Easy Pho Ga (Saigon Chicken Rice Noodle Soup)

Pho Ga. Ever hear of it? It’s Chicken Rice Noodle Soup from Vietnam aka Saigon Chicken Rice Noodle Soup from Vietnam. This is probably NOT your typical Bubbes’ (OR Grandmother’s/Mother’s) soul-healing Chickeny Noodle Soup, but it’s just as soothing and just as delicious, albeit a lot more spiced and exotic.

I like to call it Vietnamese Penicillin. Any hot, soothing chicken based soup gets a moniker along with ‘Penicillin’.

That said, one cool aspect of food blogging is that someone in the publishing world might see your blog and think you’ve got the skill, creativity, talent and chops to write and maybe even photograph your own cookbook.  There have been several bloggers who are working on, or have cookbooks published, and one of them just so happens to be this month’s Daring Cooks host, Jaden of Steamy Kitchen.  This gal’s got mad talent, and her blog is a joy to ogle, drool over and read, so I can completely understand why she’s now the author of a cookbook that’ll most definitely sell like hotcakes.  Congrats, Jaden!

Pho Ga. Ever hear of it? It's Saigon Chicken Rice Noodle Soup from Viet Nam. This is probably NOT your typical Bubbes' (OR Grandma's/Mom's) soul-healing Chickeny Noodle Soup, but it's just as soothing and just as delicious, albeit a lot more spiced and exotic.

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.  If you’re a lover of Asian food, this book is right up your alley.  If you’re not, it’ll make you one!  *Not so subliminal message* Buy this phoking book! Thanks for sharing these recipes with us, Jaden!

Pho Ga. Ever hear of it? It's Saigon Chicken Rice Noodle Soup from Viet Nam. This is probably NOT your typical Bubbes' (OR Grandma's/Mom's) soul-healing Chickeny Noodle Soup, but it's just as soothing and just as delicious, albeit a lot more spiced and exotic.

As you’ve probably figured out by the title of this entry, we’re making soup, but not just any soup, Chicken Rice Noodle soup from Vietnam  (Pho Ga).  Pho is pronounced ‘fuh’, so you just know I’m going to have a field day with this one.  To say this soup is fanphokingtastic is an understatement.  This soup is fanphokingtastic and fanphokingtabulous.

We were given the option of making the chicken aka Pho Ga soup (Ga is Vietnamese for chicken), Jaden’s beef version, or seafood, pork  or vegetarian/vegan, if desired.  I decided to stick with the chicken, but I’ll most definitely be trying her beef version, especially after smelling, tasting, almost wanting to bathe in, the chicken version.

Pho Ga. Ever hear of it? It's Saigon Chicken Rice Noodle Soup from Viet Nam. This is probably NOT your typical Bubbes' (OR Grandma's/Mom's) soul-healing Chickeny Noodle Soup, but it's just as soothing and just as delicious, albeit a lot more spiced and exotic.

Straight from the mouth of Jaden: So what is Vietnam (Saigon) Pho? Well, it’s like the most incredibly delicious and popular noodle soup in Vietnam. The broth is simmered for hours and hours with either beef knuckle/leg bone or with a whole chicken. Other accompaniments include ribbons of rice noodles, fresh herbs like cilantro or basil, a wedge of lime or lemon, fresh bean sprouts and fresh sliced chilies, if desired.

What makes this Pho Ga so different than any other type of chickeny noodle soup is the spices that go into the simmering broth. Warm spices like coriander, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fresh ginger transform an ordinary broth into a very authentic Saigon Pho Ga.

I want to add.  There are two versions of Pho. One is from Hanoi, and one is from Saigon. Although there are other variations throughout the country, these two cities seem to have the most popular Pho. In doing my research, I discovered that Jaden’s pho is more of a Saigon pho than a Hanoi pho, due to all the toppings and the wider rice noodles, so I decided to call this pho Saigon Pho.

Pho Ga. Ever hear of it? It's Saigon Chicken Rice Noodle Soup from Viet Nam. This is probably NOT your typical Bubbes' (OR Grandma's/Mom's) soul-healing Chickeny Noodle Soup, but it's just as soothing and just as delicious, albeit a lot more spiced and exotic.

That being said, Jaden also gave us the choice of making her quick version of Pho Ga, or making her long simmering pot of homemade stock version of Pho Ga.  Since I had several quarts of homemade chicken stock in my freezer, I decided to make the quick version of Pho Ga.  This frozen stock is unbelievable, and most definitely Bubbes’ version, so I suppose you could also call my Pho Ga Jewishnamese Penicillin.

What makes Pho Ga unique, as mentioned above, whether it be the long, simmering version or the quick version of Pho Ga, is the spices and aromatics.  OMG, the smell of the Pho Ga broth simmering will make your mouth water and induce funny sounds from your tummy.

SO, you char an onion and a knob of ginger, scraping off the charred skins , and toast some star anise, coriander seeds and cloves, then dump them into a pot along with sugar, fish sauce, a whole chicken and water (long, simmering version) or chicken stock and one whole chicken breast (short version).  Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and voila, Pho Ga heaven with lots of accoutrements, and a damn good cure for my cold (on its last legs, but still annoying).

Deep-Fried Wonton Snickers and Pho Ga
Finally, Jaden also has a great recipe for chocolate wontons which we were asked to make along with the soup.  The fun part is, whoever comes up with the most unique, creative sweet wonton filling, will win a copy of her new cookbook.


I took a Snickers bar, chopped it into pieces, and that’s my filling.  I have to admit, it was really phoking good!  Naturally, I couldn’t just sit with that, so I also made some unique Peanut & Jelly (My spiced plum chutney from the Dosa challenge, hot chili peanuts, and coconut) mini eggroll wontons at the last minute (try 10 minutes ago).  Now I feel better.  Disturbing, huh? The truth is, they sucked – but I tried.

Deep Fried Plum Chutney - Coconut - Peanut Wontons and Pho Ga

Don’t make these, they’re gross.

OH, I saw some super creative wontons in the Daring Kitchen forum, and I know one thing for sure..Phogeddaboutit, I ‘ain’t’ winning squat!

Easy Saigon Chicken Rice Noodle Soup (Pho Ga)

Quick and Easy Pho Ga (Saigon Chicken Soup)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Chicken Pho Broth
  • 2 tablespoons.whole coriander seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) purchased or homemade chicken stock
  • 1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless) I prefer bone in. More flavor.
  • ½ of one large onion, unpeeled
  • 1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, unpeeled
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons.sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons.fish sauce
  • 1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide):
  • 2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off *
  • Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
  • ½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
  • ½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
  1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: Place an oven rack directly under the broiler and line a baking sheet with tin foil. Heat the broiler to high. Rub the half, unpeeled onion and ginger with vegetable oil then place on the pan and under the broiler. Broil 10 to 12,minutes until onion skin and ginger peel is black, turning every 3 minutes so the undersides char too. Let cool, then scrape off the charred skins of both the ginger and onion. Try to get all of the 'black' off both of them.. lice the giner, then smash it with the back of a knife. Set aside until ready to add to the broth.
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
  3. In a large pot, add all the ingredients for the pho broth (including the toasted spices and charred and scraped onion and ginger) and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  5. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers or slice it like I did, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
  6. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard all the solids.
  7. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
  8. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded or sliced chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
  9. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
* I like the tails on the bean sprouts, so I leave them on. A matter of choice.

Chocolate Wontons
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 12 chocolate wontons
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon.water
  • 12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
  • 12 pieces or nuggets of chocolate (use any type of chocolate you like)
  • High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)
  • Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
  2. On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down witha point toward you, like a diamond.
  3. Place 1 piece of chocolate near the top end of the wrapper. Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper.
  4. Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.
  5. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces. Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.
  6. In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil. Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons.
  7. Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.


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72 Responses to Easy Pho Ga (Saigon Chicken Rice Noodle Soup)

  1. shaz says:

    Wow! I can just smell the pho from here. And plum jam with spicy peanuts sound just phofect (I had to try right?:)). Great job.

  2. Unique PB & J (spiced plum chutney, hot chili peanuts and coconut) wontons sound like a winner to me Lisa. And the pictures of the chicken phở look fabulous love that line of chillies in the stock this is one wonderful soup so fresh and light yet so full of flavour. Well done on this challenge good to hear the cold is slmost gone.

  3. Palidor says:

    I love pho noodle soup! Your bowl of soup is picture perfect. Love the chocolate wontons too. I would love to try your peanut butter and jelly version. All those flavors together sound wonderful!

  4. Jenn says:

    Your peanut butter and jelly is totally creative!! And I wouldn’t knock a Snickers filling…mmm snickers….great job w/ the challenge!

  5. The soup looks outstanding and I just love your peanut butter and jelly filling for wontons, how wonderfully delicious!

  6. Karen says:

    I’ll gladly come over everyday if it means I’d have a meal of pho and snicker wontons 😛 Snickers! It’s genius! Speaking of rice noodle soups, I had a roasted tomato and garlic bisque with rice noodles last night! I’ve never seen rice noodles in a tomato bisque, but it was great!

  7. Dan says:

    WOW the soup looks awesome and great photos too they are PhoGabulous. Good luck in the ALCS.

  8. You got to be kidding right? I am the one going to win the LEAST CREATIVE wonton filling… I just did a little piece of chocolate in the wonton… haha.. still delicious though but well.. not so creative I guess… Your pho looks awsome! O and by the way; I love the idea of putting snickers in the wontons! I think that IS actually very creative!

  9. Rosa says:

    Your Pho looks delightful and so comforting! Those wonton wraps look delicious too!



  10. Dale says:

    You made pho sound both fun and delicious – nice write-up. And anything with Snickers HAS to be good. 🙂

  11. ingrid says:

    Phu-ummilious! Ha-ha! You’re a nut!

    Lisa your photos are super sharp and clear…..new lens? 🙂

    Hope you’re feeling better!

  12. Katrina says:

    You are too pho-nny!
    And darn it all, I don’t even like Asian food, but this looks and sounds SO good. (I used to love it, then 11+ years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest, I couldn’t stand the smell or even mention of Asian food. Kind of annoying.) BUT, when I do “give in” and have some or even cook it, I like it, so–weird!
    Love all your yummy looking food here and for the record, I’d totally go for the Snickers wonton!

  13. Alana says:

    Pho-bulous dahling. You, my dear, are the bees knees.

  14. ente says:

    Pho is my favorite soup. Since leaving Seattle (a hot bed of Asian food and where I worked with some awesome Vietnamese chefs) 6 years ago…I have missed it so very much. I can’t wait to try this version!

  15. Anula says:

    I could lick the screen when I’m looking at your wontons!!! Your Pho looks very delicious too 🙂 Great job – as always. Cheers!

  16. Frenchie says:

    Wonderful job, both your pho and your wontons are so appetizing. I love that you said phoking, I laughed out loud!

  17. Rose says:

    Phok Yeah Girl! Looks great 🙂 Love your wonton varieties. Hope you are feeling 100% better!

  18. Lauren says:

    Hehe Love it! Great post, beautiful photos, and awesome wontons =D. Hope you get over the cold soon (I just finished one myself) – not fun.

  19. Minh says:

    Snickers wonton! I phoking love it haha. The chicken version sounds great, I’ll have to give it a go

  20. Jenni says:

    Oh, great job! I loved all your phoking comments (I so wanted to ladle my blog with them, but I tried to restrain myself…it was hard). I think your plum peanut rolls rock my socks off. I want one.

  21. chef_d says:

    Wow the mini egg roll wontons sound amazing! Great pictures! 🙂

  22. Esi says:

    Awwwesome as always!! I agree, this was phoking amazing and you’re right, it’s the penicillin for people who are allergic. I always have pho or something similar when I am not feeling well.

    PS, the wontons look great too!

  23. Wic says:

    your pictures are breathtaking and all your food looks delicious.

  24. Sophie says:

    Hey Lisa Michele,

    I hope you are okay? Your Pho ga looks fab!! Tasty too!

  25. MandyM says:

    Oh… that looks gooooooooood! I wonton some Phod! Sorry… a bit lame, I know *blush*

    Looks fantastic as always 🙂

  26. Okay, first, you have some rockin’ photos here. Second, your snickers wontons are straight outta Martha Stewart and your pho derivatives crack me up, take it to the bridge!

  27. debbmarie says:

    Really enjoyed this post! Pictures are amazing.

  28. Valerie says:

    Great job, as usual! And at least your wontons didn’t explode in the pan (like half of mine did). You should totally try the beef version though, you’ll love it!

  29. Lisa, that is one beautiful and great-color-coordinated bowl of Pho. Love love love it! And the wontons are crispy and scrumptious!


  30. climbhighak says:

    Don’t count yourself out. You put out another top notch blog with absolutely delicious looking pho. I think I had the H1N1 and should have made the chicken. Would rather inject myself with your pho than the government innoculation.

    I also am having charred onion envy. Great work.

  31. Beth says:

    Gorgeous photos. Who wouldn’t want to make this soup with all of that beautiful produce? I haven’t made the leap from Daring Bakers to Daring Cooks yet, but this challenge really makes me want to.

  32. Jacque says:

    Um, yea, that does look seriously delicious… and sorta healthy to boot! Nice job (fun post 🙂 )

  33. Arlette says:

    This is a very healthy and delicious looking soup…
    and what not to like with all the flavours you used I bet you
    you was hungry from the aroma filling your kitchen.
    I like all kind of chicken soups they are healhty and comforting .

    like Your chocolate Wontons too.

  34. Wendy says:

    It sounds heavenly. Great pictures!

  35. Thanks Lisa for visiting my blog, so that I could discover yours! Lovely pics! And thanks for the warm welcome to the Daring Cooks.

  36. VeganPower says:

    Hey your pictures is very nice too 🙂 and the wontons look so beautiful, and apatasing 😉

  37. swerit says:

    Thanks for the comments re: my pho! your’s looks delectable! I’m truly addicted to this soup now!

  38. Barbara says:

    Your pho is so clear and beautiful! I don’t think there is anything boring about Fried Snickers Nutella!

  39. Lori says:

    It was an amazing soup. I have not had it before at a restaurant. I liked the flavors.

    Yours of course looks amazing. You always have such great photos!

  40. sijeleng says:

    Wonderful pics of the ingredients and finished soup. I hope the Yankees end up as charred as the ginger and onion.

  41. Monkeyshines says:

    Your soup is a work of art – congratulations! Those charred onions and ginger look awesome… Love the PB&J too!

  42. elra says:

    What a delicious soup. Such perfect soup is very welcome in my family.

  43. Thank you for your nice comment on my blog. I loved your Pho. It seems so delicious and the picture is awesome.Your won Tons are yummy. Well done!

  44. That looks great! Really and your chocolate wontons would have been snapped up in a second in this household 😀

  45. Cheri says:

    Your photos are always so bright and cheery. I love ’em! And, your PB&J egg-rolls sound delish.

  46. You Pho and wontons look phenomenal..wow. Congrats, wish I was there to try them

  47. Your eggroll wontons are deadly! Please hide them. 🙂 Everything looks so stunningly yummy. You’re the queen of the kitchen!

  48. Olga says:

    now I wish I would have chosen red chilies! They look really pretty next to the herbs.

  49. Charli says:

    Wow those look pho-nominal!!!

  50. Juliana says:

    Your pho look absolutely mouth watering…and the chocolate eggroll very yummie! What a combo! Great pictures as always 🙂

  51. Shandy says:

    Everything about your pho soup looks phenomenal! I love the wonton dessert. Your pictures are beautiful too

  52. Diva says:

    Wow, what an amazing post! I don’t even know where to begin … the laughs, the soup, the wantons?! All spectacular. I want a bowl of this for lunch and one of your snickers wantons for dessert … for phoking real! 😉

  53. trissalicious says:

    The pho looks really good… but those wontons… I can’t get the chocolate ones out of my head! Brilliant idea to fry some snickers – they are already bad for your waistline anyway – why not just throw everything out of the door! I definitely would for this!

  54. Lynne says:

    I enjoyed reading your post. Also, I liked seeing your step-by-step photos of the pho. This was a cool challenge!

  55. Snuggle Puppy says:

    Yummm! Pictures look amazing

  56. Catherine @ Domestic Joy says:

    These photos are amazing and I love your fried wontons – too delicious for a Friday morning – makes me want to go and skip the rest of the day and just cook something tasty! 🙂

  57. Jill says:

    Wow I’m so behind on my blog stalking! Loved this post! I especially LOVED the dessert aspect-both wonton desserts looked and sounded amazing! You are so creative and you never disappoint! 🙂

  58. Y says:

    Drop dead gorgeous DC contribution! A nice way to start a meal, especially if it ends with those decadent wontons 🙂

  59. Lisa… Your pho and wontons look terrific! I’m sitting her and my stomach is growling just looking at the photos. Also, a wonderful write up with a lot of humor intertwined. I think the carnival food concessioners will steal your idea of snickers wontons and pbj wontons with chutney. Both sound decadent and delicious.

  60. Kitchen Goddess says:

    Lisa your pho and wontons look amazing.

  61. I have a serious weakness for Vietnamese soups. This one looks spectacular. Just perfect really any time of year – even summer with that refreshing lime.

    Are you doing the DB challenge this month?

  62. Jill says:

    Where is your Daring Bakers’ post? I’m dying with anticipation… 🙂

  63. Olive says:

    same question, when can we see your macarons? ‘Love your pho and wontons 🙂

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  65. jengd says:

    I don’t care what ails ya’, this looks to be a fix to me!

  66. Merperlooky says:

    Hello this is just a random topic. No worries!

  67. Agogentee says:

    Hello all,

    My name is Billy, I just wanted to introduce myself since I am new to this site…

    I am new to the internet but I am learning alot real quick!

    I’m a Hair Stylist and devoted father.

    The things I love most in life are family, friends and nascar.

    On week days you’ll usually find me being lazy. On the weekends I like to party and watch nascar.

    My idea of the perfect day would start with breakfast. And then I’d go to the a football game. Later I’d eat a great dinner from uGO FlameDisk. And I’d top it all off by snuggling with my GF.

    I also love hip hop videos.

    Anyways it’s great to be a part of your site!


  68. beastegot says:

    Hi, greetings from Spain.

    I saw this forum in Bing and it looks marvelous.

    First of all I want to introduce myself and say hello.

    As a christmas present I wish to offer one of my recipes to you
    You can read it here: http://traceyrios.vox.com/library/post/christmas-dinner-recipes.html

    Enjoy and get back to me and tell me what you think of it.

    All the best,


  69. q_well says:

    Good post.
    we need to realize that health is the most precious treasure. Therefore we must always guard it, by paying attention to diet and exercise regularly. With what I’ve read more I’d know how to make this body to remain healthy. Visit my page so we can exchange information about the health of the body.

  70. Dara says:

    Love this soup! I need a good flu remedy.

  71. This looks fantastic and is something I have always wanted to make!

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