• Serves: 2
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 5 minutes + 2 hours simmering
  • Difficulty: medium

I love this soup for its colourful and comforting simplicity. Gorgeous flavoursome broth, satisfyingly squidgy noodles, rich chicken meat, then the fresh crunch of barely-cooked veg, spring onions and coriander.

This is part 3 of a series on how to turn one roast chicken into 3 delicious meals! Click here for Part 1 – Japanese-Style Roast Chicken with Edamame Bean Rice and Part 2 – Chicken Salad with Wild Rice and Pomelo

Chicken soup. That curer of all ills. What is it about the experience of sipping a bowl of chicken broth that is so therapeutic? Really, though, who cares when it’’s so delicious?

It’s even more satisfying when you make it yourself, oh-so-frugally from the carcass of the chicken you roasted a few days ago. Homemade stock is also on another plane entirely to the kind you can buy in a cube, and it’’s so easy to produce. Simply chuck the chicken bones in a pan with some cheap vegetables and flavourings, and let it simmer away for a couple of hours. It’ll also take a lot less salt!

You can, of course, use homemade chicken stock in a variety of other recipes, but my absolute go-to recipe for chicken stock is this wonderful Vietnamese-style soup. It’’s based on what is essentially the ‘national dish’ of Vietnam: pho (pronounced a bit like ‘fur’). You can get it everywhere there; it’’s the ultimate fast food, and it’s healthiness and deliciousness puts our burger and kebab chains to shame.

This is my version, which –I have to say –tastes almost exactly like the bowls I enjoyed day after day in Vietnam. Instead of making a standard chicken stock with English winter veg, you use Asian aromatics: ginger, star anise, lemongrass, fish sauce, coriander, black peppercorns and chilli.

This is probably unlike any chicken soup you’’ve tried before, but I can practically guarantee it’’ll become a go-to recipe for days when you’’re feeling tired, under the weather, or just in need of some comfort. It’’s lovely and filling because of the chicken and broth, but actually remarkably low in calories, particularly if you just use the breast meat. I often eat this for dinner for a few days if I’’ve overindulged; it makes me feel fantastic again in no time!


here's what you'll need...

For the stock:

  • Chicken carcass(es)
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, bruised
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped (you can leave the skin on)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (you can leave the skin on)
  • bunch of coriander roots
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • Water

chicken soup ingredients part one

For the soup:

  • 160g thick, flat rice noodles
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • Couple of handfuls of leftover roast chicken, shredded
  • 2 heads of pak choi or choi sum, or a quarter of a green cabbage, roughly sliced or shredded
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, julienned
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Fish sauce and salt, to taste
  • Lime wedges, to serve

chicken soup ingredients part two



Keep a vat of chicken stock in your fridge or freezer (stock freezes very well in a plastic tub or freezer bag), some noodles in your store cupboard, and a stash of greens in the fridge, and you have (almost) instant comfort at your fingertips.

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here's how it's done...

  • 1

    First, make the stock. Put all the ingredients in a large lidded saucepan or stock pot, then cover with water.

    chicken soup step 1

  • 2

    Bring to the boil then cover and turn down to a very slight simmer. Cook for 2 hours, then strain the stock into a large bowl or jug. You will need 1 litre for the soup; any left over can be kept in the fridge for a week, or frozen.

    chicken soup step 2

  • 3

    To make the soup, first cook the rice noodles for 2 minutes in simmering water, then drain, rinse in cold water and drain again.

    chicken soup step 4

  • 4

    Divide between two large soup bowls. Divide the spring onions and coriander between the bowls too. Bring 1 litre stock to the boil in a saucepan, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Add the greens and carrots and cook for a couple of minutes until tender but still with a little bite, then add the chicken just to warm through.

    chicken soup step 3

  • 5

    Turn off the heat, squeeze in the lime juice and taste: it will probably need more fish sauce or salt, so add according to your preferences. Pour the stock, chicken and vegetables over the noodles in the two bowls, and serve immediately, with more lime to squeeze over.

    chicken soup step 5

  • 6

    You can add whatever veg you like to this;– beansprouts are traditional in the Vietnamese version, or you could use cabbage or chard instead of the Asian greens. And, if you want to swap the rice noodles for egg noodles, go ahead: I’m not a pho purist!

    chicken soup post image 3

    Do give this superlative soup a try; it’’s the perfect finale to your frugal chicken-cooking extravaganza!


By Elly McCausland on 26.03.14

Guest Contributor

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