This healthy Vietnamese Chicken Pho with Zoodles is gluten free, paleo, and soooo tantalizing!
Vietnamese cuisine is one of our family’s absolute favorite things to eat.
After moving away from a city with a large Vietnamese population and great Vietnamese restaurants, we were hard-pressed to find a good bowl of pho anywhere in our new small mountain town.
Needless to say, I started cooking Vietnamese dishes at home.
After several years of recreating noodle dishes, Bahn Mi sandwiches, and soups, we finally discovered a new pho shop in town.
Vietnamese Pho is a spiced broth and noodle soup, made with various thinly sliced meats, and loaded with fresh garnishes like mung bean sprouts, basil leaves, and jalapeno slices. The broth is made with rich earthy spices like cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom so it offers a truly unique flavor.
When we eat pho at a restaurant I usually go with beef pho, or even shaved meatball. However at home, I like to make pho with chicken thighs to create a really fabulous brothy soup base.
I also like to clean this already healthy soup up even more by eliminating the noodles and using “zoodles” AKA zucchini zoodles instead. This small change makes this recipe gluten free and paleo-friendly!
Today’s Vietnamese Chicken Pho with Zoodles is just about the best tasting healthy soup recipe you’ll ever try, if I do say so myself.
It’s bold, well balanced, and bursting with fresh ingredients. The zoodles soften in the broth giving them the texture of pasta, so you really truly don’t even miss the carbs.
In fact, the first time I made Vietnamese Chicken Pho with Zoodles instead of traditional rice noodles, my boys sneered at me… Until they tasted it.
After devouring a couple bowls each, they admitted they wouldn’t have noticed the zoodles had I not told them about the change.
Vietnamese Chicken Pho with Zoodles is on my shortlist of healthy meals my family will always be happy to see on the dinner table.
I bet yours will feel the same!
Vietnamese Chicken Pho with Zoodles
- 1 large onion, cut into wedges
- 1 piece fresh ginger (2 inches) cut into slices
- 3 garlic cloves, cracked
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole star anise
- 8-10 whole cloves
- 4 cardamom pods, cracked
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 quarts water
- 1/3 cup fish sauce (look for a gluten-free brand)
- 4 teaspoons palm sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 4 zucchini
- 1 cup loose thai basil
- 5 ounces mung bean sprouts
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- 1-2 jalapeños, sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Place a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion wedges, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom, and coconut oil. Saute the onions and spices for about 10 minutes, stirring to brown the onions on all sides.
- Pour in the water, fish sauce, sugar, salt, and turmeric. Then add the chicken thighs and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat if needed, and simmer for 30 minutes. (P.S. Fish sauce smells like moldy feet while cooking, but tastes amazing! Don't worry about the aroma, and don't skip it.)
- Use a skimmer to pull all the chicken, onions, and spices out of the broth. Reserve the chicken thighs and discard everything else. Chop the chicken thighs into small pieces and add back to the broth.
Meanwhile, use a spiralizer to cut the zucchini into noodles. Chop and prep all other garnishes.
- When ready to serve, place a handful of "zoodles" into each bowl. Ladle the chicken pho soup into each bowl. Then let each person garnish their own bowl with basil, sprouts, lime, scallions, jalapeños, and cilantro.
NOTE: We usually set out chili-garlic sauce to spice up our bowl of pho, but the jalapeños will definitely do the trick!