Cast Iron

Turkey Pho

November 24, 2009
6 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 22 minutes
  • Makes 2 big bowls of soup
Author Notes

Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup typically made with beef. It can also be made with chicken (which is known as pho ga), seafood, or in this case, turkey (definitely not traditional!). Apart from toasting the spices (very important...don't skip this step), this is very simple to make, particularly if you use store-bought chicken stock. It's a little austere with just the kale (perfect for the days after Thanksgiving as far as I'm concerned), and you are welcome to add additional vegetables. Traditional pho uses rice noodles but I prefer it with cellophane (bean thread) noodles. This recipe was inspired by Jaden Hair's recipe for Chicken Pho. - WinnieAB —WinnieAb

Test Kitchen Notes

Anyone who knows pho knows that it's all about the broth. WinnieAb uses turkey leftovers (meat and stock, which should really be homemade for this) to coax the most out of this soup. She also adds some warm spices -- coriander, cloves, star anise and cinnamon -- which she toasts beforehand to amp up the broth. Chopped kale is an unusual addition that adds some welcome heft -- we preferred 1 cup rather than 2. As with any pho, don't forget to squeeze in some fresh lime juice just before eating -- it provides a welcome hit of acid that really wakes up the dish. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Toast the spices
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Make the turkey pho
  • 1 quart homemade turkey stock (or homemade or store-bought chicken stock)
  • 1 bunch green onions (green top parts only) chopped
  • 1 3-inch chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 cups kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 pound leftover turkey breast, shredded
  • 1 bunch (approx. 2 oz.) cellophane/bean thread noodles (or enough flat dried rice noodles to serve 2)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped- for garnish (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions (white parts only), minced- for garnish (optional)
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 dash Sriracha chili sauce to taste
  1. Toast the spices
  2. Heat a cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon stick and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices into a bowl to avoid burning them and set aside.
  1. Make the turkey pho
  2. In a large pot, add the toasted spices and all ingredients from stock through fish sauce and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  4. Taste the broth and add more sugar or fish sauce, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Add the kale and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the shredded turkey and the cellophane noodles. Allow to sit for a few minutes while the noodles soften.
  6. Ladle the broth into bowls. Divide the kale, shredded turkey and the noodles evenly into each bowl.
  7. Sprinkle on the garnishes and add sriracha to taste. Squeeze lime juice to taste over the top of your bowl before eating.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alaina Cillis
    Alaina Cillis
  • Allison Klein
    Allison Klein
  • Burnt Offerings
    Burnt Offerings
  • Lisa Roberts
    Lisa Roberts
  • Sarahlmorford
I grew up in a restaurant family (my parents owned the now closed Quilted Giraffe in NYC) and I've always loved to cook. My interest in the connection between food and health led me to pursue a graduate degree in naturopathic medicine. I don't practice medicine anymore; I have a blog called Healthy Green Kitchen that I started in May of 2009 and I wrote a book called One Simple Change that will be published in January, 2014. I live in upstate New York with my family and many pets.

84 Reviews

Phoebe I. December 10, 2017
I had never tried anything like this. Make all my own soups from homemade stock. I also didn’t have coriander seeds, toasted the ground with the others. Funny how our tastes are all different, I ended up adding more of the spices to the broth. ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS, especially the smells. Didn’t have sriracha so threw in some chili pepper flakes. GREAT use for my veggies I canned or froze this summer. Next batch will be with shrimp. I recommend, folks, do cook your noodles first, and add slowly. I freeze cooked noodles for other uses all the time. Add them in last. Love everyone’s comments. This is SUCH an easy wholesome meal!!,
Alaina C. October 14, 2016
Mimi H. December 3, 2015
I used smoked turkey and it was wonderful. Also I only had somen noodles and they were fine.
Mimi H. December 3, 2015
And I cannot eat kale so spinach had to do but again, wonderful!
Jeannie I. December 3, 2015
Delicious! What a terrific alternative to the usual left-over turkey soup! This recipe allows itself to be modified easily. We like heat, so added red pepper. We needed more body (not necessarily from more fish sauce or brown sugar). I had fresh mint, which I chopped up with the cilantro and scallions. Also cooked the noodles separately and added them at the end. Lime and sriacha-BAM! A fantastic recipe! Thank you!
Michel B. May 14, 2015
I forgot to mention that lime wedges are also a necessity on the veggie-add-on platter, and both sriracha and hoisin sauce can be used as condiments to get the wonderful underlying heat-and-sweet structure to pho. Again, the whole joy of pho is in the partial "do it yourself" quality of the dish. It is a meal in itself when done properly, and can be accompanied by those wonderful Viet-style Spring Rolls (with peanut sauce, of course, if you want a Thai component in your meal).
Michel B. May 14, 2015
I have no idea who WinnieAb is or the extent of her knowledge of pho and other Viet dishes, but what she has here is decidedly NOT pho. Not only does she add spices that the Vietnamese would abhor, but she forgets that pho includes all sorts of add-ins, none of which are kale: thai basil, jalapenos, green leaf lettuce, bean sprouts--just to name a few. The cilantro, like all the other veggie add-ins, is presented on a plate in its fulness, to be torn/shredded by hand and added to taste. It is not a garnish but an integral part of the soup. For heaven's sake, if you are going to call it pho, then at least make it right. And by the way, one of the better bases to use for the broth is a good tom yom paste. But maybe that is a little too authentic for you, WinneAb.
lastnightsdinner May 15, 2015
WinnieAB is a longstanding, well-respected, and beloved member of this community. What you failed to see through your pedantic haze, is that she at no time in her recipe headnotes refers to this recipe as an "authentic" pho. What this recipe is, is a DELICIOUS dish, very much in the spirit of and inspired by "traditional" pho, and one which many cooks here have tried and loved. I suspect there are even some cooks who were unfamiliar with pho, and who after trying this recipe, decided to seek out a more authentic version to further their knowledge of the dish. This site has never been about who can produce the most authentic recipe for a dish; it's about sharing delicious food. Food52 is also very much about the community that has formed here, and the respect we have for one another as cooks. Spirited discussion is great; rudeness is not. You might want to take your phosplaining elsewhere.
Patricia November 13, 2015
Good for you @lastnightsdinner I could not agree more with the response and spirit of the community at Food 52. I am actually using what I guess is a faux Pho recipe in a soup contest this week. What I love about the recipes is that they do inspire you to step outside of what you normally do and explore. food 52 is my go to blog for ideas and the community makes the experience.
Allison K. November 30, 2014
I made this tonight and after simmering the broth with the aromatics, it reduced by nearly half. After I added the noodles, I basically was left with no soup to slurp, just some very flavorful noodles. Tasty, but not what I expected. Has anyone else experience this?
Marsha G. December 2, 2014
This happened to me, too. I had to add nearly 2 cups of hot water so I would have some broth in the finished product. It watered down my broth, but since it had a licorice aftertaste anyway (too much star anise in the original recipe), the added water seemed to help the taste. If I were to make this again, I would double the stock or the broth from the beginning.
Risa N. January 26, 2015
The best way I've found to get around the noodle thing is to cook/soak them in a separate pot of boiling hot water until they are soft, then you rinse them off in a colander so the stick starch doesn't make them clump. :) Then you can add them to the soup and serve, or dish out the noodles first and add the broth, either way. I also kept a lid on the broth while it simmered to keep the volume up.
KM January 1, 2017
I did soak the noodles separately and still ended up having the broth reduce too much, so I had to add water. It still tasted great. I might cover it. While simmering next time?
Jes A. September 19, 2014
made this tonight with chicken because I LOVE PHO and had no Thanksgiving leftovers.
I used the bean thread noodles and I didn't enjoy those as much as I would have rice noodles.
all the flavors are there and I just need to figure out which ones to strengthen. I am SO excited to have a PHO recipe, you have no idea!
Tarragon March 6, 2014
I loved this recipe! I used the last of my turkey stock from Thanksgiving. I had no leftover turkey so I poached 2 turkey tenderloins in the pho, before I added the kale. I did not have whole coriander seeds, so I used ground coriander; I toasted it along with the other (whole) spices. And I used rice noodles since I already had them. Thank you so much, will make this again!
Burnt O. February 14, 2014
I have had my eye on this recipe for ages. Snowed in, and decided to use up the last of the turkey stock and meat from Thanksgiving that were in the deep freeze. I put the spices in a bouquet garni bag to make them easier to fish out later. SO AMAZING. Thanks for a bright spot in an otherwise snowy weekend!
Lessardi February 10, 2014
Oh my: this is SO good!
mpm6228 February 9, 2014
This was really delicious. But I was lucky because my husband has just made fresh turkey broth from turkey soup bones, and shredded the meat from the necks and backs, so the rest was easy. Added bean sprouts as a garnish since I had it. I'll definitely make this again. Thanks for a simple good recipe.
Lisa R. December 6, 2013
Can't wait to try this one! I make Turkey soup from our turkey, but I'm really excited to try something different.
Sarahlmorford December 2, 2013
I made this with leftover bone broth I had on hand since I had used all of my turkey broth for gravy. Delicious! Easy. Flavorful. Original. My husband and I just got back from our honeymoon in Vietnam and we were missing these flavors. Thank you for this easy and wonderful technique and this perfect use of leftovers!
Pat E. November 30, 2013
Yum! Just made this with turkey carcass broth.! We had to call it Faux Pho...(actually Phee Phi Faux Pho....because drinking wine had been involved) not quite enough corriander...all I had was rice sticks...which worked fine....and no cilantro (which seems out of place with Pho anyway)...and a nice crop of shiso (even more out of place but it worked!!!)...some mint and basil as thats what we get at out local Pho place....and a big squirt of siracha... and It was to die for!
Carole November 29, 2013
I made stock from yesterday's turkey carcass and then followed your recipe for tonight's dinner. Son-in-law proclaimed it the most original use of turkey leftovers he's ever had. Delicious and aromatic; thank you for a lovely recipe that will be repeated many times during the year, not just after Thanksgiving!
Maria M. November 6, 2013
I made this and it was a bit too anise-y for us but now I double all the spices, with the exception of the star anise, toss everything in a crockpot, and let the broth cook for a day or two. It makes our house smell awesome and it is really easy cheater pho (I think that real pho broth starts with bones but that seems difficult).
cschaefer September 3, 2013
Sooo yum. Pho is actually one of my all time favorite meals. This turkey rendition does not disappoint and has all of the qualities of that soothing, healing, deeply satisfying herby, spicy noodle soup that you come to expect when eating pho. I tried mine with chicken breast, nixed the fish sauce, and added with a few extra trimmings: basil, bean sprouts, & jalapeño.
darksideofthespoon February 2, 2013
I made this but instead of turkey, used very very thinly sliced boneless short ribs, and when making the broth, added in a bashed stick of lemon grass and some cilantro. This was amazing!
Kristina R. November 30, 2012
Excellent use for leftover roasted chicken too. Just made it with chicken and chard and it was great for a rainy day lunch. Thank you!