Friday, February 12, 2016

Soups for Cold & Flu Season, Part II: Phở Chay

For part two of the Soups for Cold & Flu Season series, I'd like to share my personal favorite-Ph Chay (aka. vegetarian Vietnamese noodle soup). If your sinuses are congested, make sure not to skimp on the hot peppers or chile garlic sauce; the spiciness thins mucus and will help clear out the congestion. This soup is packed with nutrients, easy-to-digest carbohydrates, and hydrating broth--perfect for when you're feeling under-the-weather.

Ph Chay (Vegetarian Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

Ph Chay (Vegetarian Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

8 cups vegetable stock/broth (homemade is best, but you can use store bought)
1 small onion, cut into quarters (no need to peel)
2 whole black cardamom fruit (substitute 4 green cardamom pods, if needed)*
3 inches fresh ginger root, sliced lengthwise into 4 slices*
2-inch piece of licorice root, optional*
2, 3-inch pieces of cinnamon stick*
4 star anise*
8 whole cloves*
½ teaspoon coriander seeds*
½ teaspoon peppercorns*
Soy sauce, to taste
8 ounces whole cremini or shiitake mushrooms, washed or brushed free of dirt
1 package (about 14 ounces) Firm tofu (not silken, can be fresh, baked, or fried), drained, patted dry, and cut into 1-inch cubes, optional
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets, optional

1/2 pound dried flat rice noodles (called bánh ph), use the 1/8 or 1/4–inch wide noodles

Toppings (use all of them or just pick a few):
Tofu, from above
Broccoli, from above
Mushrooms, from above
1 small bunch fresh basil (Thai basil, if possible), leaves only
1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves only
1 small bunch cilantro, leaves only
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, thinly sliced
1-2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 small bunches of bok choy, thinly sliced
2 cups bean sprouts
1 lime, cut into wedges
Hoisin sauce
Chile garlic sauce

1. Make broth: In a 4-quart sauce pan, combine stock and spices (cardamom, licorice, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, coriander seeds). Simmer together, covered, for 15-30 minutes. Add soy sauce to taste (usually a couple of teaspoons) and whole mushrooms; simmer another 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove mushrooms and set aside to use as a garnish. Strain broth to remove spices then return to heat to keep warm for serving. Add tofu and broccoli (if using) to the broth 1-2 minutes before serving.
Spice Mix for Broth*

2. Make noodles: While the broth is simmering, place noodles into a large bowl with warm water and soak 15 minutes. Then drain noodles and place into a pot of boiling water for 3-5 minutes, or until al dente. Do not cook until completely soft. Drain. If you are not serving them immediately, run cold water over the noodles to stop the cooking.

3. Prepare toppings: While the broth is simmering and the noodles are soaking, prepare the toppings as directed above. Set them all out on a large platter so that each person can add toppings of their choosing.
Selected Toppings

4. Serve: Portion out 2 cups of boiling hot broth into each of 4 serving bowls (use large soup bowls). Divide the noodles between the bowls. Everyone can then add toppings of their choice at the table. Hoisin and chile garlic sauce are used to season the soup once all of the other toppings are added. Hoisin gives the soup a salty, savory, umami flavor. Chile garlic sauce adds spiciness, and of course, garlic.

Makes 4 servings

*Tip: You can often find a packet of spices for ph at markets with an extensive selection of Vietnamese ingredients. If using a spice packet, use enough spices for 4 servings and omit the cardamom, ginger, peppercorns, licorice root, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and coriander seeds from the recipe.


  1. So glad I found you! Read your story, in Hoda's book. Thought I was eating healthy and doing great about exercise. Then GERD,along with possible IBS, AND possible Lactose Intolerance were diagnosed, upon my 62nd birthday.I skipped further testing, for confirmation. So restrictive a diet. Will you have guidance for such issues?
    Look forward to learning more! Thank-you, Michelle Hauser! relatives have the Hauser last name.

    1. Hi Acresann,
      Thanks for your kind words! It is a small world. I will try to address the issues that you mention in upcoming posts--I think a lot of people have similar questions. More to come...
      All the best,


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