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Vietnamese Pho

The national dish of Vietnam, pho is a complex, lip-smacking soup that will fill your stomach and win your taste buds! Our low-fat version is all about the rich beef broth, which is infused with delicious spices. Vegetables and tofu swim in the silky broth, resulting in a nutritious soup that’s low in cholesterol and high in flavor.

Makes 4 servings. Total preparation time: 2 hours and 20 minutes.


1. In a large stockpot, bring 6 quarts water to a boil. Add mushrooms. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Add beef bones. Skim foam as it cooks.

2. To roast ginger, hold the piece with tongs directly over an open flame or place it directly on a medium-hot electric burner. While turning, char until the edges are slightly blackened and ginger is fragrant, about 7 minutes each side. Roast the onion in the same way. Add ginger and onions to the soup.

3. Add fish sauce and sugar. Wrap the star anise, cloves and cinnamon in a spice bag (or piece of cheesecloth) and add to the broth.

4. Remove the mushrooms, cool and slice. The broth needs to cook for 2-4 hours total (remove spice bag after 2 hours). Before serving, remove and discard both the spice bag and onions.

5. Add the salt and continue to simmer, skimming as necessary, until you’re ready to assemble the dish. The broth will taste a little salty but will be balanced once the noodles and accompaniments are added.

6. Boil 2 liters of water in a large pot. Add noodles and cook for 5-7 minutes until tender. Pour noodles into a colander and rinse with cold water to blanch. Place the cooked noodles in large individual bowls.

7. Blanch raw vegetables 7 minutes before serving. Bring the broth to a rolling boil; ladle about 2-3 cups into each bowl. Drop beef and sliced tofu into hot soup. Garnish with yellow onions, scallions and cilantro.

8. Serve immediately, inviting guests to garnish the bowls with bean sprouts, basil, jalapenos, lime, sriracha and more fish sauce or salt to taste.

Per serving: 482 calories, 9g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 35mg cholesterol, 819mg sodium, 243mg potassium, 75g total carbohydrate, 8g dietary fiber, 23g protein


1 pound dried shiitake mushrooms

1 pound beef long bones or neck bones rinsed with water
2 medium onions, 1 roasted
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roasted
4 star anise
5 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
2-4 tablespoons regular or veggie fish sauce, or 4 mashed anchovies
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups blanched vegetables (julienned carrots, kale, and broccoli)
1 16-ounce package brown rice or whole grain noodles (fettuccine, linguine or pho)
1⁄2 pound thinly sliced eye round beef and sliced tofu (firm, fried or seasoned)
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 scallion, sliced
1⁄2 cup fresh cilantro
1⁄2 cup fresh Thai basil, optional
Sliced jalapenos, optional
Lime wedges, optional
1 cup mung bean sprouts, optional
Sriracha and hoisin sauce, optional

We realize that you may not always have the time to cook meals from scratch, and that a quick and easy substitution may be needed. We always recommend cooking the real thing, but in a pinch you can try this instead:

Buy Pho soup broth, frozen vegetable mix and thinly sliced eye round beef. Cook linguine rice noodles and rinse with cold water. Heat pot with hot water and dip vegetables in boiling hot water to blanch then set aside. To serve, add noodles in bowl with blanched vegetables and top with sliced beef. Pour hot Pho broth over meat and vegetables. Top with sliced green onions. Offer basil, cilantro, sliced jalapenos and lime wedges for authentic flavor. Enjoy!