July 15, 2024
Pho is the Soup for Summer or Winter

Pho is the perfect winter soup because it’s a massive bowl of warm broth filled with meat and noodles. How could that not be a good winter warmer?

But think about Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City if you give it it’s real name). It has an average annual climate that consists of  “really hot” and “incredibly humid”. And yet pho is a very popular dish there.

Why Is Soup Popular In A Hot Climate?

Soups make very good use of meat. While Vietnam’s economy is currently one of the fastest growing in the world, war and poverty have dogged this country for a long time. When you have little, you learn to make it go a long way. If you’re Veitnamese, you also learn to make it delicious.

I’d conjecture that maximising available resources in the kitchen was a big driver for the growth of soup. The broth could be made using whatever meat bones were left over.

Pho is also a soup based around a voluminous liquid broth. It’s not a hearty soup like European winter-based soups. It’s a big bowl of broth with noodles, meats and herbs added. If you’re preparing for a long day in the heat of Vietnam’s south (or the searing heat of Vietnam’s north during summer), a big bowl of liquid soup for breakfast makes sense.

And that highlights another reason why they love their soup despite the heat. They eat it for breakfast. You can buy pho soup pretty much anytime in Vietnam. And you’ll see Vietnamese enjoying it alongside you. But it is mostly, and traditionally, consumed during the cool of morning.

These are many good reasons why Vietnamese people choose to enjoy hot soup in a hot climate.

  • It made good use of resources when they were scarce
  • It provided fluids for a hot day ahead
  • It was consumed at breakfast
  • It was (is) delicious!

For me, it’s the last one that is the most important.

What Is Pho?

Okay, I’m hoping many of you already know this. So I won’t labour over it. Pho is a soup made with an aromatic beef stock. The stock is skimmed during boiling to keep it clear and crisp to the palate. It is made with marrow bones and sometimes chicken as well. Once ready, the pho noodles are added, then topped with sliced meat, herbs and bean shoots.

A good pho should be judged on its stock and this is the first thing I savour. It should be a balanced blend of the meat, herbs and a slight sweetness.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo) | McCormick Gourmet

Pho Is A Great Dinner Meal

I’ve always enjoyed pho as a dinner meal. I was introduced to it as a student. When that ginormous bowl was carried to my table, it didn’t matter what it tasted like. I’d just finished swim training and was sold on the size alone. It was filled with sliced meat, noodles…and then there was that delicious broth… I was hooked.

Having enjoyed it as a dinner meal while knowing nothing about Vietnam or Vietnamese food, I know how good it is for dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast.

During winter I visit my favourite Vietnamese restaurant, quan55,  and sit at their outside dining tables to enjoy a warming pho. They have patio heaters and I dress warmly, but it’s the bowl of pho that is the star, warming me from the inside out.

But you can equally enjoy it during summer. For all the reasons I stated earlier, it’s perfect for winter or summer.

Pho, Just Great Any Time

Pho has to be the best way to fill up a belly I’ve ever come across. It’s delicious, filling, nutritious, and great at any time of the day or year. If you haven’t enjoyed pho before, or haven’t had one in a while, get down to your local Vietnamese restaurant and order one.