Easy Recipe for Healthy Chicken Pho: A Step-by-Step Guide to Vietnamese Noodle Soup

This flavorful chicken pho is not only delectable but also healthy, low in fat, calories, and cholesterol. It’s an ideal choice for a post-workout meal, especially for runners, as the protein from the chicken breast aids in reducing inflammation and improving joint health.

Recipe: Aromatic Chicken Pho
Servings: 2
Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • One clove of garlic
  • One lime
  • Two chicken breasts
  • One tablespoon of chicken five-spice powder
  • Two stalks of spring onion
  • One carrot
  • One pak choi (bok choy)
  • 90 grams of rice noodles
  • 15 grams of mushroom broth paste
  • A handful of fresh mint
  • One red chilli pepper
  • One piece of ginger
  • One stalk of lemongrass

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C (200°C for fan-assisted ovens) or Gas Mark 7. Boil water in a kettle. Chop the ginger into chunks. Lightly crush the garlic, keeping it whole, and gently hit the lemongrass with the base of a pan to release its flavour. Add a bit of oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, sauté the garlic and ginger for 1 minute. Add the lemongrass, mushroom broth paste, and boiled water (refer to the ingredients list for the specific quantity). Stir the mixture and bring it to a boil, then allow it to simmer on low heat.

2. In the meantime, grate the zest from the lime and cut the lime into wedges. Combine the lime zest, chicken five-spice, and chicken breasts in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and ensure the chicken is evenly coated. Place the chicken on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast in the middle of the oven until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, which should take about 25-30 minutes.

3. Carefully pluck the mint leaves from their stems and roughly chop them, discarding the stems. Neatly trim the spring onions and slice them thinly at an angle. Using a vegetable peeler, create thin ribbons from the carrot by peeling down all sides evenly until you reach the core. Finely slice the red chilli. Trim the bok choy and slice it thinly across its width.

4. Boil water in a kettle. Place the rice noodles in a heat-resistant bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Allow the noodles to soften for 2 minutes. Then, drain them in a colander, return them to the bowl, and toss them with a dash of oil to stop them from sticking.

5. Add a drizzle of oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy and stir-fry until it is tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the broth from the heat and strain through a sieve to remove the aromatics, which can be discarded. If desired, season the broth with salt and pepper to taste.

Why is Chick Pho Good For You?

Chicken pho, a traditional Vietnamese soup, offers several health benefits that make it a great choice:

High-Quality Protein: Chicken is a great source of protein essential for muscle repair and growth. This makes chicken pho particularly beneficial for post-exercise recovery and maintaining muscle health.

Low in Fat and Calories: When prepared with lean chicken breast and a broth-based soup, chicken pho can be low in fat and calories. This makes it a good option for those wanting to manage their weight or follow a lower-calorie diet.

Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: The ingredients in chicken pho, such as fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables, contribute to various vitamins and minerals. For example, herbs like mint and cilantro provide vitamins A and C, while spices like ginger and garlic offer antioxidant properties.

Hydration and Digestion: As a soup, pho is hydrating, which is essential for overall health. The broth can also aid digestion, mainly when it includes ingredients like ginger and garlic, known for their digestive benefits.

Joint Health: The collagen and other nutrients that can be extracted from the chicken bones during broth preparation may contribute to joint health.

Immune System Boost: Many spices and herbs used in pho, such as garlic, ginger, and onions, have immune-boosting properties. These ingredients can help in fighting off colds and improving the immune response.

Customizable and Versatile: Chicken pho can be easily customized to include a variety of vegetables, increasing its nutrient density. This also allows for adjustments based on dietary needs or preferences.

Mental Comfort: Like many warm, broth-based soups, pho is often considered comfort food and can have a soothing, warming effect, which is beneficial for both physical and mental well-being.

Where Does Chicken Pho Come From?

Chicken Pho, or “Pho Ga” in Vietnamese, originates from Vietnam. Pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup staple of Vietnamese cuisine and is famous worldwide. Its origins can be traced back to the 20th century in Northern Vietnam, near Hanoi.

The exact origins of pho are a blend of cultural influences, including Vietnamese and French. It’s believed that pho is a result of the cultural interaction between Vietnam and France during the French colonial period in Vietnam. The introduction of beef bones and cuts (a key ingredient in the original beef pho, or “Pho Bo”) to the Vietnamese diet is often attributed to this French influence.

Pho was initially made with beef, but chicken pho became famous as a variation. The soup typically consists of a clear broth, rice noodles (known as “banh pho”), and meat, either chicken (Pho Ga) or beef (Pho Bo). It is flavoured with various spices, such as cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and cardamom, and is usually garnished with onions, green onions, and cilantro. Lime, bean sprouts, basil, and other fresh herbs are often served on the side.

The dish spread from the north to the central and southern regions of Vietnam, adapting to local tastes. In the mid-20th century, after the partition of Vietnam, many people from the north moved to the south, taking their pho recipes with them. This migration helped to spread pho across Vietnam and, eventually, to other parts of the world.

Today, chicken pho is enjoyed globally and is celebrated for its distinctive flavour, aromatic spices, and the comforting feeling it brings to those who want it.

Conclusion

This easy recipe for healthy chicken pho offers a delightful journey through the flavours and aromas of traditional Vietnamese cuisine, all from the comfort of your kitchen. By following this guide, you can create a nourishing and flavorful bowl of chicken pho that not only warms the soul but also provides numerous health benefits. With its rich blend of spices, fresh herbs, lean protein, and vegetables, this Vietnamese noodle soup is a perfect example of a dish that is both heartwarming and health-conscious.

Whether you’re seeking a comforting meal on a chilly day, a nutritious post-workout dish, or simply a taste of Vietnamese culinary tradition, this chicken pho recipe will satisfy you. Enjoy the simple pleasure of crafting this timeless classic and savour the delightful harmony of flavours that makes chicken pho a beloved dish worldwide.