Vietnamese Rice Soup (Chao Recipe)

  • Preparation: 25 mins
  • Cooking: 15 mins
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Servings: 4

Description Vietnamese Rice Soup Recipe (Cháo)

Warm, creamy and comforting, Vietnamese Rice Soup (Cháo) is a staple of Vietnam food diet. It is eaten at all times of day, and is the magical antidote for whatever ails you - a stomachache, a cold, a hangover. With less than a cup of rice, you can create a pot of soup that will feed people in biblical proportions because it keeps thickening as it cooks and sits, requiring ever more liquid to thin it down.

At its most basic, Vietnamese Rice Soup (Chao Recipe) is rice simmered in liquid - water, homemade stock, or canned broth (the latter two are best)—until all its starch has been released. The thick finished soup is a versatile canvas. For a flavorful savory addition, eat it with Salted Preserved Eggs or a sprinkle of Cotton Pork shreds. For ichness, put a raw egg into the bowl before ladling in the hot soup. For a simple seafood soup, drop in raw peeled shrimp just before serving. Or, make one of the four cháo recipes that follow.


  • ¾ cup long-grain rice
  • 2½ quarts (10 cups) chicken stock, homemade or quick version
  • 4 quarter-sized slices unpeeled fresh ginger
  • 2 scallions, white part only
  • Salt

Method Vietnamese Rice Soup Recipe (Cháo)

1, Put the rice in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Stir the rice with your hand 8 to 10 times around and then let the rice settle. Carefully pour out the milky water. Repeat this rinsing but without stirring the rice. These two rinsings remove some of the starch from the rice.
2, Add the stock, ginger, and scallions and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a vigorous simmer, and then cover partially. To loosen but not lose its starch, the rice should bounce in the bubbling water without the water boiling over the pan sides. Let the soup cook for 5 minutes. Stir the rice to make sure none has stuck to the bottom and lower the heat to a gentle simmer.
3, Re-cover partially and continue cooking for 1 hour, or until the rice grains have bloomed and curled, releasing their starches to thicken the soup and turn it creamy white. There should be only a little separation between the rice and liquid. If you stir the soup, the rice should be suspended in the liquid.
4, Discard the ginger and scallion. Taste and add salt as necessary; the amount will depend on what liquid you used to make the soup. You now have a versatile soup base to which other flavorings may be added. This soup may be prepared a day in advance and reheated over medium heat with a bit of extra water to prevent scorching. It may thicken considerably after cooling, but you can always add water to thin it out. Avoid boiling the finished soup to prevent scorching.

Chef's Note

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