This Easy Seafood Pho Noodle Soup is made with shrimp, rice noodles and any seafood you like and is the perfect recipe to make the dish at home. This Asian and Vietnamese inspired dish is comforting and loaded with so much flavor.
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FOR THE FULL LIST OF INGREDIENTS AND COMPREHENSIVE INSTRUCTIONS, PLEASE SEE THE RECIPE CARD AT THE END OF THIS POST. BEFORE YOU SCROLL, THERE’S IMPORTANT INFORMATION IN THIS BLOG POST.
What is Pho
It’s pronounced “fuh.” It’s a Vietnamese soup made with bone broth, rice noodles, and thinly sliced meat. Pho refers to the noodles, as this is a shrimp pho, it doesn’t have the thinly sliced meat, but many of the same ingredients remain.
It’s typically made with vegetables and topped with herbs and bean sprouts.
Key Ingredients for Broth
You can use any type of liquid broth you like. I like to use my Homemade Bone Broth. You can also use chicken broth, vegetable broth, etc. Since this is a seafood broth, I like to give it additional seafood flavor by using the shrimp shells from the shrimp.
Similar to how my Lobster Bisque recipe is prepared, you save the shells and add them to the broth as it cooks for even more seafood flavor.
Here are additional ingredients you will need:
A lot of authentic recipes use cardamom. Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. It has a very bold taste. I prefer to use fresh ginger instead.
What Type of Noodles to Use
You will want narrow rice noodles. I use banh pho noodles in size medium.
What Type of Seafood to Use
You can use whatever you like. My favorites are shrimp, crab, and scallops. While dining at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant they would often use mussels and imitation crab sticks. Many authentic Vietnamese recipes use fish balls as well, which is white fish in the shape of balls. You can find them frozen in an Asian Market.
What Type of Shrimp to Use
Shrimp can be found at the grocery store in a few different ways. There is raw, pre-cooked, raw and frozen, deveined, tails on, tails off, etc.
I never use pre-cooked shrimp. There is an obvious difference in taste due to the lack of quality. The shrimp is cooked and then frozen and you have to cook it/warm it up again. This usually overcooks the shrimp. Raw shrimp only takes minutes to make, just buy it raw.
Always look for deveined, that’s my preference. The black vein that runs along the back of the shrimp is the digestive intestinal tract. Is this shrimp poop, yes.
You can buy it with the vein and remove it using a sharp paring knife to make a slit along the back and lift out the vein with the tip of the knife.
Buy large shrimp. No one likes those baby shrimp and they are harder to cook with.
How to Make Seafood Pho Noodle Soup
Full detailed instructions are below in the recipe card.
- Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot on medium-high heat.
- Add in broth, shrimp shells, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, star anise, brown sweetener, and cinnamon stick. Allow the mixture to come to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer.
- Cook the noodles in accordance with the instructions on the packaging.
- Strain the broth.
- Add in the shrimp and scallops.
- Serve the broth with the noodles.
What is Fish Sauce? Can You Substitute?
Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, krill, or anchovies and is fermented for months up to 2 years. It has a salty, slightly sweet taste, and it does smell funky. It is widely used in Asian cuisine. If you dined in an Asian restaurant, you’ve likely consumed it. If you’ve visited one that is really authentic, I am sure you have smelled it.
What does fish sauce taste like? You only need a little bit of it when you use it. It’s salty. Do not taste it straight. It’s meant to be used in conjunction with food and other ingredients as an enhancement.
If you omit it in the recipe, the dish will have less flavor.
Once opened, I store it in the fridge.
What is Star Anise? How Does it Taste?
Star anise is the seed pod from the fruit of the Illicium verum plant and comes from Southwest China. The pod is shaped like a star and contains points, each containing a single pea-sized seed. Both the seeds and the pod are used in cooking.
Star anise is sold whole and ground. It’s used to make teas, roast duck, bake cookies and in Vietnamese cuisine, it’s used in pho dishes.
It has a distinct smell and taste that resembles black licorice and nutmeg. Because of this, I feel like a little bit goes a long way. I only use one star anise in the recipe. I have had some pho broths where it was apparent 3-4 (maybe more) were used.
Do what works best for your taste. If you’ve had pho before you likely know the fragrance and how it tastes. Add more to suit your tastes if necessary.
Can You Substitute Ground Cinnamon for the Cinnamon Stick
You can, but I wouldn’t. You sprinkle ground cinnamon into foods, while cinnamon sticks are used to infuse liquid, in this case, broth. If you’ve ever made apple cider, you know what I mean. Cinnamon sticks are most effective when you use them in applications like mulled wines, stews, and curries.
Cinnamon sticks offer a subtle flavor of cinnamon. If you’ve had pho before, you are probably aware that it doesn’t taste like fall! If you choose to substitute cinnamon you will need to add it after the broth has cooked.
Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add additional to taste as necessary.
How to Make it Spicy
How to Make it Healthier and Low Carb
You can easily swap out the rice noodles for veggie noodles. Here are my favorites
- Hearts of Palm: You can find brands here on Amazon and Trader Joe’s carries them as well. This is my FAVORITE pasta substitute. It’s a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees. And it tastes darn good when made into pasta!
- Zucchini Noodles – Use a spiralizer to create these.
- Spaghetti Squash – Check out my post, How to Make Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash.
- Miracle Noodles – These are shirataki noodles. I have tried them once and they are ok. I’m not a huge fan. People swear by them!
How to Garnish the Soup
This is the fun part! Here are my favorites.
- Lime Wedges
- Bean Sprouts (I can usually only find them at my local Asian market)
- Fresh Basil
How to Use Chicken or Beef
If using beef you can use flank steak, chuck roast, or brisket. Flank Steak is the most common. Beef is added to the bowl in raw thin slices. Make sure your broth is piping hot and then pour it over the meat. The hot broth will cook the steak. Check out the Best Beef for Pho here.
If using chicken you will need to cook it first. Check out my Air Fryer Chicken Breast recipe.
How to Make it Vegetarian
Load this up with any of your favorite vegetables.
- Snap Peas
- Green Beans
- Mixed Greens
- Scallions/Green Onions
How Many Calories
One serving has a little less than 300, at 296.
How Long Will it Last in the Fridge and Leftovers
The texture of the noodles will change. I recommend making those fresh if you plan to eat leftovers. The broth will last for 3-4 days tightly sealed and refrigerated.
Can You Freeze It?
Yes, but I find the texture of the noodles isn’t the same at all. If you want to make this freezer-friendly, Make it and exclude adding the noodles. Make those fresh when you defrost the frozen broth. I would also make the seafood fresh, though you can freeze it if you wish.
Pair This With These Dishes
More Dishes Like this One
Easy Seafood Pho Noodle Soup with Shrimp
- 7 oz pho rice noodles See notes.
- 1/2 pound raw shrimp, deveined Remove the shells from the shrimp and reserve the shells for the broth.
- 6 cups broth Chicken, beef, or vegetable.
- 3 whole garlic cloves
- 1 piece fresh ginger Peeled and about 1/2 inch long. (¼ teaspoon if using ground)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 star anise
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or sweetener
- 1 cinnamon stick
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 cups fresh bok choy Optional, you can add any greens.
- 1/2 pound raw scallops
- bean sprouts
- fresh basil
- fresh cilantro
- lime wedges
- Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot on medium-high heat.
- Add in the broth, shrimp shells, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, star anise, brown sweetener, and cinnamon stick. Allow the mixture to come to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- While the broth cooks, cook the noodles in accordance with the instructions on the packaging. When cooked, remove the noodles from water, rinse with cold water, dry and set them aside in your serving bowls. Drying them is important. You don't want them to become mushy.
- Open the pot and use a strainer to strain the contents of the broth.
- Add in salt and pepper to taste and taste the broth repeatedly to ensure it meets your taste.
- Add in the bok choy and stir. Cook until it wilts.
- Add in the shrimp and scallops. Cook for 1-2 minutes. I like to remove the seafood once cooked and add them to the serving bowls with the noodles. This ensures the seafood does not overcook.
- Pour about 1 1/2 cups of broth into each serving bowl with the noodles. Serve with toppings.
- You will want narrow rice noodles. I use banh pho noodles in size medium.
- The dish makes 4 servings. If you don’t plan to eat it all at once, I recommend cooking just the noodles you plan to eat. The noodles will get old and soggy if not fresh.
- You can use any seafood you like in the recipe.
- If you like lots of noodles in your soup, use more noodles.
- Using the shrimp shells to create a shrimp stock is optional and will enhance flavor.
- Cinnamon sticks offer a subtle flavor of cinnamon. If you’ve had pho before, you are probably aware that it doesn’t taste like fall! If you choose to substitute cinnamon you will need to add it after the broth has cooked. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add additional to taste as necessary.
- What does fish sauce taste like? It’s salty. Do not taste it straight. It’s meant to be used in conjunction with food and other ingredients as an enhancement. Some substitute Worcestershire sauce, but it’s not the same in my opinion. If you omit the fish sauce the dish will lack flavor.
- A lot of authentic recipes use cardamom. Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. It has a very bold taste. I prefer to use fresh ginger instead.