Since my schedule had run amok, I went to “lunch” before 9 a.m. at my favorite Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant. My “usual” wasn’t being served yet, so I pointed at a steaming bowl my neighbor seemed to be ecstatically devouring. I quickly realized it was “pho,” the national soup of Vietnam. It’s so popular that it had made the Oxford Dictionary (described as: A type of Vietnamese soup, typically made from beef stock and spices to which noodles and thinly sliced beef or chicken are added.) I will occasionally eat meat, so I’d tried it a few times in cafes and on the street.
But vegetarian pho? I’m happy to report that I’d never tasted a better pho.
The key to a healthy, as well as tasty pho, really depends on what you put in it—my street pho likely contains more salt and fat than optimal. It has a soup stock made by cooking beef, pork or chicken bones. But good restaurants remove the excess fat at the top when cooking these bones, making their meals both healthy and delicious. A good analysis of the nutritional value of traditional pho can be found here. The vitamin A, D, calcium and iron are a real plus, and that can improve by your choice of herbs and vegetables.
I found a lovely recipe for pho from Vegetarian Times. When I’m back in Florida, I’ll likely often use the Vegetarian Times recipe. But for now, I’m blessed to be in Vietnam, with an amazing little vegetarian restaurant serving the best pho I can imagine.