and broil at 450F degrees, garlic for 5 minutes, the rest for another 10 minutes. Careful not to burn. If needed, rinse onion, garlic and ginger in cold water to remove burnt parts before adding to the pot.
- Fresh Phở noodles are best when we can get them. Otherwise dry Phở noodles or dry flat rice sticks or Phad thai noodles are good options for Phở. Note that vermicelli noodles are thinner and are not the same as Phở noodles, those are often used for other dishes such as Bún – noodle salads
- Other toppings: saute any of these vegetables with a bit of oil before adding to the soup – carrots, mushrooms, bok choy, cabbage. Get creative and add your favorite vegetables to this delicious broth.
- Hoisin sauce: The broth is very flavorful. You won’t need to sweeten it with Hoisin sauce. It’s often mixed with Sriracha as dipping sauce for Beef Phở. But if you must have it, I recommend tasting the broth before adding and maybe just ½ to 1 teaspoon.