Pho Soup

This soup is interesting because it has no spices. No ginger, no garlic, no whole or powdered spices. The mushrooms give body, the fruit sweetness, and red radishes give the whole thing a nice clear pink color. The toppings themselves add plenty of flavor.

My wife loves pho, and asks me to make often. I find store bought vegetable broth tends toward muddy in color and makes all the soups taste the same, so I like to make my own. Making broth is ridiculously easy, requiring only shopping and chopping. With all the vegetables, it makes a hearty vegetable soup.

Steaming allows me to control the amount of water in the broth. The broth from steaming is very concentrated. I am careful not to add too much water, since water dilutes flavor.

I often substitute vegetables. I use a basic formula of 3 roots + 3 vegetables + fruit + mushrooms.

HARD VEGETABLES (3 Roots)

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6-8 med red radishes, sliced
  • 2 med carrots, sliced
  • 3 cups water

Onion, raddish and carrots are easy to find. I’ve also used leeks, daikon radish

SOFT VEGETABLES AND FRUIT (3 Vegetables)

  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup corn, frozen
  • 1 apple, chunks
  • 1 pear, chunks
  • 1 large handful oyster mushrooms
  • 3 cups water

Broccoli, corn and apple are easy to find. I’ve also used baby bok choi, kohlrabi and shiitake mushrooms. Not white or portobello mushrooms.) If dry shitake muushrooms are available, can add flavor to broth with 3 tsp shitake mushroom powder.

SPICE

  • black or green cardamom

MAIN

  • baked tofu, cubed
  • rice noodles

TOPPINGS

  • bean sprouts
  • basil, Thai basil or cilantro
  • lime
  • jalapeno or hot-sweet sauce (Sriracha sauce)

Steam hard vegetables until soft, then add to large stock pot. Steam soft vegetables, fruit and mushrooms, and add to large stock pot. Prepare baked tofu, rice noodles and fresh toppings. When everything is ready, assemble and serve.