The weather is cooling down and that means soup’s often on the menu in our home. And with kids who have opposite tastes, I’m always experimenting with delicious AND healthy soup recipes that the entire family will enjoy.
Recently I discovered Pho. Pronounced – fuh – it is one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, right up there with Banh Mi. If you knew my past addiction to these Vietnames sandwiches you would know how much I love Pho. A hearty soup with rice noodles, a light broth topped with herbs, fresh vegetables and tofu – what’s not to love.
And with the addition of ginger and bok choy, this soup makes for a nutritious meal perfect for the cold and flu season.
Easy and Healthy Soup Recipes – Vietnamese Vegetarian Pho
Pho is traditionally a combination of rice noodles and broth and various toppings. I had it for the first time in Calgary, Alberta. If you dug a hole from Vietnam and came out the other side of the planet, that’s where you’d probably end up. From the tropics of Vietnam to the freezing, cold of Canada – it’s amazing how well this this soup travels.
While the dish was a longtime favourite, I didn’t try and make it at home till many years later. I’m glad I finally did. Not only do the kids love the DIY element where they can add or take away toppings as per their tastes, I can sneak in healthy ingredients AND end up with an easy weeknight meal. Win! Win! Win!
Think – chicken noodle soup made vegan with pizzazz bursting with Asian flavours that warm you right up.
Tips from a Real-life Kitchen
Cook all the elements separately, and then lay the table. Let your family serve themselves – this is my kids’ favourite part.
- I was a newbie to Bok Choy till a few months ago and now it’s one of my favourite vegetables. Bok Choy is easier to handle than cabbage and is high in Vitamins esp Vit C. Like cabbage it holds up flavours really well and doesn’t wilt as easily. You do need to wash the bunches of Bok Choy really well. Trim the bottom and then wash again.
- If there is time before everybody gathers at the table then toss the rice noodles with some oil and salt and they won’t get lumpy.
- Use flat rice noodles for this recipe. They work with my mostly wheat-free diet, and add a heartiness that my family needs to elevate this from a simple soup dinner.
- I add jalapenos or birds eye chillies (the red Thai Chillies) if I’m lucky enough to spot them in my grocery store.
- Keep the broth as clear as possible. Sieve it a couple of times if you’re making it at home. For the sake of convenience, I use Low-Sodium broth that’s available in a tetrapak in most groceries. That means I can adjust the seasoning at the end. Nothing worse than too-salty soup.
- For the protein, I use Tofu here since this is one recipe where kids WILL eat Tofu without complaining. Meat is an easy sell with my family if you know what I mean.
Vietnamese-style Soup - Pho with Tofu
For the Broth
- 1 tsp oil
- 1/2 cup onions white
- 1 in ginger
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup of water
- 1 L of low sodium vegetable broth
- For the Crispy Tofu
- 2 tsp oil
- 2 bunches of small Bok Choy chopped white ends and green leaves separately
- 400 gms of Tofu
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- Salt to taste
- 200 gms of rice noodles
- Handful of chopped herbs - cilantro or basil work well
- 2 tbsp roasted unsalted peanuts
- Sriracha and/ or green chillies
For the Broth
- Saute the chopped onions on med heat. Be careful not to let the onions change colour. Browned onions will darken the broth.
- Add in the white parts of bok choy, finely chopped garlic and ginger and let them cook down.
- Pour in the low-sodium broth and let it boil once. Add in the water and check for salt - add if needed
For the Crispy Tofu
- Chop tofu in long thin slices and fry on med heat.
- Tofu takes a lot longer to cook than you expect. It needs to relese it's liquid and darken just a little.
- Once it gets a little brown add in the green leaves of Bok Choy along with soy sauce.
- Saute a few more minutes to let the flavours blend together.
- In the meanwhile chop the toasted peanute and basil leaves. You could use herbs of your choice here. Cilantro goes really well my youngest doesn't like it.
For the Rice Noodles
- Follow the directions on the packet.
- One caveat: rice noodles take less time to cook than pasta