Slow Cooker Pho ~ this slurp-able Vietnamese noodle soup is world famous for its richly flavored broth that simmers all-day. With my easy crock pot recipe you can enjoy pho any night of the week!
*This post is in partnership with Swanson® ~ thank you for supporting me and the brands I work with, I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.
Pho (rhymes with ‘the’) is Vietnamese for noodle, and while noodles make up the bulk of the bowl, and the toppings provide lots of satisfying texture, it’s the broth that really distinguishes an authentic beef pho. Making pho broth traditionally involves all day simmering with lots of rich spices and aromatics. In other words, this is not your usual weeknight meal ~ but that’s where Swanson and the slow cooker come in.
TIP: For my slow cooker pho I use Swanson Beef Cooking Stock as my base, and add the traditional spices and aromatics to it, the crock pot takes care of the rest. You could call it a ‘faux pho‘, and it’s super delicious.
In Western cooking we don’t typically pair meats with the types of spices that you’ll find in an authentic pho recipe.
I love the depth that you get when the beef stock takes on the flavors of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and clove. And that’s only one of the many layers of flavor going on here. There’s also heat from dried chiles and peppercorns, a hint of licorice from the anise and fennel seeds, and savory notes from the mushrooms, garlic, and onions. Pungent ginger is in there too. This is an intensely flavored broth that you can only get after a long slow cook.
I keep all of the Swanson broths and stocks in my cupboards, and I reach for them constantly, whether it’s for my mom’s beef stew, or something more exotic like this pho. I turn to stock when I want to create a rich foundation for a sauce, gravy, or soup because it’s very lightly seasoned and let’s me control the flavors. Swanson Beef Cooking Stock is made is 100% natural, without artificial flavors, preservatives, or MSG added.
The broth can cook all night, or all day ~ you can’t really over-do it, so set it on low and let it go ~ it’ll be ready when you are.
To make pho, you’ll also need quick cooking noodles, and lots of delicious toppings. Rice noodles are traditional, but you can use just about any Asian noodle you can find in your supermarket. I used chow mein noodles today, but whatever type you use they will cook in just a few minutes. Drain them and pile them into individual bowls.
Next you need to decide what protein you want to add; chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu, or beef are all good. For this Vietnamese pho recipe I’m using beef. I usually freeze my steak for about an hour before slicing ~ that way it’s firm enough to slice very thinly.
This is important because the traditional way to serve pho is to put the raw meat right in with the noddles and then pour the steaming hot broth over it. That quick cooks the meat right at the table. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you can always sear your beef beforehand.
After that, it’s all about the toppings! I like bean sprouts, green onions, hard boiled eggs, cilantro, and fresh lime wedges. And you always want to have a bottle of hot chili sauce handy (aka Sriracha).
other pho topping ideas:
- baby spinach
- sliced jalapeños
- basil (Thai or regular)
- red onion
- shredded carrot
These vibrant noodle bowls will definitely be a refreshing change from meatloaf and mashed potatoes ~ I hope you give them a try!
Slow Cooker Weeknight Pho
- 64 ounces 2 cartons Swanson Beef Cooking Stock
- 1 onion
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
- 2 mushrooms, sliced
- 2 dried chili peppers, lightly crushed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 10 whole cloves
- 3 whole anise stars
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 tsp whole white peppercorns, optional
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp coriander pods
- 10 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed (don't lose the black seeds!)
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- about 9 ounces dry rice, wheat, or buckwheat Asian noodles
- 3/4 pound sirloin steak, or any steak you like
- Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Halve the onion and place, cut side down, in the pan and cook for a few minutes until golden brown.
- Pour the Swanson Beef Cooking Stock into your slow cooker. Add all the rest of the broth ingredients. Set the cooker to low and let cook anywhere from 6-10 hours, depending on what is convenient for you. When the broth is done, strain it and discard the solids.
- Put the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes, then remove and slice as thinly as you can. Wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- Make sure your toppings are prepped.
- Once the broth is done, cook your noodles according to the package directions. Divide them into individual bowls. Divide the steak among the bowls, and then pour the steaming hot broth over the meat and into the bowls. The heat of the broth will cook the meat. If you prefer you can cook the steak ahead of time.
- Immediately arrange the toppings on the bowls, and serve.
- If your slow cooker can hold it, add as much stock as you like. You don’t need to alter the amount of spices, etc.
- This can be done on the stove top as well, use a heavy, lidded pot, and cook over very low heat for at least 2 hours.
- If you are topping your slow cooked weeknight pho with chicken or pork, DO NOT use it raw, be sure to cook it first.
- Don’t stress about what kind of noodles to use in pho, any Asian variety will do.
- The noodles can be cooked ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
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