Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) with Zoodles

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) with Zoodles

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) with Zoodles

 

If you follow Swoon Food on Instagram you might have seen we recently went to Vietnam for our honeymoon, which was amazing! When we were asked what the best thing about Vietnam was, it was hard to pin it down to just one thing.

Vietnam is steeped in culture with beautiful architectural buildings and houses, and has a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Halong bay which was absolutely breathtaking (despite the shocking amount of plastic floating in the water). The weather was lovely and hot, and even though it was rainy season it mostly only rained at night, leaving lots of time to enjoy the beaches and lush tropical foliage.

But when we thought about it we kept coming back to the food. We had so many amazing meals and the food was consistently good no matter where you ate, not to mention very friendly on the wallet if you dined at local restaurants rather than hotels. Vietnamese cuisine is very fresh, vibrant, and full of flavour, and I love how they manage to incorporate fresh herbs into almost every dish.

One of the most famous Vietnamese dishes is their Pho, pronounced “fuh”, like “duh”, although somehow I never seemed to get it right given the confused expressions I received. Pho is essentially a very flavoursome clear soup served with flat rice noodles, slices of chicken (ga) or beef (bo), spring onions, bean sprouts, fresh herbs, chilli’s and lime. It’s a dish eaten anytime of the day in Vietnam, including breakfast, and the flavour differs slightly depending on the region.

The traditional way of making Pho is quite involved. A stock or broth is made from scratch using raw chicken or beef bones which must be parboiled first in order to achieve a clear broth. Onions, ginger, fish sauce, sugar, salt, herbs & spices are then added and the broth is cooked for a couple more hours, strained, and ideally left overnight for the fat to solidify so that it can easily be removed the next day.

 

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) with Zoodles

 

I realised pho was essentially another version of bone broth which has become very popular in the western world recently. Bone broth has been hailed as a rich source of gelatine (the cooked form of collagen), and collagen makes up almost one-third of all the protein in our bodies. However, whether or not our bodies benefit from eating it as opposed to making it from scratch is another thing.

Traditionally, people would get a lot of gelatine in their diet through eating all parts of an animal, cooking in animal fat and drinking bone broths. Modern lifestyles have meant a reduction in the amount of gelatine in the western diet, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan, and unfortunately the gelatine in marshmallows and gummy bears is counteracted by all the sugar and other additives.

Feeling nostaligic, I decided to attempt my own version of pho. Wanting to avoid hours of boiling bones, I created a more time friendly recipe using a store-bought organic, free range chicken broth. When choosing store-bought broth make sure you choose a quality one made with real chicken as opposed to stock cubes, no added sugar, and low in sodium so that you can control the amount of salt added.

This pho recipe doesn’t contain any added sugar or fish sauce (which also contains sugar) and I swapped out rice noodles for zucchini noodles because they contain a heap more nutrients and fibre! Another great option if you’re looking to reduce your refined carbohydrate intake would be bean thread or glass noodles, but it’s entirely up to you which option you take. If you’re a traditionalist by all means add the fish sauce and use rice noodles.

A big batch of this chicken pho with zoodles will usually do for one dinner and a couple of lunches. Just be just be sure to reheat it well each time before serving, and always add the fresh herbs and sprouts etc to your bowl at the end to ensure they stay lovely and vibrant.

And that is my easy Chicken Pho (Ga) recipe with zoodles. I hope you enjoy this simple soup as much as we do, and please pass it on to anyone else you think will love it too. Enjoy!

 

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) with Zoodles

Makes: Approximately 6 bowls
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes

1L Organic free range chicken broth (no sugar added/low sodium)
1L filtered water
2 brown onions, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 x 10cm piece ginger, finely sliced or grated with a microplane
2 free range chicken breasts, thinly sliced
himalayan pink salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 large zucchini, spiralised into noodles (or 1 packet bean thread/glass noodles, soaked in water for 15 minutes)

To serve:

1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
2 cups bean sprouts
1 handful fresh coriander
1 handful fresh mint leaves
4 limes, cut into quarters
1 red chilli, finely sliced (optional)

Place the chicken broth, water, onions, garlic and ginger into a large pot and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the chicken slices. Add salt and pepper, I usually start with around 1 teaspoon of himalayan salt and a good grinding of pepper. When the chicken has turned white and opaque i.e. is cooked, taste the broth for flavour and adjust the salt and pepper. When you’re happy with the flavour add the zucchini or bean thread noodles and let simmer for a few minutes, before turning off the heat.

To serve, ladle the broth into serving bowls making sure each has a good portion of sliced chicken and noodles. Place a portion of bean sprouts into each bowl, followed by a sprinkling of spring onions, and top with fresh herbs. Serve the sliced chillies and lime on the side for people to add as they wish.

Store any leftover chicken pho in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Be sure to heat it to a simmer before serving again and add fresh bean sprouts, spring onions and herbs to the bowls each time.

 

Spiced Coconut and Kumara Chicken Soup

Spiced Coconut and Kumara Chicken Soup

SPICED COCONUT AND KUMARA CHICKEN SOUP

 

Ok, I know I’ve been sharing a lot of soup recipes lately, but this soup is SO good and has become such a staple that I just had to share.

With the onset of winter and colder temperatures, soup is the ideal warming meal. It’s surprisingly easy to make, so much so that I can’t believe I actually used to buy it! Simply  throw everything into a pot, allow it to simmer for 20 minutes, put it through a blender (or not in the case of this one), and it’s ready to go!

I have to admit, I used to buy the fresh, ready-made organic supermarket soups on quite a regular basis. But with many of the flavours containing wheat or dairy, the flavour choices really were limited, not to mention all the plastic packaging wastage! So this winter I made the decision to make my own soups, and this spiced coconut and kumara chicken soup is my version of my favourite bought one.

This recipe naturally lends itself to variations so feel free to play around with the ingredients. If you’re vegetarian or vegan – and still reading this post – this soup also works when made with vegetable stock and the chicken is replaced with tofu or chicpeas.

The old saying goes ‘chicken soup is good for the soul’, and as such it was often the prescription for the common cold. While it probably doesn’t cure the cold, there is some scientific evidence that chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent the miserable side-effects of a cold. Whether those properties come from the chicken itself, or the ingredients that usually go into a chicken soup such as garlic, onions and vegetables, is still unknown. But either way it’s an added bonus.

This soup contains turmeric and ginger which have some great anti-inflammatory properties of their own, as well as a good dose of garlic. Coconut milk added at the end of the recipe creates a nice fullness and additional flavour, however if coconut is not your thing then feel free to leave it out as it tastes pretty good with out it too. I’ve tried using coconut cream in this recipe but found it mellowed out the flavours way too much, however, if creamy and mild is your thing then give it a go.

This soup keeps for up to 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge and make sure you re-heat it well before serving. Enjoy this soup on its own, with your favourite seeded toast, or my favourite way is to place a large handful of baby spinach in the bottom of the bowl to get that serving of greens in. Enjoy!
 

Do you make your own soup?! What’s your favourite flavour? Tell me in the comments below!

 

SPICED COCONUT AND KUMARA CHICKEN SOUP

 

A note on chicken stock: Most stock powders are very high in salt and not much else so look for a ready to use liquid variety with as little additives as possible, and preferably low salt as you can adjust this to your taste. I use Imagine organic free range chicken broth which is low in fat, has no additives and can be found in most supermarkets. A good organic vegetable stock would also work too.
 

Spiced Coconut and Kumara Chicken Soup

Makes: approximately 6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes

1 carton of organic free range chicken broth (473ml) or stock of your choice (500ml)
4 cups water
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 piece of fresh ginger (approx 60g), grated
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 large kumara, peeled and diced
2 chicken breasts, cut into thirds
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
pepper to season

baby spinach to serve

Place the stock/broth in a large pot with the water, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and sea salt and bring to a simmer. Add the kumara followed by the chicken breasts.

Let the chicken cook through, approx 5-10 minutes, then lift out onto a plate with tongs and use a fork to shred it. Return the shredded chicken to soup and add the coconut milk and season with pepper.

To serve, place a handful of spinach in the bottom or the bowl and ladle the soup over top.

This soup will keep up to 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge, or up to 1 month in the freeze.

 

SPICED COCONUT AND KUMARA CHICKEN SOUP

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