This post is for all you pho lovers out there.
Because let’s face it, the right herbs and spices can make or break a bowl of this delicious soup.
So, whether you like your pho with just a few simple ingredients or loaded up with flavor, I’ve got you covered with my top 17 best herbs and spices for pho soup.
17 Best Herbs and Spices for Pho Soup
Although pho soup is traditionally made with beef or chicken, the addition of herbs and spices can give it a unique flavor that sets it apart from other soups.
When choosing herbs and spices for pho soup, it is important to consider the other ingredients in the soup and how they will interact with the flavors of the herbs and spices.
Here are 17 of the best herbs and spices for pho soup:
Parsley has a clean and peppery flavor that can really brighten up a bowl of pho soup. It’s also a great source of vitamins A and C.
To use parsley in your pho soup, simply add a handful of chopped parsley to the soup when you’re ready to serve it.
You can also add a sprig or two of parsley to the pot while the soup is cooking, but be sure to remove it before serving.
Chives have a mild onion flavor and are often used as a garnish, but they can also be used to flavor soups, sauces, and salads.
When using chives in soup, it’s best to add them near the end of cooking so they retain their color and flavor. Chives can also be frozen for later use.
Thyme dances between earthy, minty, and woodsy flavors, making it a perfect partner for pho.
Its delicate leaves can be used fresh or dry, and whole sprigs can be added to the soup pot early on so their flavor has time to infuse the broth.
To get the most flavor out of thyme, add it near the end of cooking so its essential oils don’t evaporate.
Basil is a balance between sweet and savory (with hints of mint) and a little goes a long way in adding flavor to your pho soup.
This herb/spice is best used fresh, so if you have access to a basil plant, snip off a few leaves and give them a quick chop before adding them to your soup.
If not, no worries! You can usually find pre-packaged basil leaves at the grocery store near the other herbs.
A general rule of thumb is to add the basil towards the end of cooking so that its flavor isn’t overwhelmed by the other ingredients in the soup.
I like to add a small handful of chopped basil right before I serve the soup. This way, you get that nice bright flavor in every bite!
Oregano is peppery and assertive (and a little bitter) with a minty, lemony flavor. It’s often used in Italian and Mexican cooking.
I like to use it in my pho soup because it really rounds out the flavors and adds a nice depth of flavor to the soup.
A little goes a long way with this herb, so start with just a pinch or two and then add more to taste.
I also like to add some fresh oregano leaves to my soup right before eating for a nice bright flavor.
Rosemary is lemony-pine-like herb that is most commonly used in Mediterranean dishes.
I love using rosemary in my pho soup because it really brightens up the flavors and makes the soup more fragrant.
I like to add a few sprigs of rosemary to my soup when it’s simmering so that the flavors can really meld together.
You can also add some chopped-up rosemary towards the end so that it’s more potent.
Marjoram has an earthy and woodsy taste (with notes of pine and citrus) that makes it a perfect addition to pho soup.
It’s also great for using in other savory dishes like stews, roasts, and even grilled meats.
I like to add a teaspoon of marjoram (dried or fresh) to my pho soup when I’m making it.
I find that it really enhances the flavors of the broth and makes the soup more fragrant and flavorful.
8. Bay Leaves
Bay leaves have an almost minty flavor to them that can really add a lot of depth to your pho soup.
I like to add a bay leaf or two to my pho when I am cooking the broth.
I find that it really helps to round out the flavors and make the soup more complex.
The bay leaves will also help to give your pho a nice little bit of sweetness which can be really lovely in a savory dish like this.
Dill has a bright, sweet taste (somewhere between anise, parsley, and celery) that goes great in pho soup.
I like to use dill in my pho soup because it adds a nice flavor without being too overpowering.
Dill is also a good source of vitamins A and C. So not only does it taste good, but it’s good for you too!
Paprika has a subtle earthiness to it that can really complement the flavors in pho soup.
I like to add a little paprika to my pho soup when I am making it at home.
I find that it really rounds out the flavors and gives the soup a nice depth of flavor.
Paprika is also a great way to add a little bit of color to your soup if you want to make it look more vibrant.
If you are using dried herbs and spices, I would recommend using about 1/4 teaspoon of paprika per serving.
If you are using fresh herbs, I would recommend using about 1 teaspoon of chopped paprika per serving.
Sage has a strong, slightly minty (and musky) flavor that can really add a lot to your pho soup.
I like to use sage in my pho soup because it really helps to round out the flavors and make them pop.
Sage is also great for helping to soften the tough bits of meat that can often be found in pho soup, making it a perfect choice if you’re looking for a bit of extra flavor and texture in your soup.
If you’re using dried sage, I would recommend adding it early on in the cooking process so that it has time to rehydrate and release its flavor.
If you’re using fresh sage, you can add it towards the end of the cooking process or even just before serving.
13. Coriander Seeds
Coriander seeds taste slightly nutty with citrus undertones and a hint of sweetness.
When cooked, the flavor of coriander seeds is released and becomes more complex with floral notes.
I like to use coriander seeds in my pho soup because it adds another layer of flavor to the soup without overpowering it.
To release the flavor of coriander seeds, you can either cook them in the soup or toast them beforehand.
If you’re cooking the soup on the stovetop, you can add the seeds when you’re cooking the onions and garlic.
If you’re using an Instant Pot or slow cooker, you can toast the seeds in a dry pan for a few minutes before adding them to the pot.
Whether you cook them in the soup or toast them beforehand, make sure to crush the seeds before adding them so that they can release their flavor more easily.
Allspice tastes like a mix of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg (hence the name ‘all’) and is used in both sweet and savory dishes.
In pho, I like to use allspice in the spice blend that gets added to the soup while it’s cooking.
Allspice also works really well with star anise, cloves, and ginger – all common ingredients in pho.
I find that a little goes a long way with this particular spice, so start with just a pinch or two and then taste as you go.
You can always add more, but you can’t take it away once it’s in there!
15. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is mostly hot and a little fruity, and it’s a great way to add some spice to your soup.
I like to use cayenne pepper when I want to add some heat to my soup, but I don’t want it to be too spicy.
A little bit of cayenne pepper goes a long way, so start with just a pinch and then add more if you want more heat.
Cayenne pepper is also a great way to add some flavor to your soup without having to use any additional ingredients.
16. Onion Powder
Onion powder tastes way more oniony than an actual onion would and it doesn’t make your soup watery like fresh onions would.
I like to add onion powder to my pho soup because it really gives the soup a nice flavor without making it too overwhelming.
A little goes a long way with onion powder, so start with just a pinch and then add more to taste.
17. Garlic Powder
Garlic powder tastes sweeter and quite a bit less assertive than fresh garlic cloves, making it a perfect addition to pho.
I like to add garlic powder to my pho soup because it adds a depth of flavor that fresh garlic cloves cannot provide on their own.
The sweetness of the garlic powder also helps to round out the flavors of the soup and makes it more palatable for those who are not used to eating strong-tasting soups.
In addition, garlic powder also has a tendency to thicken up the soup slightly, which can be beneficial if you like your soup on the thicker side.
Overall, garlic powder is a great way to add flavor and depth to your pho soup without overpowering the other ingredients.
17 Best Herbs and Spices for Pho Soup
- Bay Leaves
- Coriander Seeds
- Cayenne Pepper
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Choose your favorite spices or herbs from this post to add to your soup recipe.
- Prepare the rest of your meal.
- Enjoy in no time!