My Favorite Recipes – Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) From Scratch

I’m launching my favorite recipe series with chicken pho noodle soup (pho ga) from scratch.

I will be sharing the sort of food I eat to stay in shape over 40 without having to starve myself or eat boring food.

Interestingly, I’d never heard of pho until I moved to North America in 2019.

I was walking past a Vietnamese restaurant and remembered my friend posted a picture on Facebook earlier.

I walked in and ordered chicken pho and I’ve been in love ever since.

However, in the wake of lockdown, my fussy palate, and resolution to make all my meals this year, I decided to cook it myself.

Very brave venture indeed considering the monumental process preparing pho ga is but I was ready for it.

There’s a handy recipe card at the end if you want to print it out and keep to try later on.  

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) From Scratch

What is Pho Ga?

Pho ga is a traditional Vietnamese soup made out of chicken stock, vegetables, spices, and lots of love.

The soup itself is named pho and variations of it are named after the main ingredient.

The most popular variation is pho bo (beef) but I’m not a big fan of beef so I defaulted to the chicken version.

Pho ga is much easier to make from scratch than pho ba. There’s also the vegetarian option, pho chay.

Related Content: Reach Your Fitness Goals Faster With These 17 Tips

How Do You Pronounce Pho Ga?

I realized I’d been pronouncing this incorrectly when I looked it up.

I’ve been pronouncing it exactly as it sounds. Apparently, it’s pronounced “fuh gah”

Is Pho Ga Healthy?

Anytime I start liking a dish a little too much, the first thing I do is look up the nutrition profile before I get addicted to a calorie bomb.

After my successful attempt, I went and did a little bit of research on pho ga nutrition and how healthy it is. Or not.

Pho has a high content of vitamin A and C, calcium, and iron while the toppings pack plenty of fiber.

However, it also has a very high sodium content and too much sodium in your diet can lead to several health issues.

To summarize, it doesn’t suck but it’s not 100% healthy either so I made the following modifications to make it healthier:-

  • Homemade chicken broth
  • Eliminated soy sauce and oil
  • Reduced salt to absolute minimum
  • Replaced white sugar with brown sugar
  • Used a smaller serving bowl (portion control)
  • Minimal fish sauce
  • Used lean chicken meat (breast)
  • A little bit of sriracha (this one was hard because I loveeeeeeeeeee sriracha)
  • Loads of veggie toppings. More veggies than chicken

You can also swap the regular vermicelli rice noodles with Shirataki Noodles if you want to make the dish more keto-friendly. 

Shirataki Noodles for Pho

I was all set to eat it every few days until further notice but I guess I have to dial it down to no more than every forth-night or so.

How To Eat Pho Ga

I use chopsticks and a nice big fat spoon for slurping that delicious clear soup.

When I’ve finished plating, I use the chopsticks to stir the toppings and chicken into the soup then dig in.

Traditionally, I believe the veggies are served separately and you help yourself to what you want.

How Many Calories in Pho Ga?

This depends on the ingredients and protein used but an average cup should come out to less than 200 calories which isn’t bad. 

If you’re serving in a bowl instead of a cup, it would work out to be an average of 250 — 450 calories depending on the size of the bowl.

Pho Ga Soup Spices

Make Pho Ga at Home

Pho ga is made in two steps. The first step involves the chicken stock while the second step involves cooking the soup.

A lot of people use store-bought chicken stock but I prefer fresh stock so I didn’t mind the extra time involved in preparing it.

I just make it the day before and keep it in the fridge until it’s time to put the soup together.

Pho Ga Stock Preparation

  • Chicken breast – I prefer the leanness of chicken breast but I guess you can use other parts of the chicken if you like.
  • Veggies – carrot, scallions, onions, celery, and ginger.
  • Spices – salt, black pepper, and cinnamon stick.

The good thing about making my own chicken stock is I make a large amount so I have enough to make pho ga 3 – 4 more times.

I just freeze it until the rotation comes up in my meal plan again.

Making Pho Ga Broth

Pho Ga Soup Preparation

For the soup itself, my favorite ingredients to use include:-

  • Chicken stock
  • Rice noodles
  • Spices – coriander seeds, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick
  • Onion
  • Ginger
  • Scallions
  • Brown sugar
  • Fish sauce – I really thought I would hate this (the smell is quite strong) but in the end, it blended perfectly and I barely noticed.

Pho Ga Toppings

This is my favorite part. I love fresh toppings so much and I load them up in my chicken pho dish.

I top my pho ga with mint, basil, cilantro, scallions, lime, and sriracha sauce.

I would very much have loved Thai basil but that was nowhere to be found.

I think another reason why I love this dish is that it’s mostly dump all ingredients in a pot and let it simmer.

Freezing Pho Ga

I made enough pho ga for about 2 weeks. I measured the amount for dinner x 3 days into a saucepan and put that in the fridge then poured the rest into an airtight container and stored it in the freezer.

Glass Food Storage Containers

I also had some rice noodles leftover and stored them in an airtight container in the freezer as well.

Store everything separately in airtight containers and you can keep it in the freezer for up to 2 months at a time. 

I prefer fresh rice noodles though so I probably wouldn’t freeze those next time.  

Pho Cookbook

I was so impressed with the first attempt that I’ve now decided to brave more pho recipes.

I just ordered The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen. 

The Pho Cookbook- Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) From Scratch

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) From Scratch

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This pho ga soup is heartwarming and delicious. Rich broth, chunks of healthy protein, and loads and loads of veggies and herbs. Perfect for a cold night.

Ingredients

Chicken Stock

  • 8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 bunch of scallions
  • 1 large red or white onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 cms strip of ginger
  • Salt
  • Black or white pepper
  • 5 - 6 cups of water

Pho Ga Soup

Pho Ga Toppings

  • Mint, basil, cilantro, scallions, lime and sriracha sauce

Instructions

Make Chicken Stock

  1. Clean and chop the carrot, scallions, onion, celery, and ginger and place in prep bowls. 
  2. Clean the chicken breast and place it in a large pot. No need to cut into pieces. Add the water. You can add more if you want a large portion to freeze.
  3. Add the chopped veggies and herbs, pink salt, and pepper. 
  4. Stir and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer level. 
  5. After 15 minutes, remove the cooked chicken from the stock. If you leave it any longer, the chicken will turn into a dry mess. 
  6. Set aside the chicken until pho ga plating time. 
  7. Continue simmering the broth for 45 minutes to 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove stock from the stove and sieve.
  8. Discard the solids and wait until the stock cools down.
  9. Measure out the amount for the pho ga broth and freeze the rest.

Make Pho Ga Broth

  1. Clean and prep the onion, scallions, and ginger and set aside. 
  2. Place a large pot on medium heat and add the coriander seeds, star anise, cloves.
  3. Toast for 1 - 2 minutes then add the scallions, ginger, and onion and continue toasting until fragrant. 
  4. Add the chicken stock, cinnamon stick, and cilantro sprigs, and water. 
  5. Turn up the heat and bring the broth to a rolling boil then lower the heat and gently simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the stove after 20 minutes then sieve. 
  7. Discard the solids and pour the broth back into the pot.
  8. Add the brown sugar and fish sauce. Stir and return to the stove to heat up a little. Taste to make sure all ok and you don't need a bit more salt.

Make Rice Noodles

  1. While the pho ga broth is reheating, bring a separate pot of water to a rolling boil.
  2. Add the rice noodles and immediately remove the pot from the stove.
  3. Let stand for 2 -3 minutes or until rice noodles are soft and pliable then drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.

Plating Pho Ga Bowls

  1. Toss a handful of rice noodles in your pho bowl.
  2. Shred the chicken and arrange it on top of the rice noodles.
  3. Layer the rest of the toppings on top except the sriracha sauce.
  4. Ladle the pho ga broth into the bowl until full. Drizzle the sriracha sauce over it and garnish with a wedge of lime. Enjoy!

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) From Scratch

Notes

  • Feel free to add more veggies as toppings. People add bean sprouts, carrots, bok choy, cabbage, lettuce, and even broccoli.
  • After draining the rice noodles, keep them in the colander so they can drain completely. If they’re wet when you plate, it will dilute the broth. 
  • You can use other parts of the chicken for pho ga but I used the breast to make it healthier. 
  • You can freeze the rest of the pho ga broth or keep it in the fridge for a few days. I kept mine for 3 days.
  • If you keep the chicken pho for a few days, store the broth, noodles, and toppings separately. Reheat and add as before the next day. If you store everything together, it will turn to mush.
  • The nutrition information is approximate and will change based on what ingredients you're adding or removing and if you’re making chicken stock or using store-bought.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 795mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 26g

This is only an approximate and will change depending on ingredients and type of stock used.

Did you make this recipe?

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