Friday, April 17, 2009

Spicy Phở-esque Soup with Bok Choy and Wheat Noodles

Whenever I'm feeling particularly under the weather, or when the rainy weather itself is making me blue, I head to Phở Dalat on SE 39th, just north of Hathorne, for a big bowl of their Special Combination Phở. The combination of rich, savory broth spiked with Vietnamese herbs, the soft noodles, and the big bunches of herbs is so fundamentally comforting, and it never fails to brighten my mood. This is my (somewhat accidental) take on a traditional Phở. It may not have the Saigon cinnamon, star anise, charred ginger, cloves, or black cardamom pods that give the real deal its complex flavor, but this chicken broth-based soup came alive with the addition of fresh herbs and Sriracha (the ubiquitous chili-garlic hot sauce).

I'm growing bok choy in my container garden on my back porch, and I'd been meaning to harvest some for a while. The weather has been pretty nice lately, and my herbs, lettuces, and other greens have been growing so fast its hard to keep up. What better way to use up ambitious veggies than to make a big pot of soup?

I chopped up the bok choy, sauteed it with garlic and red onion, and added a scoop of this onto a bowl of whole wheat noodles, and topped it all off with my spicy herbed chicken broth.

Traditional Phở is garnished with Thai basil, fresh chili peppers, lime wedges, and bean sprouts. My version uses fresh basil, and some perfect little orange limes I got at the farmers market. Yes, you read that correctly. LOCAL OREGON CITRUS!!!

I nearly cried when I saw these little guys, and I'll be sure the pick more up tomorrow. They added a great freshness to my soup, and, well, everything else I ate this week. Come on, if you've read this blog for more than a few weeks, you'll remember that citrus is my achilles heel when it comes to eating locally. But there they were, little limes masquerading as kumquats or tiny oranges.

Give this soup a try next time you have some extra herbs on hand. It's pretty simple, and I swear, it tastes so much like Phở, without the imported, hard to find spices. Here's to exotic-but-local comfort food, from my backyard to your computer screen. Eat well!.

Spicy Phở-esque Soup with Bok Choy and Wheat Noodles

8 cups Chicken Broth
2 inch chunk of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Big handful of fresh cilantro
Big handful of fresh parsley
Big handful of fresh mint
Big handful of fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
Sriracha, to taste
1/2 red onion
Olive Oil
1 lb. bok choy, chopped
Whole Wheat Noodles (I used spaghetti noodles)
lime slices

In a medium stockpot, bring chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, herbs, and sriracha. Simmer about 30 minutes.

Strain broth and return to pot over low heat.

Cook noodles to package directions, drain, and rinse. While the noodles cook, sauté onions in oil until translucent. Add bok choy and cook 5–10 minutes.

Divide noodles among six bowls. Add A scoop of bok choy mix to each bowl. Pour hot broth into bowls and garnish with basil and lime.


  1. My Dad brought home a big bag of bok choy from Chinatown, and has been begging for some soup. Thanks for the idea!

  2. how do you think this would be with veggie stock for the vegetarians out there?

  3. Hayley - Enjoy the bok choy!
    Lacey - I'd recommend using a good homemade broth, or if you're going to buy it, I've gotten good boxed soy-ginger broth (from Trader Joe's I think) that would be fantastic in this. Good luck!

  4. This looks amazing and your pictures or gorgeous!

  5. Wonderful blog, found it this morning while searching for Peruvian bus services, if you will?

    Have read through a lot, and enjoyed, wonderful pictures. I have linked you to my own blog Things That Fizz & Stuff:

    Will be back to explore further.