Homemade Pho

It's hard to believe that fall is here!  Although the days are still warm, for the most part, there is a noticeable difference in the air.  One of the things I love most about living on the east coast is having four seasons, and like so many, fall is definitely my favorite time of year.  Pumpkin flavor seems to top many peoples palates as the days begin to cool, but for me, it's all about soup, stew, and hearty warm meals.

So...hearty and Pho may not go together for many people, but for those of you who are Pho lovers, I think you can understand why I love Pho in the winter (I actually can eat this year round).  I am so thankful for the Pho truck that visits my office during the colder months, as well as the nearby Vietnamese restaurant that I can grab my co-worker and head off to for a soothing warm lunch, but I am definitely lacking a great place for Pho close to my home.  Part of me loves that delicious Pho is not convenient to my home - it makes it a special treat, but part of me knows that when I want Pho, I want Pho now!

After doing a little research and trying my hand a making my own Pho, I think I've come up with a great homemade recipe.  Let me stress, this is just a great substitute and not the real thing.  What makes Pho so incredibly delicious is the broth and authentic broth takes a lot of time to make and ingredients I don't keep stocked in my kitchen at all times.  That said, the flavor of this homemade Pho definitely scratches my itch for Pho when it's not close enough to go out for.


  • 5 cups beef broth (4 cups for your soup broth, 1 cup for cooking your chicken)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, cut in to large pieces (I cut mine in to 4 large pieces)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 whole star anise (if you like anise flavor, add another half or whole piece)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 thumb length size knob of ginger (roughly 1 ½ - 2 inches), sliced into coins
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 package pho rice noodles
  • 1 chicken breast, sliced very thinly *
  • Fresh basil and cilantro, bean sprouts, lime wedges, slicedgreen onion, and sliced jalapenos to garnish your soup with.

In a large pot stir together 4 cups of broth, 2 cups of water, onion, garlic, star anise, cloves, ginger, cinnamon stick, fish sauce, soy sauce, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

While broth is simmering:

  • Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Immediately drain hot water from the noodles, and rinse with cold water to prevent over cooking and mushy noodles. Drain cold water and set aside.
  • Prep your soup garnishes
  • Cut chicken breast in to thin slices

When you Pho broth is just about finished, bring 1 cup of plain beef broth (you can add water if you need more liquid) to a boil in a small pot.  Once boiling add your thinly sliced chicken piece by piece to cook.  Chicken will be cooked through in 3-5 minutes.**

When your chicken is cooked and you are ready to serve up your Pho, fill your soup bowls halfway full with your rice noodles (it’s ok if your noodles are cold, the hot broth will warm them right up.)

When you are ready to serve the soup, fill the serving bowls about halfway full with noodles. Then cover with the hot broth, and immediately stir in the steak so that it cooks. Top with your desired garnishes. Add your cooked chicken and the garnishes you like to your soup. Stir and enjoy!

* Chicken in beef broth, what?!  YES!  This is the way I have had it and it is surprisingly delicious!

** Many recipes call for raw, thinly sliced beef to added to your bowl right before you ladle your finished broth over the rice noodles.  Because I like chicken as my protein (I, personally, would also use this technique if I were making it with beef) and I’m a little neurotic about food poisoning, I keep my raw chicken completely separate from everything, and cook it in plain beef broth that I discard once my chicken has cooked completely.