Now that the cat is out of the bag I can finally share all of my pregnancy cravings! It’s going to be pretty boring, not like my mom who literally craved PB&J’s dipped in tomato soup… no no, nothing crazy like that here. I have craved SOUP. So much soup. Now I don’t mean like a sad can of chicken noodle with fake ham (while I will still happily enjoy that if nothing else prevails), but I’m talking about giant vats of brothy soup brimming with all the best toppings. While I’ve always been a soup girl, I have taken this to a new level since becoming pregnant. Since my local Pho restaurant can’t keep up with me I’ve resorted to making my own. Kidding, but I have discovered how to make homemade pho at home and now I’m obsessed!
If you haven’t had Pho before, it’s a Vietnamese soup consisting of a delicious broth, rice noodles, herbs, and a meat. Usually in restaurants I get chicken or beef pho, but my local Pho spot in St. Augustine has the best Shrimp noodle soup which inspired this recipe! If you live in the St. Augustine area you have to check out Andaman!
How to Make Homemade Pho
- Prep your broth – Toast spices in a dry dutch oven which will be the base of your broth – use star anise, cloves, cardamom pods, and coriander seeds. Meanwhile also char the onion and ginger under the broiler or in a skillet.
- Let that bad boy simmer – I make a double batch of this which is 16 cups of water total – So in doing that you have to make sure you have double the toasted spices and charred onions and ginger to make sure to get a rich savory broth. Let it simmer for a good 40 minutes to an hour if you do a double batch. 30 minutes minimum for a regular batch.
- Taste and adjust – The biggest thing to get a broth right is taste and continue seasoning until you get it perfect. After you take out all the aromatics (spices, ginger, onion), add in brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, more salt if needed, and minced garlic if you want it a little garlicky. Adjust to your preference and just use the recipe as your base!
- Go nuts with the toppings – the toppings are what ties it all together! I love cilantro, basil, sliced jalapeño, and thinly sliced white onion. I use to love the bean sprouts they also serve with it at Pho shops but since I’m preggo I can’t eat those since they can harbor bacteria I guess. And the final bow on the end?! Sriracha and hoisin not-so-sparingly added on top and mixed in. And if you’ve gotten Pho to-go, can you BELIEVE how small the sriracha and hoisin containers are?! I mean that’s why you obviously have to have the big bottles in the fridge to come to the rescue.
While Pho has been topping my craving charts lately – I still love a good ramen and I’m not beneath a carton of Trader Joe’s roasted red pepper soup which is my fave store bought soup ever. However since I want to be as nutritious as possible for the baby, during weekdays I try and eat as much veggie packed things as possible, so lately that’s looked like quinoa chicken soup with lots of carrots, celery and onion. Or we’ll do a curry lentil stew with coconut milk which is always on rotation – Anywho I will share a lot more of these recipes since I’ve tested them A LOT and they are truly weeknight staples for us!
Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
PHO BROTH INGREDIENTS
- 4 inch-piece ginger, halved lengthwise
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut in half or quartered
- 5 whole cloves
- 5 star anise
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- 8 cups quality chicken stock, or you can use beef or vegetable I use the better the bouillan chicken base and add a couple big spoonfuls to the water - taste as you go.
- 2-3 cloves minced garlic (optional) sometimes I use and sometimes I don't!
- 3 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- salt, if needed after tasting
- 1 pound of shrimp, or you can use thinly sliced steak or shredded chicken
- thin rice noodles All I had was the thicker linguine style rice noodles at my grocery store but I prefer the thinner ones if you can find them.
- Garnishes: Cilantro, basil, sliced jalapeño's, lime wedges, thinly sliced onion or scallions if you prefer that
- sriracha and hoisin for final touches
- First off you want to char the ginger and onions to bring out toasty flavors! Turn the oven broiler to high and make sure the rack is on the first or 2nd tier. Place the onion and ginger cut-side-up on a baking sheet and drizzle and toss with a little oil. Broil for about about 8-10 minutes, until the tops of the onion and ginger are slightly charred. Remove and set aside.
- Lets make the broth! While things are charring in the oven, heat the anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and coriander to a large soup or stock pot over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add in the charred onion, ginger, and stock you're using, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the broth reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to a low simmer, cover with a lid, and continue to simmer for at least 30-40 minutes. Strain and discard the onions, ginger and spices. Stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar into the hot broth. Now taste and add more seasoning! taste the broth and add in more brown sugar, fish sauce, or salt as needed. I will taste and add, taste and add several times before it's perfect. Don't forget you will be squeezing over lime juice and stirring in your sauces as well when you go to assemble your bowl.
- Meanwhile, as your broth is simmering, cook the noodles separately according to package, make them al dente since they will also be sitting in hot soup. Drain in a strainer, then briefly rinse the noodles with cold water to prevent them from continuing to cook. Toss with just a little oil like sesame oil or any other kind of neutral oil to keep the noods from sticking.
- If you are using shrimp, right at the end of your broth cooking, drop your shrimp in for 1-2 minutes until pink. Or you can always cook them on the side but I prefer to just drop them in the broth. You can also use shredded chicken or very thinly sliced beef! If you do beef, freeze it for 20 minutes or so before hand so it's easy to slice very thin. Keep it raw and when you put the hot broth over it will cook!
- Now comes the fun part! Add a handful of noodles to each bowl. Then ladle the still-simmering hot broth into the serving bowls. If you're using steak, be sure to submerge the steak completely so that it gets cooked. Top each bowl with lots of cilantro, basil, jalapeño, onion, and drizzle generously with Sriracha and hoisin! Make sure to stir it all together so it flavors the broth and you get goodness in every bite!