Hey, friends! Today we’re making what I call a “lazy person’s Pho,” which is a little out of my cooking comfort zone, to be honest. But I’m so glad I attempted this Vietnamese-inspired soup, because it turned out delicious and was super easy to make.
Hands down the most iconic dish of Vietnam, Pho is a clear-beef or chicken-based broth with rice noodles, herbs and thinly-sliced meat that is traditionally simmered for hours.
I was surprised to learn the Vietnamese usually eat it for breakfast — because it’s light and nourishing. Anyway, this Pho-inspired soup comes together quickly because we’re using store-bought broth instead of making our own. I took a lot of liberties with tradition, but we both really liked the results and I’m excited to make this again with different add-ins.
This all started because I wanted to cook with bok choy. My inspiration recipe called for baby bok choy and whole star anise — but I couldn’t find either one near me. So that sent me down a path of improvising and here we are! This is a brothy soup that will satisfy and may even surprise you in its simplicity.
Let’s take a look at the main ingredients
Bok Choy — You can use baby bok choy or regular bok choy. As I understand it, baby bok choy is a little sweeter. Bok choy is a cruciferous vegetable, putting it in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Bok choy is high in vitamins C and K, and also offers some fiber. You use the whole plant when making this soup.
Shallots + Scallions — Shallots have a delicate and sweet flavor with a hint of sharpness, while onions would bring a more intense heat. Same with scallions — they’re going to add a milder onion taste.
Garlic and Fresh Ginger — I can’t claim this soup will cure anything, but garlic and ginger are widely believed to have flu- and cold-fighting properties. A bowl of this can’t hurt if you’re feeling under the weather.
Low-Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth — Here’s where we’re breaking with tradition and opening a carton or jar instead of simmering meat and bones for hours. Using pre-made broth makes this whole recipe come together quickly.
Rice Noodles or Ramen Noodles — I used Ramen (minus the seasoning packet), but you can use any noodle of choice.
Soy Sauce — I’m not a huge fan because of its high sodium but it does add depth of flavor. Next time I’ll probably use low-sodium soy sauce. If you’re gluten-free, tamari will do it.
Seasonings — As mentioned, I couldn’t easily find whole star anise — which has a licorice flavor and is simmered in the broth but not eaten. I subbed Chinese five-spice powder and then finished the soup off with some anise seed, to taste. Here’s a cool resource for what to substitute for whole star anise. If you’re not a fan of anise at all, try a cinnamon stick or two instead.
Add-Ins — This can be mushrooms, chicken, pork or shrimp, if you’d like. I added about 3 ounces of chopped shrimp (pre-cooked deveined shrimp with tails removed). If you’re going with mushrooms, use about 10 oz. of crimini mushrooms, sliced. If you’re opting for chicken or pork, you’ll need to pre-cook it or use leftover cooked meat, sliced thin. I think this soup would be excellent with pork.
Garnishes — Don’t skip this part. Garnish with scallions, red pepper flakes, and more anise seed to taste, if desired. We even added a splash of lemon juice. Yum!
FAQ for Ginger Noodle Soup with Bok Choy
Can I freeze this soup? Yes and no. You can freeze the broth, but you don’t want to freeze the bok choy, noodles and other vegetables. No worries — the bok choy and noodles only take minutes to cook so can be added to the broth when re-heating it.
Does this taste good leftover? Ginger Noodle Soup with Bok Choy is best served fresh. Just as with freezing it, however, you can make the broth and keep the bok choy and noodles separate. [Note: We did mix it all up and eat it the next day, adding a bit more chicken broth before re-heating. The noodles and bok choy weren’t too mushy for us. But I can understand why eating it fresh is recommended.]
Do I need to pre-cook the noodles? No. Both rice noodles and ramen noodles cook super fast. You’ll be adding them to the broth just before serving.
Looking for more soup recipes?
Three of the Best Lentil Soups with Lemon
Ginger Noodle Soup with Bok ChoyCourse: Lunch
This Pho-inspired soup comes together quickly and makes a tasty and nutritious lunch or light dinner.
1 TBSP. olive oil
3 shallots, diced
1 bunch scallions, chopped; Divide white from green parts; save green part for garnish.)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP. fresh ginger, minced
5.5 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 TBSP. soy sauce (tamari for gluten-free option)
6 oz. rice noodles or ramen noodles (discard seasoning packet from Ramen or reserve it for another use.)
1 head bok choy, roughly chopped
Two whole star anise, if using them. I couldn’t find this ingredient, so substituted with the following:
1 tsp. anise seed
1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder OR substitute for this ingredient with 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. fennel seed and 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Green parts of the scallions
Red pepper flakes
Additional anise seed, if desired
- Heat olive oil in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add the diced shallots and cook about 4-5 minutes or until they turn translucent, stirring often.
- Add the chopped white part of the scallions, minced garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Pour the chicken or vegetable stock into the pot carefully. Add the seasonings (or two whole star anise if using them) and the soy sauce. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes.
- (Discard the whole star anise if you used it.) Add the uncooked noodles, bok choy and any add-ins (mushrooms, chicken, shrimp, etc.) and simmer an additional 5 to 8 minutes or until the bok choy is tender. Serve hot with garnishes. Enjoy!
- Note to Clarify: To make this with whole star anise, add two of them in Step 3 above and remove them from the pot in Step 4, as indicated. DO NOT bite into whole anise; If you use star anise, I would probably omit the anise seed and Chinese five-star powder. I haven’t tried it this way.
- My inspiration for this soup came from theforkedspoon.com. I made several substitutions to her recipe based on available ingredients and our tastes.
I’d love to hear from you if you give this recipe a try. Let us all know in the comments what add-ins or substitutions you made and how it turned out. And as always, feel free to ask questions.
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