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Easy Weekday Chicken Pho

The key to delicious and easy chicken pho is in cooking the stock with flavorful aromatics including cinnamon stick, ginger, star anise, cloves and peppercorns. While the hands-on portion of this soup is minimal, the stock needs to simmer for about 45 minutes to obtain a rich, aromatic flavor. Take the time to shop for fresh ingredients and you will be rewarded with restaurant-worthy flavor. This recipe can be adapted with vegetable broth, tofu and/or a variety of vegetables for a vegan version.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Entrees, Soup
Servings: 4
Author: Jackelin

Ingredients

  • 12-14 cups chicken stock I use Better Than Bouillon; replace with vegetable stock for vegan version
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise
  • dozen or so peppercorns
  • 4 cloves optional
  • 4 slices about 1/8 inch thick of ginger, peeled
  • 2 2 small or one large onion peeled and sliced in half
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots peeled
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts or tofu for vegetarian version
  • 2 cups loosely packed bok choy leaves or vegetable(s of choice, ie. Chinese cabbage, broccoli, carrots)
  • About 8 ounces of rice noodles thin or thick - your choice
  • Garnishes: cilantro leaves Thai basil leaves, sliced scallions, sliced jalapeños, lime wedges, Siracha sauce, hoisin sauce

Instructions

  • Begin by preparing the stock. In a large stock pot, place onions, carrots, celery, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, peppercorns, chicken and chicken broth and bring it all to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and let it cook gently for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how much time you have (the longer it simmers, the more flavorful your stock will be, but you will also reduce the amount of stock in your pot  through evaporation). If cooking longer, you may want to begin with a couple of cups of extra stock or plain water.
  • About 20 minutes before your stock is done cooking, begin boiling some water in a separate pot for your rice noodles. Cooking the rice noodles separately is an essential, necessary step. Don't worry it's just one more pot to wash, and your stock will remain clear and free of added starch, while the noodles will retain their firm consistency, rather than becoming soggy. Follow the package directions for cooking the rice noodles, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside in a colander.
  • Meanwhile, once your stock has simmered for about 45 minutes, remove the chicken to a cutting board or shallow dish and use two forks to shred the meat. Remove all of the vegetables and aromatics from the stock and strain it until it's clear (discard the vegetables). Place the shredded chicken back into the stock and continue to simmer while adding the bok choy or whatever vegetable(s) you are using. For bok choy, you'll only need to simmer the broth a minute or two longer to slightly wilt the leaves. Other vegetables, like carrots and broccoli, will require a little more time to reach the right consistency (crisp, but not raw).
  • To serve, place desired amount of noodles into a good size bowl, ladle the pho over the noodles, and top with garnishes, including basil, cilantro, sliced jalapeños, sliced scallions, lime juice, siracha and hoisin sauce.
  • Enjoy!