Quick Pho Recipe. Gluten-Free

Pho is a popular Vietnamese noodle soup

It includes broth, rice noodles, vegetables and meat.

It has traveled beautifully, and has become a complete meal comfort food in many homes and restaurants around the world.

It usually uses as its base beef bone broth that cooks gently and hurriedly overnight, sometimes even longer. If you have time to make it, more power to you. Here is a wonderful bone broth recipe. I will not go here into the making of a beef bone broth. Certainly not because I don’t think beef broth is wonderful and wonderfully nourishing, but because my goal here is to encourage you to make pho on short notice.

So my solutions to a bone-broth-less pho are:

Needless to say, a perfect natural vegan broth is in my eyes much more valuable than a commercial store-bought broth.

– Kale Rib Kelp Broth. Instructions right below

– Miso paste, and a good splash of sake

There are no hard and fast rules to what pho should include

However, some key ingredients are always in place:

  • Very thin sliced meat. The meat practically cooks on contact, in seconds, and is added all the way at the end of cooking. Seitan and/or tofu for a vegetarian version
  • Sprouts, lime, cilantro and scallions are added just before serving

I think of Pho as the culinary love child between miso soup and pad thai.

Indeed many ingredients included in miso soup, pad thai and ramen soup are showcased in pho, and the recipe is just as elastic as for these two great favorites.

I will include some of my favorite ingredients, and you will play with your broth and your vegetables as you see fit

But first, a word about the broth in Asian Soups:

Whereas in every country of origin, the broth is lovingly and unhurriedly simmered, in some cases even for days, in many Americans homes the broth gets short shrift. Unfortunately, many recipes list mediocre – or at best, nondescript – canned or bottled vegetable broth or chicken broth or beef broth, so strictly speaking, the soup is not made from scratch, and all the delicious broth intricacies are often lost on us.
I do have a possible, even probable, antidote for this shortcoming:
kale rib kelp broth

Kale Rib Kelp Broth

Y’all promise me you’ll never again throw any ribs from any bunch of greens you buy!
This is one of my great favorites: kale. Use the leaves for salad, soup or sauté.
Bring the ribs and water to boil with a little kelp aka kombu (I love it ground but you can use the whole leaf), alone or directly in your soup. Then remove the ribs, they have given all their nutritiousness and deliciousness to the cause. Yup, that’s the whole story. You wouldn’t believe how delicious, deep and briny this broth is. Umami at its best! I even drink it like tea, just as is, and use it in soup. I even throw the ribs in Cholent.

Attention Vegetarian Friends:

Pho is for you too! Simply skip the sliced beef, and add seitan strips and/or firm tofu cubes


  • 8 cups water (if you have homemade natural beef or chicken broth, use that)
  • 3 thin carrots, sliced very thin
  • 3 ribs celery, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 1 pound shiitake, caps only, sliced very thin
  • 5-6 ribs nappa cabbage, sliced very thin
  • 2/3 cups miso paste (skip if you used beef broth or kale rib kelp broth)
  • 1/2 cup dry sake, optional
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 green or red jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 cheesecloth tied around: 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 star anise pods, 1 rib coarsely chopped lemongrass, 2 inch coarsely chopped piece ginger
  • 1/2 pound rice noodles


  • Garnishes:
  • 1 1/2 pounds London broil, well chilled, sliced very thin (vegetarian: use strips of seitan and/or diced firm tofu)
  • 2 cups soy bean sprouts
  • 6-8 sprigs cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 basil leaves, packed, sliced very thin
  • 8 scallions, sliced very thin
  • 2 limes, cut in wedges


Bring all soup ingredients to a boil. As soon as it is boiled, turn off the heat. Discard the cheesecloth bag.

While the soup comes to a boil, divide all the garnishes evenly between 6 soup bowls. Pour the boiling broth over the garnishes. Serve hot.

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