Learn how to make this easy pho recipe: Five-Spice Chicken & Vietnamese Noodle Soup! With the right shortcuts and ingredients, it will be ready in under an hour – just in time for dinner on busy weeknights!
Faux Pho – An Easy Pho Recipe
Shout out to all my fellow impatient foodies and home cooks who simply do not have the time, energy or kitchen space to devote to prepare a traditional pho broth from scratch. This is for you!
- Is this an authentic recipe? No – definitely not!
- Is it still worth trying? Yes – absolutely!
This recipe strikes a good balance between most quick pho recipes (in the 20 minute range) and more traditional pho recipes (in the 6+ hour range). And I’m not just saying that because I made it!
What’s to Love Here?
Lots! There are a lot of things to love about this Vietnamese-inspired chicken noodle soup, but here are a few key things to love:
- The chicken prep is almost totally hands-off. Simply add the thighs to a baking dish, cover with the remaining ingredients and roast until cooked through. It’s out of the way and super easy!
- It’s comes together in under an hour. Traditional pho broth takes time to properly prepare. Hours. Sometimes even days. This recipe, on the other hand, comes together easily in under an hour. As the chicken roasts, the soup simmers. As the soup simmers you can prep the noodles and fresh ingredients. Altogether, the cooking time is under an hour total. Easy!
- It’s healthy comfort food in a hot, steamy bowl. It’s light, yet filling. Soothing, savory and supremely satisfying. Between the fresh herbs, the protein, the noodles and rich and flavorful broth – this Five Spice Chicken Noodle Soup is wholesome, revitalising and delicious!
Preparation breaks down into a three different stages:
- Chicken – Make this first. The chicken will cook hands-off while you make the broth.
- Broth – Start the broth once the chicken is in the oven.
- Add-ins – While the broth simmers, make the noodles and prepare the fresh herbs and ingredients.
- Combine: Add the thighs and garlic to a baking dish and cover with the roasting ingredients: five spice, chicken broth, vinegar and soy sauce.
- Bake: Place in the middle of the oven and bake. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs need about 30-35 minutes to bake. You can use chicken breasts if you prefer. For breasts, bake about 20-25 minutes.
- Rest: Once cooked through, remove from oven and set aside to rest. Wait to slice chicken until just before serving.
- Toast Spices: Add the whole spices to a dry pot and toast for a 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Why toast whole spices? To enhance their flavor! The heat unlocks some of their essential oils which will leech out into the fresh aromatics and broth.
- Fry aromatics: Add a drizzle of oil to the pot. Add the onion, cut-side down along with the garlic and ginger slices. Fry over medium-high or high heat for a few minutes without stirring. The goal is to char the aromatics to create a sweet and smokey flavor.
- Add remaining broth ingredients: Chicken stock, water, vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce.
Tip: Fish Sauce
Look for Vietnamese fish sauce (Nuoc mam) if possible. It’s known for being slightly sweeter and lighter in both color and flavor when compared to Thai fish sauce.
Simmer & Strain
- Cover the pot and let simmer at least 20 minutes.
- Taste and season as needed.
- Strain out the spices and aromatics to create a clear broth.
- Rice Noodles: Pho typically calls for flat rice noodles, but you can sub with vermicelli or ramen. Just make sure to cook according to the package instructions.
- Fresh Ingredients: Wash and chop the herbs, chili and spring onions as needed.
- Chicken: If you haven’t already, slice the chicken breast/thigh.
- Divide the noodles between bowls.
- Add the broth.
- Top with chicken and fresh ingredients.
- Stir in an extra squeeze of lime juice to bright things up.
Leftovers and Storage
Ideally you should store leftover broth on its own and add fresh noodles as you need. Eat or remove whatever leftover noodles you can as they will turn to mush when left in the broth for too long.
If you don’t mind, you can just leave the noodles as they are. While they will definitely break apart, they still taste great. Just mix in some freshly boiled noodles and you’re good to go.
Either way, keep leftover pho stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stove top by brining to a boil before adding fresh noodles to the pot.
Roasted Chicken Thighs
- 1.5 lbs (680g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon ground five spice
- 1/2 cup chicken stock (120 ml)
- 1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce or tamari (15 ml)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (15ml)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 5 whole clove
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (15ml)
- 1 large white onion, cut in half
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger cut into slices
- 4 cups chicken broth (960ml)
- 2 cups water (480)
- 2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce, ensure gluten free (30 ml)
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (30 ml)
- 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce or tamari (30 ml)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 8 ounces flat rice noodles
- 1 red chili, sliced
- 1/2 cup (one large handful) fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup (one large handful) fresh mint leaves
- 5 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Preheat oven to 400°/205°C.
- Add the chicken thighs and garlic cloves to a large baking dish. Sprinkle five spice over the top. Cover with chicken stock, soy sauce and vinegar.
- Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the thighs reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).
- Once cooked through, remove from oven and set aside to rest.
- Toast Spices: Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over a medium heat then add the whole spices (cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel and peppercorn). Dry-toast for 1 minute until fragrant stirring every so often.
- Fry Aromatics: Add oil to the spices. Place the onion in the pot, cut-size down. Add the garlic and ginger slices. Gently fry 3-4 minutes over a medium-high heat without stirring. Add a little more oil to the pan if it's looking a bit dry and smokey.
- Liquids: Add the stock, water, fish sauce, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar to the pot. Bring the pot to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover with a fitted lid and let simmer, at least 20 minutes. Taste and season after 20 minutes. Add salt, pepper as needed.
- Noodles: In another large pot, cook the noodles according to their package instructions, then divide between 4 serving bowls.
- Assembly: Slice the cooked chicken and divide between the four bowls along with the broth, fresh herbs, chili and spring onions. Serve with a wedge of lime for each bowl and enjoy.
- Leftovers: Store the broth on its own and add fresh noodles to reheated soup as needed. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge 3-4 days.
- Rice Noodles: Pho noodles are usually thin, flat rice noodles but you can use thin rice noodles, vermicelli, or even ramen instead.
- Fish Sauce: Ideally choose a Vietnamese fish sauce (over Thai) and ensure it's gluten free if needed.
- Chicken: You can use chicken breast instead of thighs. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Stock: Instead of chicken you can use beef broth for an even richer flavor.