French Friday ~ spicy Vietnamese chicken noodle soup

We’re at Week 3 of French Fridays With Dorie, where a large group of us are cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan‘s newest book, Around My French Table. (Join us!)

I loved everything about this recipe: shopping for the ingredients, prepping them, cooking the soup, and enjoying it with my family. It was easy and very delicious, and I loved the exotic aromas that filled the house as it simmered on the stove.

The bouquet garni of cilantro stems, coriander seeds, peppercorns, and star anise points (which I used as my Day 284 photo) was a simple and beautiful start.

{284/365} seasoning packet

(I substituted black peppercorns for the white: my grocery store didn’t have whole white peppercorns, and I didn’t want to drive all the way to Penzey’s.)

I added the packet to the pot, followed by the chopped onion, sliced garlic, minced ginger, and dried chiles.


Add to that the chicken broth, coconut milk, nuoc mam (fish sauce), shredded chicken, and later the lime juice and cilantro. Well, you can just imagine the explosion of flavors.

Once it’s finished and ladled it bowls, it can be topped with basil, more lime juice, some bean sprouts, and maybe a little hoisin sauce or Asian chili oil.

Can you imagine it?

Vintage bowl: Sculptured Grape by Metlox/Poppytrail/Vernon.

It’s wonderful.

Jim, Gus, and Michelle andย  loved it, too. But Max wasn’t thrilled when he heard the list of ingredients and opted instead for just a big bowl of the noodles and chicken with very little broth. Maybe I scared him off a bit when, right before I served dinner, I said, “Oh! I forgot to add more fish sauce near the end.”

His response? “What do you mean ‘more’ fish sauce? What’s fish sauce?

I give him credit for eating those noodles, though. I love that my kids will try just about anything … they rarely shy away from new tastes.

In some ways, this soup reminded me a lot of our favorite soup of all time: Ina Garten’s Mexican Chicken Soup, which is also filled with flavor and is served with different toppings.

I’m anxious to try the curried version.

Next Week: hachis parmentier.
Last Week: Gerard’s mustard tart.


20 thoughts on “French Friday ~ spicy Vietnamese chicken noodle soup

  1. Nice photos. It’s strange how people are dubious of fish sauce isn’t it? I’d never used fish sauce in a chicken recipe before but thought that even with a healthy whack of it the taste didn’t overpower or even taste like fish but rather added a lot more depth to it.

  2. Thanks so much to both of you!

    And I admit: I was first dubious of fish sauce when I first heard of it years ago … until I learned what the ingredients were. Anchovies = flavor!

  3. Love your photos! Fish sauce can be good in small doses- when I was travelling in SE Asia I never understood why all of my chicken curries tasted like fish until I took a cooking class in Thailand and they taught us about fish sauce! It adds such a great flavor when the right amount is used.

  4. I would have the same reaction to fish sauce. But your photos should be in a cookbook!

  5. Thanks so much to all of you.

    I have to say, I am am fish sauce convert. (Nathalie, you’ll have to try it!)

  6. Beautiful photos and your soup looks delicious! My family won’t touch anything with fish sauce, so I don’t tell them it’s there and then they love it. You have brave kids!

  7. Hi Ann. Your post was great. Your pictures are really fabulous. I had a really good time making this. I agree about the anchovies and the fish sauce. B

  8. Oh i loveeee ur vintage bowl!!

    LOL, about the fish sauce!!!

    Delicious pics u have !!1

  9. Beautiful images!! I’m glad you loved this recipe so! I didn’t have the chance to make this yet, but you make me eager to whip it together ๐Ÿ™‚

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