Recipes for one: Pho, the pinnacle of comfort foods

By on Mar 15th

Pho To Chau © by Bytemarks, used under Creative Commons license.

Now that I'm one of the growing crowd of people living apart together, I find it real hard to want to put anything but pizza in my mouth. Before Scott moved, dinner was a most-nights ritual. Usually I cooked, sometimes he did, but when 6 PM rolled around we sat down for a foodie lovefest. Now it's all I can do to eat anything not fast food-ful.

I'm trying to entice myself to eat more healthfully — and keep cooking for myself! — by taking the time to learn recipes I can be very excited about. This week? It's pho.

Pho is different for everyone. Personally, I usually eat it without meat (though most restaurants use meaty broths), with extra bean sprouts, and a touch of hoisin sauce. It's a super simple dish to make your own. I have some ideas for pho customization below.

This is roughly enough broth to be able to make a few small batches of pho.


  • 2 cups good quality low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup shiitake or portabella mushrooms
  • 1/2 an onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2″ piece of fresh ginger, thinly minced
  • 3 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 star anise or coriander
  • 1 green chili
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 small handful thai basil stems & leaves
  • 1 small handful cilantro stems & leaves
  • 1 8 ounce package dried rice noodles or a cup of rice
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 cups fresh mung bean or soybean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped or torn Thai basil
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish

Optional for serving: sliced fresh jalapenos, hoisin sauce, extra soy sauce, Sriracha, hot garlic chili sauce, mint leaves, hunks of meat, shrimp, lightly shredded carrot, dark greens.

For the broth

  1. Place the first 13 ingredients in a large soup pot with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce temperature and simmer mostly covered for 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Strain through a fine mesh colander to get all the bits out. Return the broth to the pot and bring back to temp over medium heat.

To assemble the soup

  1. Cook rice noodles according to the package — as a default method, cook half the noodles in boiling water for 3-4 minutes until tender, drain and rinse with some cool water quickly to stop the cooking. Drain these thoroughly.
  2. Distribute the noodles and cabbage in a serving bowl.
  3. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles.
  4. Top your bowl with fixings: some sprouts, basil, cilantro, a sprinkle of green onions and some lime.

Serve immediately.

Exactly how I fix mine

I added a bit of salt to my bowl, and replaced rice noodles with cooked rice — no noodles in my pantry! I glob on about a teaspoon of hoisin per bowl — and I serve it as HOT as possible!

I could use some help for other easy, whole food-y, meat-lo recipes for a lazy mope. Give me what you got!

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About Cat Rocketship

I was the Managing Editor of Offbeat Home for a year and a half. I have a rich Internet life and also a pretty good real life. Hobbies include D&D, Twitter, and working on making our household more self-reliant. I also draw things.