Pho-style Shiitake and Kale Soup (Faux Pho recipe)

Have you ever tried pho?  This rich, healthy soup has deep flavors and incredible comfort factor.  My favorite place to get pho is also my favorite place for amazing customer service. Once when my husband and I were on our way to shoot a wedding, I was feeling under the weather.  We didn’t have time for a full sit-down meal before our scheduled arrival, but as we drove, I felt a sudden panic that I couldn’t possibly spend an entire day shooting if I didn’t have a helping of the of this nourishing soup.

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I called the owner of the little restaurant, told her my craving, and when we arrived tableside, there was a set table waiting with hot soup and a side of her incredible egg rolls.  Have you ever been so spoiled?

When McCormick gourmet put out a challenge to create a new recipe inspired by the theme “a new leaf,” a recipe to include ginger, vegetable broth, shiitake mushrooms and kale, I knew I had to attempt a soup with similar flavors.  Minus the 24-plus-hours of simmering bone marrow required for a true pho…  Which, by the way, creates a depth of flavor (and health benefits!) that really can’t be matched.  (Visit the nourished kitchen here for a very interesting read about bone broth.)

Bone broth has such incredible properties, but as we’ve, ahem, covered, it’s a pretty long process.  So just in case you want to try it for yourself, here’s an awesome new product I’ve just discovered that makes me happy.  I actually like it best in a mug, first thing in the morning!

(*Affiliate Link: if you purchase this delicious bone broth, I get a small commission.  Your cost is the same!)

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While pho is traditionally “a Vietnamese noodle soup,” my little Alesia serves it with the option of replacing the noodles with bok choy.  In my version, i’ve used kale as a milder alternative.

Updated: The vegetable broth from the original recipe I created has been updated with bone broth.  Feel free to substitute with all-natural vegetable broth or beef broth if you’d like!

Pho-style Shiitake and Kale Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8 Servings
  • 4 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small serrano pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (or fresh minced)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole star anise pods
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups beef bone broth
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 cups fresh kale, torn into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup rough chopped fresh basil
  • optional: ½ pound beef soup bones
For garnish:
  • 1 lime, cut into six segments
  • ½ cup cilantro, torn into small bunches
  • Hoisin sauce, to taste
  • Sriracha, to taste
  1. In a large dutch oven, saute onions, pepper, and garlic in olive oil until it begins to "sweat." Add ginger, cinnamon stick, anise, coconut sugar, and fish sauce and saute 3 more minutes. Next add water, broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in kale and basil, and simmer 3-5 minutes or until kale softens.
To serve: Accompany with small dishes of lime, cilantro, Hoisin and Sriracha sauce for diners to add to taste.
Optional: Before beginning and for even more nutritional punch and depth of flavor, before beginning, season roast soup bones for 30 minutes. Simmer 6 cups of water with grass-fed beef bones (often sold as "soup bones," these will release marrow into the broth) for 60-90 minutes, or until reduced by ⅓. Use this broth instead of the 4 cups of water.

What do you think?  Would you like to call ahead and I’ll have your place all set?

Are you inspired by ginger, vegetable broth, shiitake mushrooms, and kale? What’s your favorite go-to soup?

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