Faux Pho

An Americanized, paleo, kid-friendly version of the original Vietnamese soup.

Story

The moment I first discovered Pho, I was in love. The authentic Vietnamese dish starts with a deeply flavored broth made from chicken or beef with star anise, ginger and cinnamon, adds thinly sliced beef or chicken, and rice noodles. Then its topped with fresh herbs and vegetables, like cilantro, basil, green chiles, scallion and bean sprouts, and a squirt of lime. I loved it for its freshness, its wholesome, healthy ingredients and its complex, yet delicate flavors. Its a full meal, and like soup and salad all in one! When I have extra time, I make the more authentic version, but when I’m in a rush (like most school nights), I use whatever homemade chicken or beef broth I have recently made, and add whatever components I have on hand. Even when I don’t add the Vietnamese spices, it still tastes great. This works especially great the night after we’ve had a rotisserie chicken for dinner (my fast food!), and whose carcass has been used to make chicken broth overnight. I usually spiral some cucumber and/or zucchini in place of the noodles for a paleo version of the dish, but sometimes I offer rice noodles to the kids. I then julienne baby carrots and bell peppers (and a jalapeno for us adults), chop some scallion, cherry tomato and herbs, then let the kids dress up their own soups. Because they helped make it, they enjoy eating it all the more. Pho is one of their all-time favorite meals (and mine, too!)

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ginger
6 cups homemade beef, bone or chicken broth
1 tablespoon star anise (optional)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon (optional)
2 teaspoons fish oil (optional)
2 cups leftover cooked chicken or roast beef (rare is best!), sliced
2 cups of spiralized zucchini or cucumber
1/2 cup each of fresh veggies, such as baby carrots, scallions, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers (green chilies for adults!)
1/2 bunch of fresh herbs like basil and/or cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon each of spices such as fennel seed, red pepper flakes (optional)
2 limes, cut into wedges
salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Instructions

Saute garlic and ginger over medium heat. Add broth and turn to high. Add star anise, cinnamon and fish oil. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Meanwhile chop your fresh veggies and herbs. Place them on a serving tray where everyone can reach them.

Pour one ladle-full of broth into each of four bowls. Add leftover chicken or roast beef and let warm through. If using leftover rice, you can add it now, too. If using rice noodles, you can cook them in the broth before pouring into the bowls. Once the meat is warmed, add more broth (fill about 2/3 of the way – you need to leave room for the veggies!). Add zucchini and/or cucumber noodles, if you are using them, instead.

Let everyone top of their soup with chopped veggies and herbs of their choice. Top with fresh fennel seed, red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lime.

(To make low FODMAP, omit the garlic, only use the green parts of the scallions and do not overload on the veggies. Also be sure the original broth is garlic- and onion-free).