This simple recipe is a variation on Pho, a classic Vietnamese soup flavored with fragrant spices and garnished with fresh herbs.
While Pho is commonly served with thinly sliced beef or shredded chicken, this version features delicate chicken meatballs simmered in chicken broth flavored with star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fresh ginger, garlic and lime.
Ladled over thin rice noodles and garnished with chopped scallions, fresh cilantro and lime wedges, this soup is a great choice for lunch or a light dinner.
For another Asian-inspired soup recipe be sure to check out our Spicy Shrimp and Ramen Soup!Print
Vietnamese Style Meatball Noodle Soup
Tender chicken meatballs, thin rice noodles and broth flavored with classic Vietnamese soup ingredients like star anise, ginger and lime combine to make this light yet satisfying main dish soup.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- 6 cups low-sodium broth
- 3 whole star anise
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1–1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 to 5 scallions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 8 ounces fine rice noodles
- 4 lime wedges
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 2 tablespoons panko crumbs (for gluten-free use crushed Rice Chex)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Combine the chicken broth, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, fish sauce, sriracha and lime juice in a stockpot over medium heat.
- Slice the ginger into 1/4-inch thick pieces and smash them gently with the flat side of a knife. Do the same with the garlic, add both to the broth and bring it to a slow simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
- While the broth simmers, combine the ground chicken, panko, cornstarch, fish sauce, lime juice and garlic in a mixing bowl.
- Form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs and set aside. Tip: This mixture is very sticky. Wet your hands in cool water to make rolling the meatballs easier.
- Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Allow to soak until soft and pliable, 10 to 12 minutes, drain and divide between four serving bowls (see notes).
- Using a large slotted spoon, remove the spices, ginger and garlic from the broth and turn up the heat to bring it to a rapid simmer.
- Begin adding meatballs, a few at a time, letting each batch cook for about 1 minute before adding more.
- Continue simmering until the meatballs are cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes.
- To finish, top each bowl of noodles with a portion of the scallions and cilantro. Ladle the meatballs and broth over top. Add a lime wedge and serve immediately.
Fine rice noodles will usually soften nicely in hot water, but be sure to check the package on your noodles as directions vary.