Vietnamese Noodle Stew (Pho) – Slow Cooker

Photo Mar 21, 8 03 20 PM

A squeeze of lime just before eating tastes amazing.

Pho is a classic Vietnamese street food, much the same way Pad Thai is to Thai cuisine or fried rice is to Chinese cuisine. This dish calls for some ingredients that you may not use for any other recipe, so we’ve included some substitutions. Also – the recipe instructs you to add a lot of whole spices to simmer for hours, then remove at the end. Using a slotted spoon works best. The following recipe does make a lot of pho – which can be frozen and reheated wonderfully on cold winter days. This is almost like the Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup, but the fresh herbs and squeeze of lime just before serving takes it to a new level.

Pho is naturally gluten-free if you use rice noodles (be sure to check the box). You can make this vegetarian/vegan by removing the chicken, using vegetable broth, and replacing the fish sauce with soy sauce. Adapted from Slow-Cooker Chicken Pho recipe on

8 cups low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth (two 32-ounce boxes)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce    << Um, fish sauce?
5 whole star anise (or 2 1/2 tsp of regular anise seed)
6 whole cloves
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cinnamon stick
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), halved
6 ounces wide rice noodles (like pad thai noodles)
6 cups chopped bok choy (or leeks or cabbage)
2 cups mung bean sprouts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 fresh Thai chile or serrano, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

*Use organic ingredients wherever possible.

  1. Combine broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, star anise, cloves, ginger and cinnamon stick in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add chicken breasts, meat-side down. Cover and cook on High for 3 hours (or on Low for 6 hours).
  2. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Remove spices and discard. Add noodles and bok choy to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes.
  3. Shred with two forks. When the noodles are tender, stir in the shredded chicken. Serve bowls of soup with bean sprouts, basil, mint, cilantro, sliced chile and lime wedges on the side so everyone can add their own toppings.