Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup – our version of Pho: Let’s call it Phaux.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup, a.k.a. Pho

One of my favorite categories in any Asian restaurant is the soup. As a kid I loved egg drop and hot & sour soups* from what was then the only available Asian cuisine in our area, a Chinese restaurant. Then came college and the discovery of  Japanese food, particularly sushi, with a side of seaweed salad and the perfect simplicity of a cup of miso soup. Japan was usurped by Thailand, and the reigning favorites for a good long time were tom yum with shrimp and tom kha gai, that tangy coconut ambrosia.Most recently, I have become a tad obsessed with pho (actually pronounced “fuh”, despite my bad pun in the title), the rice noodle soup hailing from Vietnam. I  know, I’m a little late to the party, but I’d officially like to start making up for lost time.

The rice noodles make this a perfect fit for a gluten-free diet, provided you make sure the tamari used is wheat-free. Pho is commonly made with beef, something I generally only consume once in every two or three blue moons (i.e. I’m pregnant and the baby demands it, or the likes of Thomas Keller is putting it in front of me). Heck, I don’t even eat poultry all that often. But in the early experimentation days of making my own version of pho, I don’t feel quite confident enough to put a solid tofu or otherwise-vegetarian version out there . . . yet. So without further ado:


14 ounces rice noodles
1 tablespoon  coconut oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 pound ground turkey
8 cups water (approximately)
juice and zest of one lime
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (or more to taste)
1/2 tablespoon wheat-free tamari
2 tablespoons sugar, honey, or other natural sweetener

Boil the rice noodles for 7 minutes, then drain, reserving the water. Set aside. Heat the coconut oil in a large stockpot, then add the onion, garlic and pepper. Saute for about 5 or 6 minutes, until starting to soften and become fragrant. Add the ground turkey and brown for another 3 or 4 minutes (does not have to be completely cooked through).

Add waterto the reserved rice water to total 8 cups, then add to stockpot, turning heat up to high. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat. Simmer for a good half an hour, at least, then, at long last, add the rice noodles. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes. Taste broth and adjust seasoning as desired.

And serve! Pho is traditionally served with an array of condiments to be added according to preference. Bean sprouts are strongly recommended. Sriracha and hoisin sauce at the ready are also de rigeur.  From there, experiment with additional fresh cilantro, basil, lime wedges, red pepper flakes, and so on – sky’s the limit!

Other pho-nies in the food blog world:

Vietnamese Beef Pho from Steamy Kitchen
Chicken Pho Noodle Soup from Viet Kitchen
Vegetarian Pho (hey!)  from The Kitchn
Crockpot Vietnamese Pho from A Year of Slow Cooking
Vietnamese Pho Bo from The Perfect Pantry

— posted by Anne

*With moo goo gai pan, something I don’t see on menus as often anymore, for some reason. Do you guys ever see it? For some reason, that just thrilled me as a kid. Not sure what was so appealing about chicken, mushrooms, bok choy and bamboo shoots to my child palate, but there you have it. It’s also possible I just liked saying it.

This post was part of the ongoing Pennywise Platter Thursdays series, hosted by Nourishing Gourmet. Be sure to visit for other great economical recipe ideas!


  1. says

    Interesting. I’ve been on a big noodle craze lately, I have no idea why – I just got a crazy craving for noodles!! Is that even possible? I’ve already tried nearly half of all the noodle recipe here and looking for more still! Crazy huh. I should probably stop soon, I dont think eating noodles every day isn’t that healthy…

  2. says

    Moo goo gai pan was my favorite as a child too. Since I’ve gotten a palate more interested in spicier fare, I haven’t eaten it in years. You’re making me wish I’d opted for the pho when I went out for Vietnamese food a few days ago. I’ve only ever had it made by my mother-in-law, who is Vietnamese, so I don’t know how I would feel about it in a restaurant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *