Vietnamese Noodle Soup (Pho) , a not so traditional version for VLCD

Well, my creative bones have started creaking, so I had to scratch the itch ! It has been far too long between Optifast intensive phase recipes, life got in the way & I do hope the 100 or so I have done have sustained you.
We undertook a tree change nearly two years ago, well actually moved back “home” to raise our son the same way. It’s been fabulous but very busy settling back into life here, considering we live up the top of a big mountain, nearly off the grid & self sufficient. Now that the weather is turning and we are stuck inside a bit more, plus it is comfort food time now, I will be doing some new recipes regularly. I have so many ideas it is driving me batty, so got to get them out of my head.

Anyway, this is my take on Vietnamese Pho soup. It is definately not a traditional or even rip-off version, I would have no hope, it is just something I came up with reading recipes for it & trying to get the flavours right from what I remembered from all the endless takeaway versions I have had. I hope you like it.

While it is extremely simple, you do have the upfront investment of the star anise, cinnamon sticks & cloves, if you don’t already have them in your cupboard. You can find these cheaply in tiny packets in the supermarket or Asian food stores. You really do need the star anise as it is in every Pho recipe I have seen. You also have the fresh herbs to buy too. I now have a garden with these in it, but feel free to choose only two, say coriander & spring onions, if money is tight. Look for reduced bunches of these in the supermarket as they will be getting dipped into the hot broth anyway.

If desired (and you  are not following a vegan lifestyle), you can use bones in the cooking process to flavour it, such as beef or chicken. You will need to cook it longer to draw the flavour out & add 1 tsp of vinegar to the broth to help this process. Cook time would be approx. 1 hour or longer if you can.

Put any leftover broth in the fridge and eat over a few days, well that’s what I did anyway, or freeze the rest in cup size portions for a very quick dinner.

If you are new to spiralised vegetables, such as the zucchini used in this recipe, check out this basic tutorial here from  : How to Spiralize 

So, in summary, it is fragrant, delish & very easy to cook … & eat.


Vietnamese Noodle Soup (Pho)
Serves 6
A very fragrant clear Vietnamese style broth with zucchini or konjac noodles and plenty of fresh toppings.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Pho Broth
  1. 2 litres of stock (I use Massel vegan chicken stock)
  2. 1 brown onion
  3. 3 cloves garlic (whole preferred), if using minced use 1 tsp only
  4. 4 whole cloves
  5. 1 cinnamon stick
  6. 4 whole star anise
  7. 1 tbs ginger, fresh or minced
  8. 2 tbs soy sauce
  9. 2 zucchini peeled & spiralised or 1 packet Konjac noodles such as Slendier or Changs brands (angel hair or noodle style)
Toppings (take your pick)
  1. Small handful of fresh mint, coriander, basil and spring onions
  2. Small handful of bean sprouts
  3. 2 large field mushrooms (or other), chopped vertically into thick slices
  4. Fresh chilli, sliced thinly, seeds removed
  1. Cut onion into quarters, peel & chop the garlic, slice ginger thinly (if using fresh). In a large saucepan add the stock, onion, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, star anise & ginger. Bring it to the boil. Reduce heat & allow to simmer away for at least 30 mins. Add the soy sauce & continue cooking as you prepare your toppings.
  2. For the toppings, saute the mushrooms in a little spray oil, remove the leaves from the herbs, chop the spring onions finely.
  3. Make your zucchini zoodles or remove and rinse the Konjac noodles as per instructions.
  4. Strain your Pho broth into a container to remove all the chunky spices. This will keep in the fridge for around 5 days or freeze in portions. Place enough broth for your meal back into the saucepan & put your noodles in & let sit to cook through for a few minutes. It is important to cook the noodles at the last minute or else they may go mushy (zoodles) or tough (Konjac noodles).
  5. Place in your bowl, adding your toppings (as pictured) and eat !
  1. If reheating, simply place your portion in a small saucepan or microwave, heat to hot, add your noodles, let sit then add your toppings as above.
  2. You can also use a meat stock or bones to flavour, if you are not vegan, ensuring you remove all the meat & fat before consuming for VLCD.
  3. Add any toppings you like such as fried eggplant, broccolini, sliced carrot, bok choy, red capsicum
  4. Sriracha hot chilli sauce etc.
  5. This recipe makes 6 serves at 2 cups each including the toppings, or 6-8 cups of broth depending on how much is lost in the cooking process.
Adapted from Emma Christensen, The Kitchn
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