Pho (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

Pho (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) is incredible.   It all starts with an amazing slow simmered chicken stock.   And then the wonderful fresh garnishes will nourish you and make you feel so good and comforted.  It is ubiquitous in the Vietnamese culture, and for good reason.  People eat Pho (chicken or beef) morning, day and night.   Make this dish, and you’ll understand why.   I followed technique and guidance from one of San Francisco’s most prominent chefs, Charles Phan, owner and chef of The Slanted Door.  Take the time to make the stock, and even the fried shallots, and you’ll have one of the most satisfying soups you’ve ever had in your life.  True comfort at its very best.  

Pho (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pho (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) truly is great for the soul. It is just so comforting and will make you feel great. Start by making the chicken stock, and then it all comes together easily. Pure comfort.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Serves: 6 - 8
  • 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled
  • 3-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled
  • 7 lbs chicken bones, such as back, wings, or whole carcass
  • 1½ tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 large thinly sliced shallots (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 1 (3 lb) whole chicken
  • 6 whole scallions
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, crushed (I use a garlic press)
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 16 oz. package dried rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • Crispy fried shallots, for garnish
  • Thai (or Chinese) basil*, for garnish
  • Mung bean sprouts*, for garnish
  • Limes, cut into wedges, for garnish
  • Jalapenos, stemmed and thinly sliced into rings, for garnish
  • *Available at Asian markets
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  3. Place the onion and ginger on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 1 hour, until the onion is soft and beginning to ooze. Remove from oven and let onion and ginger cool.
  4. Peel the onion and cut in half. Slice the unpeeled ginger into ¼-inch coins.
  5. While the onion and ginger are roasting, blanch the chicken bones (be sure the pot is large enough to blanch the bones without boiling over, do this by placing the bones in the pot and add water to cover by 1 inch, then remove the bones and set aside. ).
  6. Bring the water to a boil, then add the bones, return the water to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes.
  7. Drain the bones into a colander and rinse under cold running water. Rinse the pot and return the rinsed bones to the pot.
  8. Add the onion halves, ginger slices, salt, sugar, and 8 quarts fresh water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any impurities that forms on the surface.
  9. Lower the heat so the liquid is at a gentle simmer and simmer for 4 hours, skimming the surface occasionally.
  10. Remove the pot from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the large solids. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large container, let sit for a few minutes (or refrigerate overnight), then skim from the surface.
  11. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
  13. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high until it registers 350 F on a deep-fry thermometer.
  14. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until light golden brown, about 6 - 8 minutes (watch closely, don't let them burn!)
  15. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
  17. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  18. Add the chicken, scallions, ginger, and salt and boil for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot and let stand for 15 minutes. If your chicken is larger than 3 pounds, let stand 10 minutes longer.
  19. Just before the chicken is ready, prepare a large ice-water bath.
  20. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot (discarding the cooking liquid) and immediately submerge it in the ice-water bath, which will stop the cooking and give the meat a firmer texture.
  21. Let stand 20 minutes, until the chicken is cool enough to handle easily, remove from the water, and pat dry.
  22. Pull the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin.
  23. Shred the meat with you fingers; you should have about 4 cups (this step can be done a day ahead).
  24. In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Taste for seasoning and add more fish sauce, if needed (this will add more salt).
  25. To ready the garnishes, arrange the basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and jalapenos on a platter and place on the table.
  26. Divide the rice noodles evenly among warmed soup bowls.
  27. Top each serving with about ¾ cup of the shredded chicken, then divide the scallions and cilantro evenly among the bowls.
  28. Ladle the hot stock over the top, dividing it evenly, and sprinkle with the fried shallots.
  29. Serve at once, accompanied with the platter of garnishes.
  30. Enjoy!


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