I will start out by acknowledging that this is, in no way, an authentic bowl of pho. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.
During more leisurely cooking days, I have followed Andrea Nguyen’s beautiful directions on making an aromatic, perfectly clear pho broth with all of the fixings, and it’s wonderful. But for quick, weeknight dinners, I don’t want to be hindered by the need to be authentic. Sometimes improvisations come with beautiful results.
This is more of a method that a recipe, so I will write it that way and you can scale it to what you have on hand and the size and preferences of your family. This pho is based on this meal prep list. If you’re following along with this week’s meal ideas, this dinner should be on the table in 20 minutes, start to finish. If you’re tuning in later, it will take you just a little bit longer, but it’s still easy. Hopefully, you have some homemade chicken or vegetable stock in your freezer. But, if not, just substitute a good quality purchased stock. There are some good ones available now.
You can use any broth you like. I prefer the flavor of a good homemade chicken stock, but you can use beef or vegetable stock. I just simmer the stock with a few aromatic spices and some ginger, to add more flavor.
I like using these brown rice noodles. They are not traditional for pho, but they work great. They are higher in fiber, and I think they taste better, too.
For vegetables, do what makes you happy. My favorite noodle soups are with roasted red peppers, shitake mushrooms and sautéed kale, but you can substitute any other vegetables.
For protein, you can add shredded chicken, if you like, or cubed firm tofu (choose an organic, non-GMO version). Most often, I choose tofu. If you’ve followed along with the meal prep, a boiled egg is an easy addition.
Garnish with cilantro, or fresh mint or basil. It’s all good.
Easy Pho (Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup)
brown rice noodles (about 3 ounces per person)
homemade chicken stock (or beef or vegetable stock)
a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger
a few whole cloves
1 or 2 star anise
1 handful of kale per person
1 clove garlic, sliced
a large spoonful of roasted red peppers per person
a large spoonful of roasted shitake mushrooms per person
soft-boiled eggs (halved) or tofu or shredded chicken
toasted sesame seeds
fresh cilantro (and/or mint and basil)
Place the chicken stock in a pot and bring to a simmer to warm. Place the ginger, cloves and star anise in a tea bag used for loose-leaf tea (or wrap in cheese cloth). Nestle the tea bag in the broth and allow it to steep while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. If you are using tofu, add the tofu to the broth to warm.
Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions (typically, boiling for 4 minutes). Drain and rinse well in cold water. Set aside.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil. Add 1 clove sliced garlic and allow to cook for just 30 seconds or a minute. Before the garlic browns, add the kale and season with sea salt. Saute for a few minutes, just until the kale is wilted. Remove from heat.
Remove the tea bag from the broth. Add the rice noodles and stir to warm. Using tongs, divide the rice noodles evenly among bowls (preferably bowls that have been warmed). Divide the kale, roasted red peppers and shitake mushrooms between the bowls. Ladle the broth over the noodles and vegetables. Nestle in the egg (or chicken or tofu). Garnish with sesame seeds, chile oil and fresh herbs.
That’s it! It’s so easy. This noodle bowl is also great for picky eaters or dinner parties, because everyone can customize their bowl to their liking. Just put out all of the the add-ins and let everyone build their own bowl.
Please take a moment to let me know how you are liking this new meal planning series! I love your feedback.