Pho Thai

Vietnamese pho noodles in Thai spicy and sour soup with shrimp, mushrooms, and refreshing basil, a quick and easy recipe for a cold dreary day. Pho Thai | Cooking with a Wallflower Vietnamese pho + Thai Tom Yum = Pho Thai This Vietnamese and Thai fusion noodle soup is so delicious I have to share it with everyone at Fiesta Friday! Spicy from one chili pepper, slightly sour from lemon juice, and even a little sweet from the grape tomatoes, this noodle soup is filled with so many flavors.

It’s been so cold and foggy in San Francisco these last few days, I’ve only wanted soup to keep me nice and toasty warm. This Pho Thai is the perfect remedy for that.

Pho Thai | Cooking with a Wallflower I used to obsess over Vietnamese pho. It was my absolute favorite dish growing up. I was always excited for Sunday to come because that’s when we’d go to our favorite pho restaurant. I could have eaten it every single day and not be tired of it. Yes, that’s how delicious I thought it was.

Rice noodles and thin tender slices of beef in a warm beef broth topped with cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, and thinly sliced jalapeno. If you like, you can also dip with hoisin sauce and Sriracha hot sauce. It’s like the most amazing dish ever. At least, I always thought so.

However, several years ago, I gave up beef for personal reasons. Have you ever had those moments where you make promises or bargains with yourself? If I pass all of my final exams, I won’t read romance novels for the next three months. If my grandpa gets better, I promise to spend more time with him. If no other family member dies every nine months (it happened three times), I’ll stop eating beef. I know some of these promises were silly while others were more serious, but I kept all of them. Even if it just happened to be coincidences.

You won’t see beef recipes on my blog. Do I miss beef? To be honest, I don’t miss beef itself as much as I miss beef pho. lol I haven’t had beef pho in over eight years. Yes, I kept count. lol. I’ve had chicken pho, but it’s just not the same. The flavor is different.

Then I discovered a Vietnamese restaurant in Milpitas that served Pho Thai, a combination of Vietnamese pho with Thai Tom Yum. It was soo tasty; I knew I discovered a new favorite. Unfortunately, that restaurant has since closed so I decided to make my own. I hope that you will enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

| Cooking with a Wallflower

Looking at the list of ingredients, I know it looks overwhelming, but the recipe is relatively simple. Some of the ingredients, such as lemongrass, kefir lime leaves, and galangal, can be frozen until you’re ready to use them. And if you’re like me, you’ll be making either Tom Yum (Thai Spicy and Sour Soup with Shrimp) or Pho Thai often.

Pho Thai | Cooking with a Wallflower

First, boil chicken broth in a medium sized pot. Once the broth starts to boil, add in lemon grass, kefir lime leaves, and galangal. If you don’t have galangal, it’s okay. You don’t have to add it. It just helps enhance the flavors in the soup. But lemongrass and kefir lime leaves do a great job flavoring the soup too. Once the soup becomes aromatic, add in the onions and the mushrooms. Cook them until they have softened.

Onion Mushroom

Add in the fish sauce, chili paste, and lemon juice. If you like your soup spicy, add sliced chili peppers. Stir to evenly distribute the flavoring. You can add more of each until it’s the perfect flavor for you.

You’ll notice that this recipe is slightly different than the Thai Spicy and Sour Soup with Shrimp, even though you’re making the same dish. The reason for that is the other recipe is meant as an appetizer and eaten alone so there are more ingredients and less seasoning. But with Pho Thai, you’re adding noodles. You want there to be less ingredients and slightly more flavor. Otherwise, the noodles, which have no flavor itself, will be bland, and the overwhelming amount of ingredients such as tomatoes and mushrooms will overcrowd the dish. You can find detailed step by step instructions for Tom Yum in the Thai Spicy and Sour Soup with Shrimp post.

Add in chopped tomatoes and cook until they have softened.


Allow the soup to simmer at very low heat.

In a small pot, boil water. You will use this water to cook the pho noodles. I use the brand below. It is super easy to cook.


Pho Thai | Cooking with a Wallflower

All you have to do is wait for the water to boil and then drop the noodles in the pot. Swirl the noodles around for about 20-30 seconds until the noodles have softened. And that’s it. Easy, right?

If you’re serving the noodles right away, you can just place it in the bowl you’ll serve the noodles in. If not, make sure to run the noodles through cold water to prevent the noodles from continuing to cook and from sticking to each other. Just like with pasta. I highly recommend doing this step; otherwise the noodles will form a clump.


Back to the simmering soup. Add in grape tomatoes and shrimp. The grape tomatoes are optional. However, I feel they add a lot of flavor to this soup because grape tomatoes tend to be sweeter. I loved it in mine. =) Cook the shrimp until they turn from gray and translucent to a solid orange color.

Use a ladle to pour the soup over the noodles. Top the noodles with cilantro, basil leaves, bean sprouts, and jalapeno if desired.

Pho Thai | Cooking with a Wallflower Pho Thai | Cooking with a Wallflower

Serve immediately hot and enjoy!

Pho Thai | Cooking with a Wallflower

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Pho Thai

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2-3 servings

Pho Thai

Vietnamese pho noodles in Thai spicy and sour soup with shrimp, mushrooms, and refreshing basil, a quick and easy recipe for a cold dreary day.

Author: Andrea Giang


4 cups (or 2 cans of) chicken broth

2-3 two inch length lemon grass stalks

2-3 kefir lime leaves

2-3 galangal slices (optional)

½ bulb of onion, sliced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

2 large tomatoes, chopped

½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half (optional)

6 tablespoons lemon juice, more to taste

1 tablespoon chili paste with soya bean oil

3 tablespoons fish sauce

10-12 shrimp, deshelled and deveined

½ package of pho noodles

1 chili pepper, sliced (optional)

Chopped Cilantro (optional)

Basil (optional)

Bean sprouts (optional)

Jalapeno (optional)


Boil chicken broth in a medium to large size pot. Once the broth boils, add in lemon grass stalks, kefir lime leaves, and galangal slices. Cook for several minutes until the soup is aromatic.

While the soup is cooking, slice onions, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes.

Once the soup is aromatic, add in the onions and the mushrooms. Stir every once in awhile and cook until they have softened. Add in lemon juice, chili paste with soya bean oil, and fish sauce. Stir until evenly distributed. Add more seasoning to taste. Next, add the chopped tomatoes and cook until they have softened. Allow the soup to simmer.

In a small pot, boil water. Once the water boils, dip the pho noodles for about 10-15 seconds until they have just softened and then remove them. If serve immediately, then place in bowl. If not, run the noodles through cold water to prevent the noodles from overcooking.

Add in grape tomatoes to the simmering soup and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp has turned orange in color and no longer appears translucent.

Use a ladle to pour the soup over the noodles. Add in toppings such as basil, bean sprouts, and jalapeno. Serve immediately hot.


  1. JS says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’m sure I know exactly which Milpitas restaurant you’re talking about. I would always order this from them and they were the only ones who had it in the area.

  2. Victoria C. Slotto says:

    Oh my–a combination of two of my favorite foods. I confess to being a beef pho lover. I’ve tried others but they just don’t work. My hubby does the cooking but now and again when he nears burnout, I give him a day off. Must try this. Now I’m hankering for a good hot bowl of pho.

  3. lightwalker1 says:

    Hi Andrea: The Pho Thai looks delicious and easy to make. I have an allergy to fish. What can I substitute for the fish sauce in order to retain the integrity of the flavour but not die when I eat the soup? In love and light Cheryle

    • Andrea| Cooking with a Wallflower says:

      I think you can substitute with soy sauce and add sugar to balance out the flavor. I’ve tried a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and lemon juice as a substitute for fish sauce as a dip or dressing before, but I haven’t tried it in soup. So I’m not positive about the flavor. Hope that helps a little bit!

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