even healthier vietnamese pho

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

I've very successfully followed a Keto diet in the past and am likely to do it again soon. The astronomical sugar intake of the first week of COVID-19 lockdown induced me to eat some low-carb chicken pho (with zucchini noodles, Thai basil, fresh coriander, spring onions, mung bean sprouts, a squeeze of lime, leek, kaffir lime leaves and spiced broth) from my freezer supply for guilt-free days. So the bowl pictured above is after it's been in the freezer! (with a little fresh coriander to freshen it up).

Vietnamese Chicken Pho (serves 4-6)

2 small or one large leek, chopped in to chunks or 1 large onion, cut in to wedges

1 piece fresh ginger, about 5cm, peeled and 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

2.5L water

1/3 cup fish sauce

4 teaspoons palm sugar or sugar alternative (I use stevia)

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

600g boneless skinless chicken thighs

4 zucchini to make courgetti/zoodles with a spiralizer - or noodles (you can buy them ready made at some supermarkets. That’s what I do)

Garnishes (but essential):

1 cup loose thai basil (hard to get outside of Chinatown, though Sainsburys and Waitrose usually have it)

125g mung bean sprouts

1 lime, cut into wedges

1 bunch spring onions, chopped

1/2 cup chopped coriander

Optional: a chopped red chilli

Greens – I usually use pak choi or young spinach


Heat a large stockpot over a medium heat, add the leek/onion, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom, and coconut oil. Gently cook the leeks/onions and spices for about 10 minutes.

Pour in the water, fish sauce, sugar or sugar substitute, salt, and turmeric. Then add the chicken thighs (whole) and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat if needed, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Use a sieve or slotted spoon to remove the chicken and other solid bits/spices from the broth. Reserve the chicken thighs and discard everything else. Chop the chicken in to bite-sized chunks and add back to the broth.

Chop and prep