Vietnam is known for its national dish pho, a savory noodle soup that rivals ramen. Although some people might think a bowl of soup can never be more than a side dish, pho is hearty, filling and flavorful enough to take the main stage.

What Ingredients Are Found In Pho?

Pho is a versatile dish that can be catered to your liking, but is typically comprised of chicken or beef broth, rice noodles, slices of beef or chicken and a hearty helping of herbs, spices and garnishes including cilantro, basil, bean sprouts and fresh lime for a delicious umami flavor. If you're looking to spice things up a bit, add a splash of sriracha sauce or even a few jalapeños to give your noodles a kick.

overhead shot of two bowls of pho with chopsticks

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Is Pho Healthy?

The average medium bowl of pho contains about 350 to 400 calories as well as supplying nutrients, and it fills you up without the need to consume excessive calories.

Opting for beef or chicken in your pho provides necessary protein.But despite its low calories, the broth in pho typically contains a ton of sodium, which can raise your blood pressure and cause weight gain if consumed in large quantities. Although this broth-based food can be high in sodium, you can make it homemade for a more heart-healthy option.

How To Make Your Own Pho

Authentic Pho

Authentic Vietnamese pho is filled with the aforementioned ingredients -- beef or chicken broth, spices, sauces and vegetables. This recipe requires some dedication to prepare, but the mouthwatering result is well worth the time and effort.

bowl of pho ga on wooden surface

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Pho Ga

This recipe combines traditional pho with chicken noodle soup to create Pho Ga. When made with beef, the dish is called Pho Bo. Instead of the thinly sliced meat, the chicken or beef in this dish is shredded or cut into chunks for a thicker component.

Vegan Pho

This plant-based recipe ditches the meat broth for vegetable broth and adds mushrooms and a few other vegetables to make it more hearty. This dish is perfect for any vegan or vegetarian.

Faux Pho

The traditional pho recipe takes hours to cook, and not everyone has the time to spend cooking noodle soup all day. This quick recipe is perfect for people in a time crunch -- just take some store-bought flavored ramen and add your desired meats, vegetables, spices and sauces for a delicious meal.

pho with shrimp in bowl in chop sticks

JoannaTkaczuk/Shutterstock

Tips And Tricks

You don't have to spend an entire day preparing this meal. Use these shortcuts for a quick, tasty bowl in you are in a hurry:

  • All you need is a few ingredients to satisfy your pho cravings, and you can whip a quick and easy bowl together by purchasing pre-made beef broth. Don't forget to add spices such as cloves and cinnamon in order to achieve that distinct, savory pho flavor.
  • Don't worry about running to the grocery store for fresh beef -- you can use any meat you already have on hand. Use steak or turkey instead to make good use out of dinner leftovers. Just grab some fresh cilantro, basil or a few jalapeños to really make the flavor pop.
  • You don't have to stick to these recipes. Pho is a complex dish that you can easily experiment with without "ruining" it. Leave out the spices or vegetables you don't like, add some new flavors until you find the ingredients for your perfect bowl.

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