A Vietnamese soup, Pho (pronounced as “fuh”) consists of rice noodles which are called ‘banh pho noodles’, bone-beef broth, a variety of herbs and meat (either beef (‘pho bo’) or chicken (‘pho ga’)). It is often served with a side of bean sprouts. It is one of the very popular street food items of Vietnam and is also the loved all across the world.

Pho is believed by many to originate after the French colonization of Vietnam in the 1880s in the regions of Nam Dinh and Hanoi in its Northern regions. What lead to this local Vietnamese dish to attain global recognition is the influx of Vietnamese refugees to different countries after the Vietnamese War.

There are quite a few varieties of pho with the most common variety being pho nam (originating in Southern Vietnam) and pho bac (originating in Northern Vietnam).


Is Pho Gluten Free?

Gluten is basically a mixture of two proteins found in cereal grains (mainly wheat) which goes to account for the elasticity of dough. Keeping that in mind, if we look at the ingredients that traditionally constitute a Pho dish, we would see that it is gluten free. For eg: A Pho dish is mainly constituted of meat, rice noodles, broth and some garnish to go with it. While the meat and rice noodles are pretty much always gluten free, the broth- if unauthentically prepared, could be made with a soup base, which isn’t gluten free. The condiments, in accordance to what the person in question prefers may or may not be gluten free. The famed fish sauce it goes with is known to be gluten free. The soya sauce, however, is not. Thus, while various restaurants do provide gluten free Pho, it is always safer to find out specifically whether it is or isn’t. There are quite a few gluten free Pho recipes available online as well.


Keto or Vegan?

Veganism, on the other hand, is a diet where people abstain from using any products made from animals. A typical dish would make for meat strips in it but if the people who intend on eating it do not want that in their dish, they can personalize it in that manner. For example: Meat replacements can take the place of the meat products in the vegan diet. So, while it isn’t the traditional to have vegan ingredients in a Pho dish, it can be customized so.

A Ketogenic diet makes for a low carbohydrate, high fat and adequate protein diet. It forces the body to burn the body fats rather than the carbohydrates. It is known to treat epilepsy in young people.

A typical Pho dish is made with rice noodles which have a lot of carbohydrates in it which automatically breaches the rule of a ketogenic diet. However, again, one can customize their Pho noodles in accordance to their choice of diet.

Therefore, while Pho noodles don’t follow either of the two diets traditionally, one can always break from tradition and customize it in accordance to the diet of their choice.


Benefits of Pho

Pho has often been attested by nutritionists as one of the most beneficial dishes one can slurp down. This is so because of a great number of reasons. The list begins with amount of calorie intake. While 2000 calories a day is recommended usually, one dish of Pho provides you with about 20% of it seeing as it has in it 350-400 calories on an average. Followed closely by protein intake, one bowl of Pho provides you with about 30 grams of protein intake (through the meat in it) which is at least half of the recommended quota of protein.

It is also an excellent remedy for colds. The hot broth easily banishes your cold- a process which is made easier with the addition of some condiments in it (such as ginger). The bone broth used for it offers benefits such as improving your bones, joints, teeth, nail as well as digestive and immune systems.

Pho is also known to have in it a variety of vegetables which make for a healthy intake as well. These add nutrition and vitamins to your body. The only drawback with Pho is the very high sodium intake it comes with. However, if the Pho is home made, one can avoid the high sodium problem.


Some facts about Pho and how to serve it

History of Pho

While born in Northern Vietnam, the making of this fish was heavily influenced by both French and Chinese cooking. While red meat was popularized by the French, rice noodles and spices were popularized by the Chinese.

The dish came to be immensely popular spreading to Southern Vietnam too where it was further evolved by how addition of various ingredients. The southern dish is more complex than the very simple northern version of it. It soon reached the United States after the refugees began to flee. Today, there are over 2000 restaurants dedicated to Pho across Canada and the United States.


Variations of Pho

If you don’t like the traditional thin slices of beef that comes alongside Pho, it’s no problem for the most common variations of Pho boils down to Pho Ga which is chicken Pho and Pho Chay which is vegetarian Pho.

Alongside these, we have the original Pho which is made by boiling the beef bones for days and is then by going on to make a simple broth, namely, Pho Bac.

Pho Nam is yet another variation and is usually made with a heavy dosage of condiments which accounts for their uniquely flavoured. While we’ve only named four here, with the dish’s rapid globalisation, the list of variations in restaurants nowadays is endless.


Should Pho have spices in it?

Pho with its broth, noodles and meat makes for an iconic Vietnamese dish. If one were to stick only to its base ingredients (broth, noodles, meat) without condiments of any kind, it would make for a bland recipe. However, it is absolutely fine to eat it that way. But one does end up losing out on the full complexity of its flavours upon doing so. Traditionally served with a side of bean sprouts, Pho also tastes delicious paired with cilantro, Thai basil, mint herbs etc. This rich fusion of mouthwatering spices is what makes this dish so iconic. The sweet with a tinge of salty Hoisin sauce with the lime and the spicy sriracha makes for a burst of beautiful flavour.

Therefore, while you may not go the spice route, you are highly encouraged to do so.


What are the kinds of meats Pho is usually served with it?

Traditionally, Pho is served with a clear broth, rice noodles and thinly sliced beef. Therefore, the meat it is usually served with is beef. This beef could be a thinly sliced sirloin, London broil, flank steak, eye if round or tri-tip. One could even go for beef balls in the steady of beef slices. However, for those with a distaste towards beef, could gravitate towards chicken or even vegetarian Pho without any meat. However, in today’s world, you could even opt for seafood Pho with shrimps in it if you so wish. Therefore, while beef and chicken seem to traditionally be the only kind of meat available to have with Pho, it is actually not so. In today’s globalised world, our Pho can be had with any almost meat we like!


Low Carb Pho Recipe

Keto Pho Chicken Soup Recipe

Ingredients you will require:

  • 4 Chicken Thighs with Skin On (It can be substituted with pork)
  • 1/4 Onion
  • 1 Ginger
  • 1 Quart Chicken Stock Buy here
  • 2 Cups Water
  • ½ a tablespoon of sugar substitute Buy here
  • 2 tablespoons of Fish Sauce Buy here
  • 2 Bags Better Than Noodles Buy here


For Garnishing:

  • Green Onion
  • Cilantro
  • Lime
  • Jalapeno
  • Black Pepper
  • Sugar Substitute
  • Fried GarlicBuy here
  • Fish Sauce
  • Soy Sauce or Golden Mountain SauceBuy here



  1. Make it easier for you by laying out all the ingredients in front of you.
  2. Peel ginger and cut it into rough chunks. Do the same with the onion.
  3. Cook the ginger and onions in the heated soup pot until it shows sear marks. Add the chicken stock (1 Quart) to it then.
  4. Add two cups of water to it.
  5. Add two tablespoons of fish sauce, half a tablespoon of artificial sweetner and some crushed salt to it.
  6. Add the four pieces of chicken thigh and simmer until the chicken is tender.
  7. Meanwhile, chop up some green onions, cilantro, jalapenos and lime.
  8. Prepare the low carb, organic Shirataki noodles as per instructions in the back.
  9. Remove the chicken and shred it. Discard the ginger. Return this shredded chicken to the soup.
  10. Take your soup and noodles in a bowl and garnish in accordance to your likes from the list.


Watch the complete video here