My pho-inspired Vietnamese shrimp noodle soup is a faster, easier weeknight version that doesn’t require hours in the kitchen making the traditional bone-marrow broth. This aromatic shrimp noodle soup is warm, satisfying, and full of flavor thanks to all of the herbs and spices.
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 to 3 times a month.
What is pho?
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 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.
What spices are in pho broth?
- Coriander seeds
- Cloves (whole or ground)
- Black peppercorns
- Sesame oil
- Ginger root
- Chili garlic paste
- Lemon peel
- Soy sauce
- Fish sauce
- Lime juice
- Hoisin sauce
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. ;)
How to make Vietnamese Shrimp Pho
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!
For this quick recipe, I rely on a few shortcuts like boxed chicken stock and often use shrimp or chicken instead of beef.
Toasting spices might be a step you’d consider skipping, but it’s a game-changer. You won’t regret the extra time spent. Promise.
Saute chili garlic paste, spices, and ginger in sesame oil until fragrant.
Next, you’ll be adding in the rest of the soup ingredients to simmer. I like squeezing fresh lime, but using lime juice is okay too!
You can prepare the rice noodles according to package directions ahead of time or while the broth simmers.
I like to think that jalapeños make everything better, so I add some to most of my soups like Chicken and Rice Soup, Mexican Chicken Soup, and Easy 5 Minute Wonton Soup. Why should shrimp pho be any different? You can easily skip the jalapeños as a garnish if you do not like heat.
Most pho recipes call for lemongrass, but lemon peel is a great substitute. It 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.)
Lastly, I like throwing in leafy greens at the end such as bok choy or spinach with the shrimp. Cook until shrimp are pink and the greens wilt.
I serve my shrimp pho by itself. It’s a beautiful, hearty standalone meal. However, if you’re looking for other options to serve a crowd, you can try these other Vietnamese recipes like 15 Minute Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Banh Mi Sandwiches, or Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with BBQ Pork Meatballs.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is pho healthy?
Pho contains a lot of nutritious ingredients and protein, making it a good diet staple. Plus, pho ingredients are known to reduce inflammation and improve joint health. However, it can be high in sodium and calories depending on your recipe ingredients, so watch your portion size. You can also see the nutrition facts of my recipe below.
Do I have to use shrimp?
No! There are lots of protein options you can add to pho – beef is traditional, but chicken, egg, or tofu are good options as well. Check out my Pho Beef Bone Stock or my slow cooker Chicken Pho recipe.
How do I eat pho?
With chopsticks and a spoon! This video explains the correct way to eat pho and is super entertaining. Essentially, you eat combinations of ingredients with your chopsticks, and in between bites, scoop up the broth with your spoon sip. If you’re an expert, use both together! P.S. Slurping is encouraged!
How do I serve pho?
In bowls with chopsticks and soup spoons. Garnishes can include cilantro, mint, and/or Thai basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, thinly-sliced chiles, thinly sliced green or white onion, and hoisin and/or sriracha sauces.
Growing up, we ate Vietnamese every weekend, and so I’m proud to learn these recipes and share them with the next generation of my family.
Your bowl is waiting.
Shrimp Pho – Vietnamese Noodle Soup
- 8 oz rice noodles (thin or pad thai style)
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
- 2 cloves whole (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns (or 1/4 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 sauce
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 8 cups bok choy (stem thinly sliced & leaves roughly chopped)
- 1 lb shrimp (raw)
- thinly sliced onion
- slices jalapeno
- lime wedges
- hoisin sauce
- bean sprouts
- Thai basil
- 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.
For more Asian recipes, check out my Pinterest board!
122 thoughts on “Pho-Inspired Vietnamese Shrimp Noodle Soup”
Món Bún Tôm của bạn nhìn hấp dẫn quá!!!
Hi! Just wanted to say this was delicious. Also, I think some of the comments on here are ridiculous. People claiming shrimp pho isn’t authentic because they’re Vietnamese and they know how it’s traditionally made, blah blah blah. Also, pressuring you to change the name of your recipe cause it’s not authentic enough to their liking is laughable. You never said this is the most authentic pho ever. You said it’s quick, convenient, and uses common ingredients. I am Vietnamese and I loved your recipe. It’s a quick way to make pho without needing all the traditional ingredients and multiple hours of cooking. Also, cooking pho with shrimp might not be how the soup was originally made, or how Vietnamese grandmothers cook pho. But it’s very commonly eaten by Vietnamese people and cooked at authentic Vietnamese restaurants. Restaurants sell it to adapt with modern times. They still use authentic bone broth, fresh garnish, etc.
Putting shrimp in pho does not completely devalue the heart of pho, or someone’s recipe, just because Vietnamese grandmothers weren’t taught to cook it that way.
Thank you for your recipe! Quick, yummy pho in a pinch.
No idea if this is traditional or not. I do know it was not difficult to make and absolutely delicious. thank you!
Delicious! Clear directions, not overly complicated. A perfect meal!!!
Pho does not have sesame oil, soy sauce, or lemon grass. If you are going to make pho inspired soup, you should share correct facts about pho. I see the attempt but it is still wrong. Please see the response to Half-baked blogger and how NOT to do this. If you ate Vietnamese food growing up, you would know those ingredients are way off. Pho is never made with shrimp.
Hi Van, You aren’t wrong! That said, I eat shrimp pho in authentic Vietnamese restaurants multiple times a week. :) I like it. Since this is my free recipe website I share the recipes I love with others to enjoy. Second, while I know those ingredients aren’t traditional, I also don’t always have three days to make bone stock because I’m a busy mom and own multiple businesses. I find that this soup hits the spot when I’m craving authentic pho but can’t make it to the restaurant. I am sorry you don’t enjoy my recipe but wish you all the best. Try my Syrian recipes some time ok ?
Just returned from a holiday in Vietnam, travelled to the North and South and had beef and seafood pho at various places. With over 100 million people, I’m sure that in the hundreds of thousands of small villages there are lots of variations on pho ingredients and cooking approach. I’m about to try yours which looks awesome!
I agree, Van. I am Vietnamese and our family has taken much pride in not only teaching our generations the family recipe, but keeping an open mind to new additions and styles as we continue to grow. This being said, we’ve never used soy sauce, lemongrass, or sesame oil. Not because it is necessarily wrong, but because it competes with the traditional pho flavor. I too have never heard of shrimp pho – i asked grandma about it and she had a few words to say lol! A pot of traditional beef pho for us takes only a few hours to get started and can be enjoyed that night. Of course, it is preferably simmered over night, but I’ve never heard of it taking 3 days. Traditional pho is actually quite easy and can last several days as a hearty meal :)
Hi Wendy – That’s funny my Great Aunt Vieve says the same thing about how people make hummus these days with black beans. ;) I understand completely. I grew up with Vietnamese people who make Shrimp Pho so that’s why I make it and enjoy it. As you mentioned, traditional beef pho has to simmer overnight or all day so I wanted to create something to enjoy in 30 minutes to empower busy moms like myself to cook from scratch and not feel like it’s 2 days of cooking or takeout. :)
This is not Pho. At all. As someone who eats, makes, and enjoys learning about the traditions of Pho, I really wish y’all would stop putting recipes for soup on the internet and calling it Pho. It’s not. Call it “Pho inspired” or something, but this isn’t it. This does no service to Vietnamese cuisine or it’s history. I’m sure it tastes delicious, your recipe, but it is most certainly, NOT Pho.
You’re absolutely right – I agree with you and changed the name. Thank you Nick!
Cooking in a different way as to what you called pho, it is the person liking how he/she prepare it,because as famous chief said that what ever you have in your freezer can be use .
I have store bough pho beef broth. Can I use that to make seafood pho with shrimp, crab and scallops?
THIS IS AMAZING ! So much flavor in a short amount of time.
I’m so happy you enjoyed it Linda!
This is the most delicious pho we have ever tasted. Hate to get it in a restaurant now when we can much it so wonderful at home and quite easily. Thank you!
I’m so happy you enjoy it so much!!!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I’m so glad you liked it Stacie!!
This was the best recipe! Thank you so much for sharing <3 Hubs loved this more than the local Pho restaurant
Ahhh that makes me so happy!!
What a tasty recipe!! Full of flavour and so easy to make! will defnitely do again :)
So glad you enjoyed it!
I finally found this recipe, about 4-5 years late
Sounds really good but I prefer lemon grass to lemon rind. How much lemon grass would you recommend?
So glad you found it!! I prefer lemongrass as well – I would use 1 tablespoon per four cups broth.
Okay. This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I probably make it spicier and fill it with as much fresh cilantro as I possibly can but when I make this for my husband, he doesn’t speak. He just keeps saying, “this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten”. And it is. Thank you Liz for sharing it and enhancing our lives. Xxx
Oh my gosh thank you so much Miranda!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! !
Reading this convinces me I must go to the store to pick up these ingredients ASAP and make this for dinner tonight! Can’t wait for a soothing bowl of shrimp pho.
Let me know what you think of it!
We really enjoyed this! It makes 4 generous portions, which was great because we had leftovers for next day.Went to our local Asian market to pick up the ingredients for a value. Used enoki mushrooms instead of bean sprouts before serving which resemble delicate sprouts and add a hint of Unami. It was a fun date night activity! Quite spicy (especially with jalapeño and siracha to top) but we’re into that.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! Love the version you made!
I came across your recipe on Pinterest and decided to try it… And I just had to come back and let you know that it was absolutely delicious! Im a huge fan of ethnic dishes but so many recipes require ingredients that are not easily accessible or expensive, so I appreciated the simplicity and practicality of this recipe. I will definitely make this again. Thanks for creating such a yummy and easy recipe!
I’m so thrilled you liked it Lisa!! Thank you so much for your kind comment!!
I am so glad to have finally found a great site that actually give a cholesterol count. Thank you so much, it makes my life much easier. :)
Oh I’m so glad!!! Enjoy!!
I just made it!!! I added scallions and mushrooms in the brooth and garnished with them both too.
Great TASTY easy recipe!!!
I’m so thrilled you loved it!! It’s on my weekly menu this week too!! Enjoy!
This was Phonomenal!!! Hub already asked me to make it again. I used jumbo shrimp but also added some thinly sliced grilled chicken, since I had it. Also added sliced mushrooms and spicy bean sprouts along with all of the other optional ingredients. Going in the “keeper” files, PHO sure! Thank you so much.
I love all of the items you added!! Sounds so good! Glad your husband enjoyed it!! It’s one of my absolute favs!! :)