Vietnamese Pho

As soon as the weather shows signs of change I start craving soups and lofty stews instead of salads and light, summery pastas. After several days of rain then crisp, cool days last week, my appetite for a warm bowl of pho stirred and I’ve been excited to bring out my stock pot again.

A good bowl of Vietnamese Pho is a labor of love. Unlike the quick thirty-minute meals that crowd our Pinterest feeds, preparing this dish requires a little more time and patience. Even though it is possible to make a good bowl of pho without fresh goods, making your broth from scratch using fresh produce and seasonings will yield a tastier bowl of soup.

Pho is easily customizable. If you are a fan of intense heat, incorporate more chili peppers into the recipe and garnish with sriracha. Pair a spicy broth with fresh mint sprigs for a cool contrast to the heat. If you prefer a mild bowl of soup, lessen or completely remove the portion of chili peppers altogether. Instead of salt, add fish sauce to the broth for the trademark flavor and aroma of Southeast Asian dishes. If you’re a fan of spices, increase the portions called for in the recipe. Too much spice for your taste? Be a little light-handed in your dealing. Meat eater? Include thin slices of beef sirloin cooked in the broth to make this a classic Vietnamese Beef Pho.

Customize by adding or excluding ingredients to fit your preferences but keep in mind that what matters most is the foundation of the soup: the broth. A bowl of pho is only as good as the broth that makes it. So experiment with different ingredients and find the right proportion for your taste.

And remember to take your time and enjoy making it. The process of cooking pho makes you relish the experience of eating it even more.  

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Vegetarian Vietnamese Pho

6 C Water
3 med Colorful Carrots
4 stalks Celery
1/2 sm Sweet Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper
2 Whole Cloves
1 tsp Coriander
1 inch piece Ginger
2 Large Green Onions
1/2 cup Cilantro Sprigs, divided
1 Red Chilli Pepper
1 tbsp Agave nectar (optional)
2 Small Jalapeno Peppers
1 C Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
Bean Sprouts
Lime Wedges
Ground Pepper
Flat rice Noodles


  1. Chop the carrots, celery, onion, and bell pepper and drop into the water. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. After 5 minutes, introduce the cloves, coriander, ginger, green onions, half the cilantro sprigs, red pepper flakes, and agave. Let this mixture simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  2. On a baking sheet lay flat entire slices of the mushrooms and drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper then broil for 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the rice noodles according to package directions.
  4. Once the broth is done, strain the vegetables and herbs out.
  5. Layer cooked noodles, bean sprouts, broth, and chosen garnishes in a bowl. Top with the juice from a lime wedge. Enjoy!

Have you found any good pho restaurants in Birmingham? What are your favorite pho toppings? Let me know!

Courtney T.

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