Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Paula Shoyer
Vietnamese Noodle Soup
photo: Bill Milne

This is my kosher version of Vietnamese pho soup. I basically took my favorite chicken soup recipe and added ginger and cilantro stems during the cooking, and then added other Asian ingredients after the soup was strained. You can use your own favorite chicken soup recipe and then simply add the other ingredients to create an Asian-flavored broth. I have served this soup for a weeknight dinner. I like rice noodles, but my twins prefer wheat udon noodles.

This soup may be made 3 days in advance or frozen.

Cook Time: 2h 30min
1 whole chicken, cut into quarters or 8 pieces
2 leeks, rinsed and light green and white parts cut into quarters (see Tip below)
3 stalks celery, halved
1 fennel bulb, halved
1 large onion, quartered
1 large turnip, peeled and cut into quarters
3 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces (about 2 ounces [60g])
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
12 cups water
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bunch cilantro leaves and stems, divided, leaves reserved for garnish
1/3 cup (80ml) tamari soy sauce
4 teaspoons dark miso paste
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
Hot chili sauce of your choice (optional)
1½ cups (135g) broccoli florets
1 8-ounce package (225-g) rice noodles or other noodles
6 scallions, ends trimmed, sliced
1 red Thai chili, thinly sliced
Hot chili sauce of your choice (optional)
Cutting board, knife, colander, vegetable peeler, measuring cups and spoons, large saucepan or soup pot, large spoon, medium saucepan, fork, slotted spoon, large sieve, small bowl, tongs, ladle

Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours

• To make the soup, place the chicken pieces into a large saucepan or soup pot. Add the leeks, celery, fennel, onions, turnips, carrots, ginger, garlic, and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Use a large spoon to skim the dirty foam off the top of the soup. Add the black peppercorns, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and let the soup simmer, checking after 5 minutes and skimming off any additional foam Add the cilantro stems, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.

• Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, and then add the broccoli. Cook it for 2 minutes, or until it is fork-tender, and then use a slotted spoon to scoop out the broccoli and transfer it to a bowl. Bring the water to a boil again. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions and drain well.

• When the soup is done, let it cool. Strain the soup through a large sieve, reserving the carrots to slice and later return to the soup when reheating it prior to serving. Reserve the chicken pieces separately.

• Add the soy sauce to the soup. Put 4 tablespoons of the soup into a small bowl and add the miso paste and ground ginger. Stir to dissolve the miso and ginger into the soup, and then return the mixture to the pot. Add pepper to taste and stir the soup. If your family likes spice, add some hot sauce to the soup.

• To serve, shred several pieces of the reserved chicken, cut the carrots on the diagonal into 1-inch (2.5-cm) chunks, and either reheat them separately or add them to the soup. Reheat the broccoli. Reheat the soup until it is very hot. Using tongs, place some noodles into each bowl. Ladle the soup over the noodles. Add some scallions, shredded chicken, cilantro, and sliced red chili to each bowl, or make a buffet of garnishes for your family or guests to create their own combinations. Serve some hot chili sauce alongside for anyone who wants the extra kick.

Tip on Cleaning Leeks

Trim the end off the white part, cut off the dark green part, and discard both. Slice the leek lengthwise and discard the two outermost layers. Slice through another layer or two, open them, and rinse off, checking for sand. If you find any, cut into the next layer and rinse it well. Continue until no sand remains.

Cooking for 1 to 2 people or for the Elderly

Singles have often told me that they are overwhelmed by recipes that yield way more food than they could eat alone over several days. Those of us with older parents know that appetites decrease dramatically for people over age 85. For this reason, when my recipes can be made in advance and frozen, I have included freezing instructions. Buy small plastic containers or use freezer bags and divide the dish into the portion size that suits you or the people you will be serving. Remove the con­tainers from the freezer the night before you plan to serve the food and place in the fridge to thaw. If you are making something fresh, like a salad, prepare the full recipe of the dressing but only half the vegetables, or less. Serve what you need and dress only that portion. Save the remaining dressing for another meal.


Reprinted with permission from The Healthy Jewish Kitchen © 2017 by Paula Shoyer, Sterling Epicure. Photography by Bill Milne.