Detox with comforting, healthy Vietnamese pho

phoThere’s nothing quite as comforting, or healthy, as a steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho (pronounced “fuh”) soup to satisfy your appetite, lift your spirits and cure what ails you.

That’s because the restorative meal in a bowl contains an aromatic broth, slurp-worthy noodles and flavourful garnishes, such as fresh herbs, spicy chilies and zesty lime.

Pho is also known to heal by giving your immune system a boost and providing a pick-me-up on a cold and dreary winter day.

Capsaicin, an active ingredient in chili peppers, is anti-bacterial, while ginger, garlic and onions not only add flavour but also aid in digestion and are antiviral and heart-healthy.

Fresh herbs, including Thai basil and cilantro, are full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cilantro, in particular, helps remove heavy metals from the body, making pho an excellent choice for a cleansing detox diet after the holidays.

Traditionally, a piping bowl of pho is prepared with beef broth. The below version, however, is vegan-friendly and naturally dairy-free!

Ingredients (serves two)

For the broth

1 large cooking onion, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
1 tsp. coriander seeds
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp. ginger, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. soy sauce

For the soup

500 g rice noodles
115 g fried tofu, cubed
3 scallions, thinly sliced

For the garnishes

1 cup bean sprouts
1 chili pepper, thinly sliced
Handful of fresh Thai basil and cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges
Sriracha chili paste and hoisin sauce (optional, and to taste)


To prepare the broth, heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add the onion, garlic, cinnamon, star anise and coriander. Stir until the vegetables begin to char and spices become fragrant. Add the vegetable stock, ginger and soy sauce, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat, and let the broth simmer, covered, for about 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the noodles by placing in a large bowl. Pour off-the-boil water over the noodles, and let stand for about 20 minutes until tender. Drain the noodles. Strain the broth, and keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve, divide the noodles into two large soup bowls, and top with the broth, cubed tofu and scallions. Serve alongside fresh garnishes for diners to add to their individual bowls.