This Pho Soup Recipe is made with Shirataki Noodles, Chili Spiced Veal Meatballs, and a lightly gingered chicken broth with Shiitake mushrooms. It is garnished with fresh basil, jalapeno slices, and limes wedges. Then, it is served over top of Shirataki Noodles!
Pho Soup with Veal Meatballs is my take on an Asian recipe for Vietnamese Pho. It is a fusion recipe that incorporated ground veal seasoned with chili and ginger, made into tiny meatballs and fried in a combination of olive and sesame oil. Full of delicious flavors, this is a veal recipe you want to be sure to try!
Re-Vealing my Inner Chef with Veal Meatballs
The New York Beef Council is dedicated to educating people on where our food sources come from and how they are raised. As a result, I have been invited to their educational tours so I can share what I have learned with you!
We visited a veal farm in Western NY on our most recent tour. This part of the tour was very similar to one I attended in the past. You can read about how veal is raised by checking out my post on Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos.
The second day of the tour we went to the New York Kitchen. There we were paired up with Culinary Instructors and assigned a theme to #revealyourinnerchef by creating veal recipes.
The theme I received was Asian and I immediately thought of food I liked to eat when I eat out at Asian restaurants. Pho happens to be one of my favorite take-out orders. So, I started thinking about how I could work veal into it and meatballs automatically came to mind. As a result, Meatball Pho Soup came to life!
Pho Soup Recipe FAQ’s
Pho is a Vietnamese soup made of broth, meat, noodles, herbs, and spices. I consider this Meatball Pho a “fusion” of sorts, due to the fact I used ground veal, something that is not traditionally used in Pho!
Pho broth is usually a chicken broth that is lightly seasoned with a little ginger.
Chicken, Beef, Shrimp, are all common meats found in Pho Soup. I took the idea of meatballs in soup from Italian Wedding Soup and made this Meatball Pho by creating veal meatballs that were flavored with onion, garlic, ginger, and chili sauce.
The traditional toppings are bean sprouts, fresh basil, and jalapeno. These are the toppings that come with Pho Shop when I buy takeout. I couldn’t get bean sprouts in the store but found fresh Shiitake Mushrooms. I fried them in the leftover oil from cooking the meatballs, seasoned them, and added them to the broth.
Traditionally, it is a rice noodle. We don’t eat rice or pasta so I went with tofu noodles, also known as Shirataki Noodles.
How I made this recipe
I started putting this recipe together with some very basic and simple Asian ingredients.
The veal meatballs are made with ground veal, chopped onion, minced garlic, salt, crushed pork rinds, and chili sauce. Then, frying them in a combination of olive oil and sesame oil adds more of the Asian flavor.
Veal has a pink color to it and the Sambal Oelek Chili Paste is deep red. As a result, the meatball mixture will have a darker red tint to it.
I made the mini veal meatballs for my Pho Soup. To get a consistent shape, I used a tablespoon sized scoop to measure. Then, I divided it in half to make ½ tablespoon sized portions. I set them aside on a plate until I had all the meatballs formed, then fried them in the skillet.
As the meatballs cook, the oil will start to turn reddish in color. This is due to the chili sauce in the meatballs. The chili sauce will begin to “weep” into the oil. This is ok, it just gives them even more flavor. Plus, you will have a great use for this chili flavored sesame oil in another step!
When the meatballs are ready to come out of the skillet, remove them with a slotted spoon. Then, place them on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
I used fresh Shiitake Mushrooms for this recipe. If you can't find them, feel free to use dried mushrooms that have been reconstituted. As an alternative, you can use baby portobello mushrooms if Shiitake are hard to find.
When I made this soup in the test kitchen, I did use dried. If you use dried mushrooms, just reconstitute them, drain, slice, and toss in the skillet to coat with the chili oil.
Making the broth and assembling the Meatball Pho Soup
I make a very simple chicken broth by using either a bouillon base concentrate or bouillon cubes. Follow the recipe on your packaging to make 8 cups of broth. Using ready-made broth is fine also.
To give an Asian flavor to the broth, I added freshly grated ginger. I also added the fried Shiitake Mushrooms to the broth, then brought it to a boil. Once the flavoring is in the broth, I let it simmer for about 10 minutes to infuse those flavors.
While the broth was simmering on the cooktop, I rinsed the Shirataki Noodles with hot water, then added some to the soup bowl, along with 3 meatballs. Traditionally, rice noodles are used. Since we don't consume rice and pasta, we use an alternate ingredient.
Once the bowl is assembled with the meatballs and noodles, you will pour the broth over top and garnish with fresh basil and jalapeno slices!
Tips for making Pho Soup with Veal Meatballs
- Sambal Oelek Chili Sauce can be substituted by using about 1-½ teaspoons of dried chili flakes. If your not sure of the heat, then add less and test a meatball before cooking them all. However, if you have access to Sambal Oelek, I highly recommend it!
- I tested both fresh Shiitake Mushrooms and dried. I preferred the fresh, but if you can’t find them, dried will work well. Just be sure to have squeezed any water out prior to putting them in the hot oil.
- Substituting the sesame oil is not recommended. Since the sesame oil helps add Asian flavoring to the meatballs, it is worth it to go out and buy the oil.
- You can add the veal meatballs to the pho soup broth if you wish. However, my preference is to not do so. Rather, assemble as instructed. I feel the meatballs lose something when they have soaked in the pho broth.
- Store any leftover meatballs and broth separate from each other. Then just heat and serve as instructed. Or, take the leftover meatballs and create a new recipe!
What to serve with Pho Soup
I love to serve soup as an appetizer, but we also are happy to eat a larger serving of it as our main meal! Appetizers are known to make an appearance in our home as a main course. If you are thinking about serving just appetizers, this veal recipe for Sloppy Joe Stuffed Biscuits should hit the spot!
If you have a sweet tooth that needs to be satisfied, then this recipe for Vietnamese Banana, Coconut & Tapioca Dessert (Chè Chuối) would be delicious!
Pho Soup with Spicy Veal Meatballs
For the Veal Meatballs
- 1 lb. ground veal
- ½ cup crushed pork rinds
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup onions diced
- 3 tsp chili sauce
- 2 tsp garlic cloves
- 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
For the Broth
- 8 cups water
- 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp concentrated chicken broth
- ½ tsp fresh ginger grated
- Fresh Basil leaves
- Fresh Jalapeno slices
- Lime wedges
- 10 oz Shirataki Noodles
- To make the meatballs
- Remove the ground veal from the package and break it up with your hands.
- Add the diced onions, chili sauce, minced garlic, fresh grated ginger, pork rinds, egg, and salt to the ground veal.
- Mix with your hands until the ingredients are combined.
- Shape mini meatballs by scooping 1 tablespoon of mixture. Divide in half and shape. You will get two meatballs with 1 tablespoon meat mixture.
- Heat olive oil and sesame oil in skillet until hot. Working in batches, add meatballs in hot skillet. Leave enough room between the meatballs so you have room to turn them over and they are not touching.
- Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Meatballs will look opaque and browned in spots where the heat was hotter. It took me 3 batches to cook all of the meatballs.
- Remove meatballs from skillet and place on paper towel lined plate. Set aside until ready to assemble.
- Add the Shiitake Mushrooms to the same skillet and toss to coat with oil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until mushrooms have shrunk some and are infused with the oil flavors.
- Remove from skillet and drain on paper towel lined plate.
- To make the Pho Soup broth
- Add your water, broth concentrate, and fresh grated ginger to a large soup stock pot and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the Shiitake Mushrooms. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- To assemble the soup
- Rinse the Shirataki Noodles with hot water. Drain well, then divide between serving bowls.
- Arrange 6 mini veal meatballs over top of noodles.
- Pour about ¾ to 1 cup of broth mixture over top of noodles.
- Top with sliced jalapenos, fresh basil, and squeeze with wedge of lime if desired.