Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup: A Better Way to Feel Better

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup: A Better Way to Feel Better

Beat the winter blues with this chicken noodle soup recipe! Delicious and nutritious, this soup is perfect for the whole family.

The following is an excerpt from The Nourishing Asian Kitchen by Sophia Nguyen Eng. It has been adapted for the web.

RECIPE: Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

This soup is so simple to put together and is enjoyed by all ages in any kind of weather! The children tell me that they could eat this every day, so it’s some- thing we have at least weekly, even in the heat of the summer.

This is a much lighter variation of beef phở, and my mother’s secret is to always have some black cardamom on hand. If you were out of all your spices, this is truly the only one you would need for a good bowl of phở gà. I also use dried jujubes and daikon for a natural and medicinal sweetener.

You can substitute zucchini noodles or homemade tagliatelle for the rice noodles. For increased nutrient density and an extra crunch without affecting the flavor profile of the soup, I quickly blanch some bok choy and cut it up for the family to enjoy.


  • 10 cups (2.4 L) spring water, or more as needed
  • 1/2 daikon, peeled and quartered (optional)
  • 10 dried jujube apples or 1 (4-ounce [115 g]) Fuji apple
  • 1 (4- to 5-pound [1.8–2.3 kg]) pasture-raised chicken
  • 5 star anise pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons (36 g) black cardamom seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 1 (4-inch [10 cm]) piece fresh ginger, halved
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons (74 mL) fish sauce or Fermented Anchovy Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons maple sugar or coconut sugar (optional)

For Serving:

  • 8 baby bok choy
  • 1 (16-ounce [454 g]) package dried flat rice noodles (pad Thai)


  • 1/2 cup (20 g) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 scallions, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 small yellow or red onion, very thinly sliced, or Pickled Red Onions
  • 4 to 6 Thai basil sprigs
  • 4 to 6 mint sprigs
  • Bean sprouts
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh Vietnamese culantro or sawtooth (optional)
  • Bird’s eye chilies, sliced (optional)
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Sriracha or Sambal Oelek


In a large pot, combine the water, daikon (if using), and jujube apples and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, plus more water if needed to cover the chicken, and return to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, combine the star anise, cloves, cinnamon, black cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds and toast over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the toasted spices to a spice bag or tea strainer. (Alternatively, you can put the spices directly in the pot of broth and strain them out before serving.)

To char the onion and ginger, turn a gas stove burner to high heat or a grill to medium-high. Using tongs, carefully place the onion and ginger directly on the burner or grill grates. Allow them to cook undisturbed for a few minutes, until the bottom is charred and blackened. Use the tongs to flip the onion and gin- ger to char the other side.

Once charred, remove the onion and ginger from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Using your fingers or a knife, peel off the blackened outer layers of the onion and ginger and discard. (Alternatively, you can place the onion and ginger on a rimmed baking sheet and broil them in the oven. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!)

Add the spice bag, onion, and ginger to the broth. Simmer for 1 hour, occasionally skimming off the scum that rises to the top.

Remove the chicken from the pot and pierce through the thigh with a chopstick or fork to check if the juices run clear. If not, return it to the pot to simmer for a while more, until fully cooked. Set aside to cool.

Remove the daikon, apples, spice bag (or whole spices), onion, and ginger from the broth. Season the broth with the salt, fish sauce, and sugar, if using.

Remove the chicken meat from the bones and cut it into 1/2-inch (13 mm) pieces for easy handling with chopsticks. Alternatively, you can hand tear the chicken pieces and add them directly to the bowls.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the bok choy and blanch for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the bok choy and cut into bite-size pieces.

Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions until chewy. Rinse under cold running water and drain.

To serve, divide the noodles into each serving bowl and top with chicken meat and bok choy. Ladle in the hot broth and top with your choice of garnishes. Offer hoisin sauce and sriracha or sambal oelek at the table.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months; if freezing, make sure to leave at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) headspace in your jars.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.