I set myself a challenge in the kitchen this winter – to master a really good clear soup broth. There is something really comforting about a warm bowl of noodle soup, especially when the winter chill has got you feeling a little under the weather.
Vietnamese Pho Ga (pronounced ‘Fuh Gah’) is the traditional clear soup made with whole chicken and aromatic herbs and spices. Making a clear soup isn’t a fast process and it takes time to perfect, so I set aside a cold Sunday at home to try my luck.
The traditional method of cooking Pho uses a whole chicken, however I prefer just the breast meat so I modified by using chicken carcasses and bones to flavour the soup, and chicken breast cooked in the soup just prior to serving. I was really happy with how this soup turned out – it was aromatic and sweet with a rich flavour that developed during the long cooking time. I have made Pho a number of times prior and used many different recipes – the recipe below is an amalgamation of quite a few recipes, in the aim of creating the best possible home-made Pho – hopefully you enjoy my own take on this Vietnamese classic!
What you need:
- Large saucepan
- Slow Cooker
- Sharp knife or cleaver
- Muslin and kitchen twine
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 5 x chicken carcasses (or other chicken bones)
- 4 x chicken breasts
- 1 x onion
- 1 x 4cm piece of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 x 3cm chunk of rock salt
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- Stems of a bunch of coriander
- 3 x whole star anise
- 5 x whole cloves
- 1 x teaspoon of coriander seeds
Garnishes & Condiments:
- 1 cup of bean sprouts
- 1-2 x lemons quartered
- 2 x long red chillis, sliced thickly
- 1 x bunch of coriander, chopped roughly
- Rice noodles
- Hoisin sauce to serve
1. To ensure that the soup is clear, the bones will need to be parboiled to get rid of any impurities and residue. Boil water in a large saucepan and submerge the chicken bones. After a few minutes you will see the water become cloudy and a ‘scum’ will form on the surface. Boil on high heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove the bones, discard the water and rinse both the bones and the saucepan thoroughly.
2. Place the whole onion and piece of ginger (both unpeeled) under a hot grill, or onto the grill of a barbecue. Cook until the skin chars and they are soft and fragrant. This will release flavour and ensure your soup has a delicate sweet flavour. Run the onion under cold water and rub off as much of the charred skin as possible. Cut into chunks and set aside. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the ginger and cut into slices and set aside with the onion.
3. The key to soup that has depth of flavour comes from the bones. To ensure that you get the most out of your bones, use a sharp knife or cleaver to cut through the bones in a few places to expose the marrow. Place the bones in the slow cooker along with the onions and ginger.
4. Place the coriander seeds, star anise, cloves and coriander stems in the muslin cloth, tie up with twine to secure. Place in the slow cooker and fill with water to cover. Turn the slow cooker on low temperature for 2+ hours. (Please note that you can use a regular saucepan to simmer this on the stovetop, however I love that you can ‘set and forget’ the slow cooker and not have to stand around and watch it for hours)
5. 25 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, place the chicken breasts into the soup to cook. Once they are cooked, remove from the stock and slice thinly.
6. Taste the broth and balance the flavour using the salt, fish sauce and rock sugar. Once you are happy with the flavour of your soup, you will need to strain out the solids. Using a fine sieve, strain the soup, discarding the bones, herbs and other solids.
6. Cook the rice noodles as per instructions on the package and divide evenly amongst 4 bowls. Top with sliced chicken, broth and condiments of choice. Serve with Hoisin sauce.
Storage: I usually portion the broth and refrigerate in airtight containers or freeze. If I am taking it to work for lunch, I make one zip lock bags containing all of the cold condiments, another another containing the noodles and chicken.
If you love Pho and you live in Canberra and can’t be bothered making your own – check out Anisa’s review of Tu Do’s delicious pho.
Don’t forget to hashtag #cookwiththemacadames when making our recipes. We’d love to hear how your went and get a peek at your kitchen table!
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Tegan – The Macadames. xx