Pho is basically chicken noodle soup, only better. When I lived in Chicago, there was a block of pho shops walking distance from my apartment, and on cold winter nights, I craved the giant steaming bowl of comfort with a passion. Pho broth is slightly sweet and deeply savory, the rice noodles are delightfully chewy and slurp-able, and the garnishes make it customizable. This dish’s origins may make it seem exotic or intimidating, but the flavor is mild and highly addictive.
This recipe is easy to adapt: if you don’t have anise you could add a few cloves instead; if you don’t have rice noodles you could easily replace them with cooked ramen or even spaghetti—just make sure you undercook them by a minute or too so they don’t get mushy in the hot broth. Traditional pho broth is made with a long list of spices, but you can create a very tasty version with a much more minimal approach. If you’d like to make a more complicated variation, see the tip section below.
Pro tip: For a richer flavor, add 1 stick of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, and 4 whole cloves to broth mixture before cooking.