Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup {FFwD}

The third recipe Dorie Greenspan chose for the French Fridays with Dorie group seems like an odd recipe to find in a French cookbook — Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. However, as Dorie explains, France has colonial ties to Vietnam, and Vietnamese restaurants are common throughout France. So, it should not come as a surprise that some Vietnamese dishes have found their way into French kitchens.

This recipe is a combination of two traditional Vietnamese soups: pho ga and la sa ga. I’ve never had either of these soups, but this recipe does remind me of one of my favorite dishes — Thai chicken coconut soup.

The recipe begins with a bouquet garni tied up with star anise, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, and cilantro stems. This is added to a pot with onion, garlic, fresh ginger, red chiles, chicken broth, and coconut milk. This mixture is seasoned with fish sauce, brown sugar, and salt, then brought to a boil.

Once the broth boiled, I lowered it to a simmer and added the chicken breasts. I covered the pot and poached the chicken for about 15 minutes.

After the chicken was cooked, I removed it from the pot and let it cool for a few minutes before shredding it by hand. While the chicken was cooling, I cooked and drained the noodles.

I then returned the broth to a boil and added the chicken and noodles to the pot. When everything was heated through, I stirred in cilantro and lime juice, adjusted the seasonings, and served the soup for dinner with a salad.

I topped my bowl with a few splashes of chili oil. I had omitted the red chiles from the recipe at the beginning, as I was serving the soup for dinner and my daughters don’t like things that are too spicy.

This soup was delicious. Spicy, slightly sweet from the coconut milk, and full of flavor. As noted above, it reminded me of Thai chicken coconut soup, which I order almost every time we get Thai food.

Even though there were quite a few ingredients in this recipe, it was really simple to assemble, and it was ready to serve in about 30 minutes, making it a perfect light dinner for any night of the week.


  1. Anne Marie said,

    October 17, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    We really enjoyed this one. Quite easy too. I have been away on a women’s retreat without computer so missed Firday.

    I will be making this one again.

  2. Renee said,

    October 15, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I agree that it was simple to assemble even though there were a lot of ingredients. I think I might omit the anise next time and see if that was the flavor I wasn’t wild about. I’ll have to add the chili oil next time. I know my husband would love that!

    • gaaarp said,

      October 16, 2010 at 10:38 am

      I actually couldn’t find the star anise (I have some now), so I used anise seed. I didn’t notice too strong a flavor from it. The chili oil is a great addition. You get the overall heat from it, and when you get a nice spoonful of it, you get that extra “Wow”.

  3. Kayte said,

    October 15, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Confession: I have never had official Thai food or been to a Thai restaurant. Mark never votes “yes” on it for some reason, so I always defer…someday, though, I am going to get brave and venture in on my own. This soup of yours looks really great. Just in time for soup weather, too.

    • gaaarp said,

      October 16, 2010 at 10:43 am

      Find a good Thai restaurant and then tell Mark that since he won’t go there with you, he can pick up take out for you from the Thai restaurant and for himself from somewhere else. We do “choose your own restaurant” every now and then when we want take out but can’t settle on what we want.

      When we lived in South Bend, they had a service called “Dine In” that would pick up your orders from different restaurants and deliver it. It was great. Unfortunately, I was in law school at the time and we were too poor to take advantage of it very often.

  4. Margaret said,

    October 15, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Looks wonderful. I wanna make this. IF I can find the spices. None to be found here in Podunk USA!!

    Glad to hear it was good.

    • gaaarp said,

      October 16, 2010 at 10:44 am

      You can probably find adequate substitutions for most of the spices you have trouble finding. If you’ve never had the actual soup, you won’t know if it’s authentic, so as long as it tastes good, no one will be the wiser!

  5. Tia said,

    October 15, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Your soup looks hearty, tasty, fresh and delicious!

  6. Tia said,

    October 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    yours looks super creamy. mmm.

  7. Natashya said,

    October 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Mmm, delicious! I love the addition of the chili oil. ☺

  8. October 15, 2010 at 7:40 am

    That looks so yummy and would be perfect today!

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