Sunday, March 13, 2011

Faux Pho

(Fee-Fi-Faux-Pho! The Little Fake Pho Soup That Could)

This great little pho can be made in a jiffy and thanks to a few grown-up options, it’s packed with Vitamins A, C, Potassium and minerals like Calcium and magnesium added by God and not the guy working the assembly line in the manufacturing plant. Faux Pho is a Vietnamese style soup made up to appease my nasty cravings for Ramen noodles and chicken noodle soup.

Maruchan Ramen Noodles - Evil Seductress
Can you believe I was a freshman at Texas A& M in College Station before I tasted my first bowl of Ramen Soup? Yes, I credit Ramen Soup, the big “Blue Box” of Mac n’ Cheese, and early onset PCOS for my freshman 15. (Ok, so I doubled-down and gained 35lbs. I always was an over-achiever.)

Ramen Soup, though was the chief offender and I loved it instantly. So hot. So salty. So deliciously simple. Sitting in my dorm room late at night, cradling a steaming bowl of magic elixir, I could have eaten it every day and some days I did, since back then you could buy 12 packages for a buck! I still remember the midnight runs to the Piggly Wiggly in Bryan to stock up on food that could be made quickly and cheaply in a dorm room, on a hot plate, that had to be hidden under the bed while we were in class. It was illegal to own a hot plate in the dorm. Top Ramen always headed the very short shopping list - a perfect pasta delivery system.

Faux pho soup with shirataki noodles and spinach.
Fast forward 30 years and the Aggie dorm room is a distant memory, but the love of this simple little Faux Pho shoved my beloved Ramen of by-gone years out the door! Goodbye Fatty McFatster fried noodles! Goodbye oceans of salt! Sayonara MSG, preservatives and ingredients I can’t pronounce, cuz there’s a new prince in town and his name is Faux Pho – the mighty little soup that could…and DID. This Faux Pho completely killed all love and desire for Ramen soup. Yep, buh-bye. My thighs and blood glucose meter say, “Good riddance!”

I owe the deliciousness of this pho soup to great spices and sauces you can pick up at your local grocery or dollar store, low sodium stock-in-a-box, fresh veggies and herbs you can grow in a pot on your balcony, back patio, or buy at the market, fresh lime juice, a hot pepper or two and the protein of your choice. Pre-cooked shrimp kept frozen for emergency use when I’m too pooped to pop is the quickest protein fix, but any meat or seafood works great – thinly sliced pork, chicken, beef, ground turkey, fish, or seafood – they all rock!

Konjac noodles or shirataki angel hair pasta noodles.
Oh yeah, and some of you might not recognize this guy, but this player is available more and more at your local grocery, too. Meet the shirataki noodle - also called konjac or glucomannan noodles. These yummy, zero calorie, zero net carb noodles have a slightly rubbery texture that lessens as you cook them and are reminiscent of rice or glass noodles.

Yes, Virginia, you heard me. They have zero calories and zero net carbs and are a free food. The Japanese women eat them as a natural weight loss tool, because the konjac root or glucomannan, as it’s also known, is a tuber, a Japanese yam, and is full of soluble fiber that fills you up without filling you out. Read more about this super star, where to buy shirataki noodles, and their reputed health benefits under my Secret Ingredients tab.

The combination of flavors combined with the fresh veggies and herbs actually makes you feel “clean” as you eat it. You feel refreshed after the meal, not bogged down and sleepy like after eating a big bowl of Ramen, without the guilt or the Freshman-15. I’ll admit this soup is even better if you take the time to make my homemade bone broth, but this is still a winner with the low sodium boxed stock.

Faux pho - shrimp version with garnish.
Faux Pho – Shrimp Version
Serves 4 Huge Servings
Difficulty: Super Simple
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

2 qts Low Sodium Chicken Broth, using fresh is a bonus!
1 inch Ginger Root, sliced in thin “coins”
2 cloves Garlic, whole, peeled
4 sprigs Italian Parsley
4 sprigs Cilantro
1 tsp Sambal Oelek, or Sriracha Sauce (aka Rooster Sauce (optional)
2 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
9 oz Baby Spinach (about 6 cups)
6 Mushrooms, fresh
2 Green Onions
¾ lb Shrimp or other protein, frozen will work in a pinch
2 – 9 oz pckgs. Shirataki Noodles

Cilantro, mint, serrano, gr onions.
Optional Garnish:
Mint, fresh
Cilantro, fresh
Serrano Pepper, fresh
2 Green Onions, sliced coarsely
Bean Sprouts, fresh

Combine the first nine ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer over medium heat for as long as you can stand it. The longer and slower the broth and seasonings simmer, the better the flavor – try to make it 25-30minutes.

While the broth simmers, open the shirataki noodles and empty them into a strainer. Rinse the noodles in cold water for a minute or two to remove the slight fishy smell of the noodles, and then let them drain. The noodles take on the flavor of the dish you’re making.

Strain the broth. Discard the strained bits and return broth to the pan. (Honestly, I don’t bother straining it, I just eat the ginger and garlic and herbs as I discover them in my bowl!)

Add mushrooms, two sliced green onions and shirataki noodles and simmer for 15 minutes. Add shrimp and cook five more minutes. I add the shrimp, shells and all, and peel them as I eat them! The shells add flavor to the broth and keep the shrimp from over-cooking. Add baby spinach and sesame oil just before serving.

Serve pho steaming hot with an optional garnish of fresh mint, cilantro, green onions, Serrano chilies, fresh bean sprouts and a wedge of lime. It tastes so refreshing and nourishing and the noodles provide the chewy bite you look for in the perfectly cooked Ramen soup without adding all the carbs and bad, Omega 6, polyunsaturated fats and sodium that come from fried Ramen noodle soup.

Susie T’s Notes

4 out of 4 forks
Don’t try to freeze shirataki noodles. Because they are about 90% water, freezing causes them to become dry and very hard. Not a good idea! Unlike with Ramen, all the carbs in this dish come from slowly digestible vegetable carbs. The soluble fiber in the shirataki noodles aides to slow the glycemic index of the faux pho soup even more!

Nutritional Information



  1. Very nice,I love your recipes!

  2. WOW, looks delicious and so much info, love it

  3. Thanks ladies! Hope you'll make it soon and let me know how you liked it! :heart: you guys!


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