When I was pregnant, I craved pho (pronounced “fuh”) all. the. time. To this day, I continue to crave it and make it at home at least 2-3 times a month. Pho is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup made with beef or chicken broth. Just like every Italian has a different meatball recipe, every bowl of pho will taste slightly different depending on who prepares the dish. Of course, there’s much more to it than that so here is The History and Evolution of Pho.
Why do I crave it? The intensely flavored broth is full of warm toasted spices, fresh flavors and aromatics. As you slurp the rice noodles, warm broth and bright herbs, you are instantly transported to another world. A delicious and happy world.
My Shrimp Pho is a faster, easier weeknight version that doesn’t require hours in the kitchen making the traditional bone-marrow broth. I leave that to the experts at my favorite local Vietnamese restaurant. Instead, I rely on a few shortcuts like boxed chicken stock and often use shrimp or chicken instead of beef. Additionally, I like throwing in leafy greens at the end such as bok choy or spinach.
There are a million and one ways to make pho and in fact, my version continues to evolve over time. There’s my Vietnamese Chicken Soup (Faux Pho) which I made before I learned the secret about toasting the spices. Another tip? Garnish with thinly sliced onion. I learned that one recently at my local nail salon when the owner of the shop shared a bowl of her homemade soup!
Lastly, lemon peel is a great substitute for lemongrass which adds a ton of flavor and doesn’t require a trip to the Asian market. Although Asian markets are probably one of my favorite places on the planet.
Your bowl is waiting.
- Serves: 4
- Serving size: 2 oz noodles + 3 cups soup
- Calories: 450
- Fat: 6.3 g
- Saturated fat: .6 g
- Unsaturated fat: 5.7 g
- Trans fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 65 g
- Sugar: 3.2 g
- Sodium: 1839 mg
- Fiber: 3.1 g
- Protein: 31.9 g
- Cholesterol: 156 mg
- 8 oz rice noodles – thin or pad thai style
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (or ½ teaspoon ground)
- 2 whole cloves (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns (or ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons ginger root – minced
- ½ tablespoon chili garlic paste
- 8 cups chicken broth – low sodium
- 2 strips lemon peel (use carrot peeler)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce – low sodium
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons hoisin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 8 cups bok choy – stem thinly sliced, leaves roughly chopped
- 1 lb shrimp – raw
- Prepare rice noodles according to package directions and set aside.
- Toast coriander, cloves and peppercorns in a dry pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until they become aromatic. Remove from heat and crush with mortar and pestle or spice grinder; set aside.
- In a large soup pot, warm sesame oil over medium heat for 30-60 seconds until it starts to shimmer. Add ginger and chili garlic paste then stir for 30 seconds to release flavors.
- Stir in chicken broth, lemon peel, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, hoisin, cinnamon and reserved toasted spices. Bring mixture to a boil then add shrimp and bok choy.
- Continue to simmer until shrimp turns bright pink and bok choy wilts – about 3-4 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt/pepper/soy if necessary.
- Divide rice noodles evenly between four large bowls and ladle soup into each bowl.
- Serve with optional garnishes.