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Pho-Inspired Vietnamese Shrimp Noodle Soup

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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.

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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.

Vietnamese Shrimp Pho with Rice Noodles and Jalapenos

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.

Shrimp Pho with Rice Noodles, Warm Broth, and Bok Choy

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?

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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!

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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 for shrimp pho

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.

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Saute chili garlic paste, spices, and ginger in sesame oil until fragrant.

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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!

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You can prepare the rice noodles according to package directions ahead of time or while the broth simmers.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

Liz chopping bok choy

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.

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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.

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Your bowl is waiting.

Vietnamese Shrimp Pho with Rice Noodles and Jalapenos

Shrimp Pho – Vietnamese Noodle Soup

4.57 stars average
My Shrimp Pho is a faster, easier weeknight version that doesn’t require hours in the kitchen making the traditional bone-marrow broth.
PREP: 10 mins
COOK: 30 mins
TOTAL: 40 mins
Save
Servings: 4

Ingredients
 

  • 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)

Optional Garnishes

  • thinly sliced onion
  • slices jalapeno
  • cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • hoisin sauce
  • sriracha
  • bean sprouts
  • Thai basil

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 450kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 31.9gFat: 6.3gSaturated Fat: 0.6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5.7gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 1839mgFiber: 3.1gSugar: 3.2g

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For more Asian recipes, check out my Pinterest board!

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Liz DellaCroce

Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:

121 Comments

  1. I just wanted to let you know I tried this one last night and it worked great! Because I had so much minced fresh ginger and I used ground spices, I actually put the broth through a sieve before proceeding by adding in the shrimp. I like the broth a bit more clear if that makes sense. I just made sure I simmered it a bit longer so all the tastes were infused before discarding the spices. I will definitely try it again!

      1. I don’t know what you are cooking, but that recipe cannot be Pho. There are many types of vietnamese soups, such as Pho, Bun Bo Hue, Bun rieu, bun mang vit, Hu tieu, bun mam… You can cook whatever you like, but please do not confuse readers by calling your soup is Pho.

  2. I’m so glad I found your recipes, especially this one. I made this with a few substitutions: I love squid so got some fresh squid from Whole Foods, I also used scallops and mussels in addition to the shrimp. I used a delicious seafood base instead of chicken broth, and I love the sweet and sour flavor tamarind gives dishes so added some tamarind as well. I’ve eaten Pho for years and never thought I could make it but thanks to your recipe I realize how easy it is. Also, my nail technician talked me into it. He kept telling me I could make it so I thought I’d give it a try. Thanks so much for making this delicious recipe available. I’m trying the fresh spring wraps next!

    1. I love squid too – what an awesome idea!!! I wish we lived closer to a whole foods. So glad you enjoyed this recipe!! Let me know if you try the spring rolls!!

  3. I know you love this soup so this is probably a silly question but do you know if this freezes well? It’s just me at home and I don’t eat much so, 4 servings would really end up be like 8 and while I love Pho not sure if I want to eat it 8 times in a row…

  4. Made this tonight for dinner because the hubs was feeling under the weather, and I find that pho always makes you feel better. We both loved it! Didn’t have hoisin on hand so I subbed oyster sauce, and we also added some thinly sliced mushrooms along with the bok choy. I think I might tone down the cloves just a tad next time, though the hubs thought they were spot on. Great recipe, will make this often!

    1. Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!! Just reading your comment has me craving it again!! Love the idea of mushrooms and bok choy!! Thanks so much!

  5. I have always been a soup lover. Lately i have been totally hooked on Pho. Recently I took a trip to San Diego to an authentic noodle house and now I crave it all the time. Looking forward to trying this version. Thanks so much!!

  6. Are you sure there’s only 8 cups of the noodle soup we are making it at the moment and there’s only a bit of broth and a lot of extra ingredients, but other than that it taste great

  7. Made this today and it was deeelicious!! I was worried it wouldn’t come out right since I’ve never made it before/didn’t even know what bok choy was or where to find it, but it was so good :) I’ve been craving pho for a while and this hit the spot. Can’t wait to see what my Vietnamese mom thinks of it!!

  8. I had never had Pho before, but my daughter loves it. She gave me this recipe and asked me to make it. I used chicken instead of shrimp, and we are eating it right now. It is really good. I especially like the crunch of the bean sprouts. The flavor is delicious. My husband said he would go to a restaurant for this, he likes it that much:)

  9. I’ve been dyiiiiiiiiiiiing to try Pho. I’ve never even had it in a restaurant, Liz!! Every time I see it on a blog, it looks sooo flipping good. I love how your recipe is a fast preperation… who has time to do all that work during the week?! I’ll add this to my food to-do list! Thanks for the awesome recipe! :)

  10. Liz,
    Love pho!
    Your comment about lemongrass instantly has me wondering if I can freeze the lemongrass I get in my CSA farm share in the summer (decidedly NOT Pho season for me) for use in the winter. I will investigate this year. I usually make sun tea with it, which is good, but Pho would be better.
    Thanks!

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