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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.
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?
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)
- Prepare rice noodles according to package directions and 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!