If you’ve ever had a piping hot bowl of pho on a cold, dreary day you know just how incredible this soup is, it warms you down to your core and the flavors are unlike any other dish.
What is Pho and why is it so good for you?
Pho is a traditional Vietnamese dish consisting of a seasoned stock accompanied by thinly sliced beef or chicken, vegetables, rice noodles and various other toppings like cilantro, lime, etc. Think of it as the ultimate chicken noodle soup. It has so much more flavor like ginger, cloves, lime, even jalapeno if you so choose. While these ingredients simmer in the broth, building up
Ginger is an incredible aid to our digestive systems. One study on the health benefits of herbs and spices regarded ginger as the “universal medicine” in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and practice (this is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing practices). Not only do spices give our food great flavor, but they are so beneficial for our health in so many ways that I strongly suggest stocking up in the bulk section next time you’re at Whole Foods. Your gut, your joints, your skin, your hormones, your cardiac health will all thank you. For more information, you can listen to this podcast with Dr. Josh Axe- a functional medicine practitioner who uses spices and herbs to heal some of the most common digestive complaints and illnesses amongst patients.
Now, back to the soup. Even if you are the pickiest of eaters, I urge you to try this soup. I will make it for you just for you to try! Sometimes different cuisines and flavors that we aren’t used to can put us off. We have this predisposition that we
Make it your own
The great thing about pho is that it is so versatile. After you simmer the broth, you can add just about any type of protein, vegetable and topping:
Protein Ideas – protein in pho is generally sliced thin so that it can cook fully within the broth. Thinly sliced skirt steak will cook fairly quickly in a broth that’s over medium heat – not quite boiling. Chicken can be cooked low and slow to increase flavor. You can remove and shred or cube into bite-sized pieces then return to the broth right before you’re ready to serve. Shrimp cooks extremely quickly and is my preferred protein in this dish, just make sure you buy it deveined and remember to remove the tails. Frankly, I’ve never cooked tofu before but I have had it in pho and it’s delicious. Just follow the instructions on the package and you should be good (if you have tips for cooking tofu, please, please leave them in the comments below!).
- beef – thinly sliced skirt stea
- chicken – cubed or shredded
Vegetable Ideas – add these towards the end, as the broth and protein are almost ready. Most of these vegetables you want to briefly cook in the heat of the broth but not allow them to become too soft. Often times at restaurants these will be served on a separate plate and only added to the dish by you, once it’s at your table.
- bell peppers
- yellow onion
- bean sprouts
- shredded carrots
- rice noodles
- zucchini noodles (Whole30 option)
Topping Ideas – these will add even more flavor to the dish, but don’t necessarily need to be cooked. Think of these as garnishes that provide a visual and flavorful addition based on your preferences.
- chopped peanuts or cashews
- soy sauce
- hot sauce
- chili flakes
thaibasil or regular basil sweetand sour sauce
- scallions/green onions
- 1" section of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (or 1-2 tbsp minced ginger from a jar)
- 4 green onion stalks, thinly slice the green part of 2 stalks for garnish, chop the remainder into 1" sections tp use in the stock (see below)
- 1 small bunch of cilantro springs, about a quarter size in diameter
- 2 cloves (find in the bulk seasoning section at the grocery store)
- 4 c vegetable broth
- 2 c water
- 3/4 yellow onion, roughly chopped (the thick, inner parts will be used to season the broth, the rest can be sliced or diced to cook with the rest of the vegetables)
- 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (you can substitute any protein you like, read the post for suggestions)
- 5 oz or 1/3 of a typical box of rice noodles (you can substitute zucchini noodles or spaghetti if you'd like)
- 2 tsp fish sauce (substitute 1 soy sauce/coconut aminos and 1 tsp rice vinegar or just omit)
- 1 lime, half juiced, half for garnish
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 jalapeño, deseed and dice half
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- in a medium stock pot, combine sliced or minced ginger, cloves, and 1" sections of green onion, turn heat to medium and toast until fragrant, smooshing with a wooden spoon to release flavors
- after 1 minute, add in vegetable stock, water, large inner sections of the yellow onion, cilantro sprigs (stems and leaves), half the jalapeño (sliced but keep seeds intact), juice from half of the lime, fish sauce (or alternative), and red pepper flakes
- bring to a small boil then reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for 15 minutes (you can let the broth simmer as long as you'd like, the longer, the stronger the flavors)
- when ready, strain the broth into another bowl, catching and discarding the flavor-adding ingredients
- return the broth to the stock pot over medium-low heat, add in desired protein and vegetables (depending on the protein you use, let it cook longer before adding in vegetables; if you choose shrimp you can add everything in at the same time)
- once the vegetables are added, continue to cook for 5-10 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as needed
- in a separate pot, prepare noodles as guided on the package (if you're using rice noodles, cook in boiling water for 7 minutes, strain and rinse with cold water, then lightly coat with olive oil or spray with avocado oil to prevent sticking)
- once noodles are ready, divide them into bowls
- ladle the broth, vegetables and protein over the noodles
- top with chopped cilantro, lime wedge, remaining sliced green onions, deseeded jalapeños, and any additional toppings you choose
- Save any leftovers in a glass container and reheat as needed. This is one of those dishes that gets better and better the longer the flavors sit together.
Tip: reheating soup can be tricking and messy. Here is any easy trick.