Can Pho Really Cure a Cold?

Big bowls of broth and slurpable noodles may be just what you need when you're under the weather.

Bowl of Vietnamese Pho with rice noodles, mung beans, cilantro, spring onions and limes

"Ugh, I'm sick. I need pho." Generations of coughing, sneezing cold sufferers have sworn by the restorative powers of a giant, steaming bowl of pho (pronounced "fuh"). First in the dish's country of origin, Vietnam, and then throughout the world, as talented chefs offer their own unique tastes on the dish.

Pho is a soup dish that consists of rice noodles and cuts of meat like beef or pork, all swimming in a clear broth made with beef bones, ginger, onions, and spices. Each bowl is served with a side of toppings, which often includes bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, sliced chilis, and lime wedges.

"When I think about pho, I think about the 'three S's," says Hmong-American chef Yia Vang of Minneapolis' Vinai restaurant. "First there's 'sacred,' because everyone's mom and grandma has her own special recipe, usually handed down through generations of a family. Then there's 'simple,' because as complex as the flavors may be, there's an essential simplicity to this dish. And third is 'soulful,' because when you have that first sip of broth, it all comes together in harmony, like a beautiful piece of music that touches your soul."

"I think the beauty of pho is in the broth," says acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner Michael Egan. "When we take a look at the common spices and herbs used in pho broth, we see a panoply of what we call 'warm aromatics' that are used in Chinese dietary therapy and herbal medicine. Personally, I just love a good bowl of pho when I feel a cold coming on. It warms my body and more importantly, my heart."

While there may be no scientific proof that pho can knock out a cold, this warm and comforting dish can still help you feel better while you're under the weather. Plus by packing in a few extra veggies to your serving of soup, you can add a boost of vitamins to the meal.

Ready to get started on your own soulful bowl? Check out some of our favorite pho recipes:

Beef Pho

Beef Pho

"A comforting richly seasoned beef broth is ladled over rice noodles and thinly sliced beef. Add hot sauce and plum sauce to taste and top with cilantro, basil, lime juice and bean sprouts." — LETT101"

Pho Ga Soup
David West

Pho Ga Soup

"After ordering this soup at a local Vietnamese restaurant, I decided to try to make it at home. This is a very flexible recipe. Feel free to substitute some of your favorite vegetables or try different noodles." — Cora

Vietnamese Beef Pho

Vietnamese Beef Pho

"The beef is sliced very thin, almost thin enough to see through. You might want to have the butcher slice it for you." — Ben S.

Instant Pot® Beef Pho
Shauna James Ahern

Instant Pot® Beef Pho

"The secret to pho, the deeply fragrant Vietnamese noodle soup with meat and flavorful toppings, is all in the stock. Nothing makes a better stock than a pressure cooker. Fairly quickly, a pressure cooker brings together all the flavors of meat bones, aromatics, and, in this case, fish sauce and toasted spices, to make a heady broth." — Shauna James Ahern

Vegetarian Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
Buckwheat Queen

Vegetarian Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

"Vegans rejoice! This is delicious, as good as the best pho restaurant!" — PinkAngora

My Chicken Pho Recipe

My Chicken Pho Soup

"This is one of my favorite soups! I love going to Vietnamese restaurants, but since I came up with this soup, we stay in!" — Miss Ashley

Pho Ginger and Lime Soup

Pho Ginger and Lime Soup

"It is somewhat spicy and is very, very good for if you have a cold, would like to warm up in the winter, or want to clear your nose." — K.Hamel

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