Pho soup (pronounced "fahr") is a fragrant, light soup made with a rich tasty stock, fresh, crunchy vegetables, herbs, spices and your choice of meat strips, seafood or mushrooms. It is an ideal healthy and light vegetarian dish, as well. It is one of the favorite and most loved Vietnamese soup dishes, that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner. It is easy to prepare at home and can be enjoyed as a healthy snack any time of the day.
The secret of a stellar pho is the quality of the freshly prepared stock along with the choice of fresh herbs and beautiful spices. Below are 10 of the best ever Vietnamese pho soup recipes for you and your family to enjoy. The ingredients are readily available anbd you can use various substitutes and your own variations.
for the Stock
to be added to the bowls
for the garnishes
To make the stock, start by preparing the bones. Cover the bones with cold salted water in a large pot. Bring to the boil and simmer vigorously for about 3-5 minutes. Pour off the water and rinse the bones several times in warm tap water. Remove the bones and wipe with paper towels to remove excess fat. Wipe out the pot, add the bones and cover with fresh cold water. Bring the pot to the boil. Then, reduce to a gentle simmer, add the ginger, onion and remaining stock ingredients and cook for 1 1/2 hours, skimming off any fat that accumulates at the surface. Remove the meat when just cooked and set aside in the refrigerator. Cook the broth for an additional hour. Strain the stock to remove the bones and skim off the fat when cold. Reserve the stock in the refrigerator, where it will keep for several days.
To prepare the pho soup, reheat some of the stock. Slice the cooked meat into thin strips and fry briefly to warm through. Cook and drain the noodles. To serve add a serving of the noodles to serving bowls. Add slices of cooked meat, with raw sirloin on top. Top with coriander, onion, spring onion, fresh bean sprouts and your choice of herbs. Season with pepper and thinly sliced chilli. Pour in a serving of the hot stock, add some lime juice and season with fresh basil or mint.
For serving and garnishing
Add the cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, star anise and cloves to a dry moderate size saucepan. Place over moderate-high heat and dry-roast for about 3 minutes to release the aromatic. Add the ginger, shiitake mushrooms, stock, onion and soy sauce and bring the saucepan to the boil. Then, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Using tongs, hang the nori sheets over a direct flame for about 30 seconds until each sheet is lightly toasted and has become dry and crisp. Then, add the nori to the stock. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper. Then, cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes. Next, add the carrots and simmer for about 7 minutes until the carrots become tender. Strain, reserving the stock, carrots and shiitake mushrooms. Thickly slice the carrots and mushrooms and return to the stock. To serve add some rice noodles carrots and mushrooms to serving bowls. Pour a serving of the hot stock over the noodles and garnish with chilli, mixed herbs and beans sprouts. Serve with hoisin sauce, chilli sauce and lime wedges available to be added.
for the Stock
for the Garnishes
Firstly, make the fresh stock by placing the bones in a large heavy saucepan, Dutch oven or stockpot and covering with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce to a brisk simmer. Grill or fry the onion and ginger over high heat until well browned to release the flavors. Add to the stock. Dry-fry the spices in a heavy pan over low heat for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer the toasted spices to a small piece of muslin or cheesecloth, and tie with twine to make a bag. Add the spice bag to the stock pot and simmer the pot for 10 minutes. Then, remove and wash the bones and spice bag, wash the pot and return the bones and spice bag to the pot with clean water. Simmer the pot for about 2-3 hours, skimming off any fat that gathers on the surface. Next, remove the bones and spice bag from the pot and discard. Then, strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Prepare and drain the noodles. Next assemble the pho, by heating the broth to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add a serving of noodles to serving bowls. Add some thinly sliced raw meat to the bowls and a ladle of hot broth. Sprinkle with sliced onion, coriander and a selection of garnishes, leaving extra garnishes and sauces on the side.
for the Stock
for the Vegetables and Garnish
Prepare the stock by removing the bones from the chicken and finely slice the meat. Fry or grill the red shallots and ginger directly over high heat or flames until well browned, and set aside. Dry fry the coriander seeds, star anise and cloves until toasted and aromatic. Add the chicken, water, rock sugar, fish sauce, ginger and red shallots. Cook in a pressure cooker for 45 minutes, or simmer in a pot with a lid for 60-90 minutes. Sieve the stock and discard the solids. Season with salt and pepper. Poach or fry the chicken breasts until just cooked and slice finely. Assemble the pho by adding a serving of noodles to the bowls and topping with cooked chicken slices. Reheat the stock and pour a serving into each bowl. Sprinkle with your choice of chilli, onion, spring onion, bean sprouts and herbs. Squeeze fresh lime juice on top and add bean sprouts and herbs.
Transfer the stock to a moderate size pan, add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and the chillies. Bring to the boil and then simmer briskly briskly boil for 20-30 minutes to create the basic broth. Set aside on very low heat for a further 10 minutes. Add the bean sprouts to the pot and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, then add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes until just tender. Using a slotted spoon remove the ginger, lemongrass and garlic. Then, add the cooked prawns and heat through for 5 minutes. Divide the cooked noodles and stock between the serving plates. Garnish with a serving of coriander, Thai basil, mint leaves, a few slices of red chilli and spring onion. Serve hot with a wedge of lime.
Prepare the stock by cleaning the pork bone under running water. Place on a pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Bring to the boil, then lower the temperature to a slow simmer and cook covered for 2-3 hours. Strain the broth, remove the bones, add 2 cups of clean water. Add the star anise, grilled onion, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and season with extra salt and pepper if required. Allow to cool and then remove the fat and store in the refrigerator. When ready to assemble the pho, reheat the stock to a gentle simmer. Cook and drain the noodles. Cut the fish into 3 or 4 pieces (one for each serving) and boil or steam until just tender (about 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness). Then, remove the fish pieces to a frying pan and fry in a little oil with the garlic for about 5 minutes. Add a serving of noodles to each bowl, add a piece of fish and top with a variety of fresh herbs and bean sprouts. Pour stock into the bowls and serve with lime slices and extra herbs on a plate.
Using a large heavy pot, heat the broth, cloves, coriander, chili flakes, ginger, chili oil, fish sauce and onion until simmering gently. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the onion have started to soften. Gently add the crab meat to the stock and simmer gently for 3-5 minutes, until the crab is just cooked. Assemble the pho by placing 1/2 cup noodles in the bottom of each serving bowl. Gently add a serving of crab and ladle one cup of broth into each bowl. Garnish with sprouts, basil leaves, mushrooms, cilantro, herbs and serve with lime wedges.
Heat a large heavy skillet or frying pan over moderate to high heat. Cook the onion, cut-side down, until well browned (about 5 minutes) and set aside. Add garlic, cinnamon stick, chillies, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds and star anise to the dry skillet and cook while stirring, until fragrant (about 1 minute; do not burn). Add the onion, ginger, and pour in the broth. Bring the pot to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a little heat oil in a frying pan over moderate to high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and cook on both sides in the hot pan until browned and cooked inside (about 5 minutes per side). Let rest 5 minutes and then slice the pork thinly. Cook the noodles and then add a serving to each of the serving bowls. Add several slices of pork. Strain the broth and ladle a serving into the bowls. Dress the pho soup with bean sprouts, green onions, coriander and peanuts and serve with lime wedges and extra fresh herbs on the side.
for the Soup
for the Garnishes
Heat a Dutch oven or heavy pot over moderate heat. Add the star anise, cinnamon sticks and cloves and dry toast until fragrant (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the vegetable stock, water, onion, ginger and tamari. Increase the heat to high, bringing the mixture to the boil. Then, reduce the heat and gently simmer the mixture for 30 minutes. Cook the rice noodles, drain and set aside. Fry the shiitake mushrooms gently in warm oil until the mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, (about 4 to 5 minutes), then set aside. Once the broth is cooked and flavorsome, strain out the onions, spices and ginger using a small metal sieve. Season to taste and heat to simmering ready for serving. Assemble the pho by adding a serve of cooked noodle to the bowl, some mushrooms and a serving of broth. Add your choice of fresh garnishes and herbs.
Spices for the Broth (1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each)
Fry the seafood in small batches so that all the items are just cooked. Add the field mushrooms and spices into the simmering stock (you can also use homemade chicken stock for the broth). Simmer the stick for 30-40 minutes. Cook the noodles until just soft. To serve, add a portion of the cooked noodles to serving bowls and add some hot broth. Add a serving of the mixed seafood and top with your choice of coriander, onions, mushrooms and herbs.