I’ve wanted to lighten things up a bit this week, so I decided to try the Chicken Pho recipe out of my new favorite cookbook, Paleo By Season. Pho (actually pronounced “Fuh”) is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, herbs and meat. I’ve seen it served with noodles, but since I’m trying to cut my carbohydrates, this recipe doesn’t include them.
The key to this dish is the delicious broth. I’m not asking you to make your own “stock” but take the time to make the pho broth below. The delicate flavors add a depth that you will surely miss if you skip that step. Plus, once the broth is prepared, this meal only takes 10 more minutes before it’s ready to serve.
Trying out a new recipe also gave me the chance to buy some five-spice powder, which is a blend of anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppers and fennel seeds. This spice combination is commonly used in Asian preparation, especially in Chinese cuisine. I’ve seen it referenced in recipes before and luckily it’s readily available at most grocery stores.
I used fresh Swiss chard (a leafy relative of spinach) in this perfect Paleo dish because it was on sale. You can use spinach or even kale, but due to kale’s toughness, you need to cook it longer. I think the Swiss chard is perfect because its flavor and texture are similar to that of bok choy.
I’m also using leftover pulled chicken from the night before. Although it didn’t meet my “Meatless Monday” goal, its simplicity is a nice way to start off the week. This soup makes me feel like I’m reversing some of my previous weekend fun (I’m glad you can’t see my recycling bin!), and it encourages me to eat light to feel light.
1 small yellow onion with only the outer skin removed, cut in half
1 (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
8 cups chicken broth
Broil onion and ginger in either the oven, grill or toaster oven for 20 minutes, slightly charring them. You want to make sure the outside of the onion and ginger turn brown. Place them with the halved jalapeno and five-spice powder in a pot and cover with the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the onion, jalapeno and ginger from the broth and discard. Use the broth immediately or cover for later.
Pho broth (see above)
1-1/2 to 2 cups pulled chicken
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
1 cup white or button mushrooms, quartered
2 cups Swiss chard, spine removed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 small jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
3 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges
Bring pho broth to a simmer over medium heat. Once it’s at a gentle simmer, add the carrots, radishes, mushrooms, and Swiss chard. Cook for 8 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil. Divide chicken among 4 bowls and top with broth and vegetables. Squeeze a wedge of lime over each bowl and use garnishes of your choice.