Quick and Easy Vietnamese Pho

I was reading this Lucky Peach Pho article the other day, and it got me craving a nice, warm bowl of pho. I wanted this recipe to be a quick and easy cheat - that it be something you can make fast and will satisfy your craving, but do a good job of it. I ended up creating a chicken version and a vegetarian version with tofu. Both are great and the protein can be added last minute in case there are people who eat one or the other.

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Surprisingly, although there are all these complex flavors - star anise, cinnamon, corriander and cloves, the soup comes together really well even after just 30 minutes. To save time, I cooked my proteins in the broth and also my rice noodles, which I soaked in cold water first (big tip!). This broth is definitely one you can freeze and the next time you get a craving or want to make a quick dinner, just melt the broth and add some cooked chicken and rice noodles.

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Really though, pho is one of those rare instances where neither the protein nor the noodles are the star of the dish; it's the background broth surrounding the whole thing that gives this Vietnamese noodle dish its distinctive and uttering delicious characteristic. Hope you all enjoy!

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Quick & Easy Vietnamese Pho Noodles Recipe

(Serves 2)

  • 2 portions rice noodle, soaked in cold water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 large onion
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 3 cups broth (vegetable, chicken or beef)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce (optional if vegetarian)
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt to taste
  • cooked slices of beef, chicken or tofu
  • 1/2 cup edamame
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • cilantro, for garnish
  • 2 wedges lime


  1. In a pot over medium to medium high heat, toast the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and corriander seeds for about 3 minutes or until fragrant. Pour out spices onto a plate and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, slice up one whole onion, reserving half for garnish along with the ginger. Then smash the garlic clove and set aside.
  3. In the same pot as the spices, add in 2 tablespoons of oil along with the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes until it is slightly charred.
  4. Put in the broth and the spices and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add in soy sauce and fish sauce. Add sugar and salt to taste.
  6. Then add in soaked noodles for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Strain out and set aside.
  7. Heat up the edamame and protein in the broth. Cook for about 2 minutes.
  8. Prepare scallions, cilantro and lime wedges for garnish and assemble.