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
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 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, greens, lime, spring onions, coriander and chillies, if using.. I usually chuck everything in and freeze it in portions, then refresh it with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime when I have it.