No-Pho Soup, Thai Style

May 17, 2013
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

My husband loves Vietnamese Pho, even though he's not a soup maven. I have worked out a vegetarian version to make at home which passes his approval threshold, if marginally. Thinking about coconut, and how I love Thai soups with a coconut base, I fused elements from both for this soup.
My models came from Nava Atlas's Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons, and Jules Clancy's blog, www.thestonesoup.com (Green Curry Broccoli Soup).
To me, this is less a recipe than a framework that changes with the season and the contents of my refrigerator and pantry. The vegetables you choose can make it different every time. And the heat levels! Nava has no chiles, Jules uses considerable more than the level that suits me. Your heat source can come from any of the Thai curry pastes, any of the Asian chili sauces or sambals, or the hot sauce you know and love, whatever its origin.
My new comfort food! —susan g

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried wakame (seaweed)
  • 1/2 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (see NOTE)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 cup canned Thai coconut milk
  • 6 - 8 ounces firm non-GMO tofu
  • 4 - 8 ounces baby bok choy, sliced 1/2" thick
  • 4 ounces pho-type noodles (see NOTE)
  • Assorted additions, such as cilantro, basil, mint, scallions, mung sprouts, lime wedges
  1. Soak the seaweed in warm water while you make the soup base.
  2. Put your soup pot on medium heat and add the oil. Add garlic, ginger and shallots and lower the heat a little. Stir as they soften, then add the 5 spice powder and stir to coat the seasonings, until they are fragrant.
  3. Heat 2 cups of water and add to the pot. Then add another 2 cups of water and the soy sauce and stir. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the broth simmers gently, partially covered, for about 20 minutes..
  4. Dilute the curry paste with a ladle of soup liquid and add to the soup pot. Stir in another cup of water and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then add the tofu, bok choy and drained seaweed. (The soaking water may have sand, so I don't use it.)
  5. While the soup is coming to a boil again, prepare the noodles according to directions given on the package. When they are ready, drain.
  6. When the soup has come to a boil, you can take it off the heat. Stir in the noodles and it is ready to serve.
  7. Put soup in bowls with a balance of all the ingredients. Use tongs to take the noodles out, so they don't slip away from the soup ladle. Put out a dish or dishes of the extras, and let everyone finish the soup to individual tastes.
  8. NOTE: If you use gluten free soy sauce, the soup will be gluten free. You can reduce the sodium by using low-sodium soy sauce, or reducing the amount. Pho noodles are made from rice. Just about any other kind of Asian noodles or Western pasta could be substituted.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sherry E
    Sherry E
  • BoulderGalinTokyo
  • aargersi
  • boulangere
  • susan g
    susan g

9 Reviews

Sherry E. February 11, 2019
must try, love the suggestions on making this your own while having a template from which to explore...one may feel adventurous yet not fly without a net!
BoulderGalinTokyo June 8, 2013
Interesting combination of flavors, I look forward to trying it. Just curious, I don't usually soak the wakame. I do soak konbu and hijiki sea vegetables (seaweed) as they are tougher. I also soak the wakame that is salt-packed half-fresh kept in the fridge-type, is that what you are using?
susan G. June 8, 2013
I used dried wakame. My education on seaweeds comes from macrobiotic cooking classes, years ago. I think it was there that we were told to soak all seaweeds because it would remove any sand or 'foreign objects' that might be hidden in/with it, so the soak water is not used. Yes, wakame could be tossed in the to soup -- it soaks up the liquid in moments. (Foreign objects? Strange phrase when you think about it.) And thank you for getting me to look more closely at what I do!
BoulderGalinTokyo July 1, 2013
Washing the seaweed is recommended. And I did laugh over "foreign objects", but after the huge tsunami devastation of entire cities, you might possibly find a foreign object that was swept out to sea.

I eat different seaweeds, I believe they help control my appitite. But I have never learned to like the 'sliminess' (daughter believes that's the healthy ingredient). So with wakame, I don't soak it, and serve almost immediately, but it still turns slimy. So I was just wondering if you had discovered something here...
aargersi May 21, 2013
Yum! I want! Good thing we have a three day weekend and testing ahead!!!
Kelleyrr May 19, 2013
Wondering what amount of noodles to use? Am I missing it somewhere?
susan G. May 19, 2013
Sorry! My pho-type rice noodles were about 4 oz. For me that made a good amount, but more or less would work, as would another type of noodle... fixing it now, and thanks for catching it.
boulangere May 18, 2013
Susan, what an inspired soup! I have a serious soy allergy, so would likely sub chicken for the tofu. Other than that, your flavors are heavenly, right up to and including the lime!
susan G. May 18, 2013
Thank you! This just asks to be played with.