Pho Ga (Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup)

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese noodle dish.  It is served in a bowl of rice noodles with thin cuts of beef, tendon, tripe, meatballs, chicken, or other meats.  Usually served with a separate plate of mint, Thai basil, bean sprouts, slices of lime, and sliced jalapeno peppers.  You will also find hoisin sauce and Sriracha for kicking up the flavors.


  • 1 stewing hen, about 5 pounds
  • 2 lbs. chicken bones or chicken necks
  • 4 qt. cold water
  • 1 oz. fresh ginger, crushed
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1/2 pound rice vermicelli (bun)
  • 1 whole cooked chicken breast (2 halves), thinly sliced
  • 1 onion sliced in rings
  • 4 to 8 fresh Thai basil sprigs, for garnishing soup
  • 4 fresh mint sprigs, for garnishing soup
  • 2 c. fresh bean sprouts, for garnishing soup
  • 2 limes cut into wedges, for garnishing soup
  • 2 to 3 sliced fresh jalapeno, Serrano, or Thai chili peppers, for garnishing soup
  • Sriracha chili sauce, for serving
  • Hoisin sauce, for serving


Cut the hen into 8 pieces and discard any excess fat. Rinse chicken bones and necks with cold water and place in a stockpot. Add the water and ginger and bring to a boil. Skim any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 3 hours; do not allow the liquid to boil to ensure a clear broth.

Remove and discard the hen and bones. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve or chinois lined with cheesecloth. Return the broth to a large soup pot and continue to simmer until reduced to a volume of 2 1/2 or 3 quarts. Season with salt, to taste, and keep hot while you assemble the remaining ingredients.

Prepare the rice vermicelli according to package directions. Once done, transfer to a colander and drain well. Rinse well under cold running water. (The noodles may be prepared up to this point 2 hours ahead of serving.  You can also cook the noodles directly in the broth with sliced onions.)

When ready to serve the soups, for each serving ladle 2 cups of the hot broth into a large soup bowl. Quickly dip the cooked noodles in the remaining hot broth to rewarm, and then place a handful of noodles in each bowl. Divide the sliced chicken breast between the bowls, laying the slices over the top of the noodles. Serve the soup immediately, with the basil, mint, bean sprouts, lime wedges and jalapeno peppers in baskets on the table for each person to garnish their own soup, as desired. Add Sriracha and Hoisin sauce, to taste, if desired.

(NOTE-You can shortcut this recipe by using Pho bouillon found at Asian markets and simply adding cooked chicken pieces to the broth.  You can also experiment with beef versions.)