Making your own pho broth is definitely not as hard as you think!
All it takes is a little time and the right spices and voila!
You’ve got an unctuous, rich broth that’s the perfect base for this classic Vietnamese dish.
It’s my favorite broth to have in the freezer, ready to pull out if I’m under the weather or just craving some really flavorful, nutrient-dense food.
Pho broth is essentially bone broth with different flavorings (mainly warming spices).
It’s a perfect food for improving gut health with its soothing gelatin, restoring your own bones, skin, and connective tissue with collagen and minerals your body immediately recognizes, and helping you to recover from an illness.
Pro-tip #1: Always keep some bone broth frozen. When you’re feeling sick, it’s the last time you want to go out and get food for yourself! Broth is easy to digest and rich in protein and minerals. It won’t tax your system to eat and it will speed your recovery.
Pro-tip #2: buy organic, grass fed bones. Everything in those bones is going right into your body. Leave the crap behind and get bones from healthy animals with fat loaded with omega-3s, vitamin A, E, and antioxidants. A few bones make A LOT of pho broth!
Beef Pho Broth
Adapted from Ladled by Kimberly Harris
- 2-3lb beef bones (ideally knuckle; do not buy marrow bones, these will just add tons of fat)
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 3in piece ginger
- 1/4c whole fennel seeds
- 10 whole cloves
- 5 star anise
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 5 cardamom pods
- 4 tsp high mineral salt
- 1/4 c fish sauce (tamari or soy sauce will also work)
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
Toast ginger and onion in a cast iron skillet or under a broiler until charred on both sides, about 15min.
In a large pot, cover beef bones with water and bring to boil for 2-3min.
Strain off so you have a clearer broth. Scrub the pot and return the bones to the pot, covering them with about 16 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
Once ginger and onions are lightly charred, remove from skillet to cool.
Toast fennel and cloves for 1-2min in the cast iron skillet, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. Add the pot.
Toast star anise, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom pods for 2-3min, stirring as needed, until browned. Smash cardamom pods open, remove seeds, and add all spices plus the salt to the pot.
Peel onions and ginger when they are cool enough to handle. Remove the root ends of onions. Add both to the pot.
Simmer, covered, for 3-12 hours, stirring occasionally.
BONUS: it still tastes amazing after only 3 hours, so don’t worry if you can’t get in the full 12!
Strain through fine stainless steel sieve. I recommend keeping the fat as it adds richness and flavor, but you could also strain some off after the broth has cooled.
Flavor broth with fish sauce, coconut sugar, and add more salt if needed to taste.
Now add all of your pho fixings! Here are some of my favorites:
- Pulled chicken
- Thinly sliced beef
- Rice noodles
- Sliced jalapenos
- Thai basil (or regular basil if you can’t find it)
- Bean sprouts
- Lime wedges to squeeze over the top
- Hoisin sauce
You could also load this pho up with veggies like thinly sliced kale, onion slices or green onions, carrots, and spinach.
Like most soups, the broth gets better as the flavors meld after a few days.
Pro-tip #3: For excess broth, allow it to cool completely before storing, especially if you’re storing it in plastic. When you defrost it, avoid hot water on the plastic. Heating plastic leaches chemicals directly into your food that are major endocrine and hormone disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer in women and lower sperm counts in men.
Enjoy your wonderful broth that's sure to warm and satisfy you!