Beef or Chicken Broth Soup with Bean Sprouts

171030 Pho bean sprouts

Beef broth soup with bean sprouts and tofu. (Photo: Hendrik Slegtenhorst)


1L water

1 cube Knorr beef bouillon

2 small cubes (blokjes) Maggi bouillon

tsp ground Korean red pepper

2 tbsp dried vegetable flakes

1 1/2 cups frozen chopped greens (kale, collard greens, spinach)

2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts

75g soft tofu


Set water to boil. Add bouillons, red peppers, chopped greens. As water approaches boil, add sprouts and tofu. Cook a minute or two. Serve.


The Maggi bouillon is essentially hydrolyzed wheat protein with spices. Maggi intensifies the flavour of the primary bouillon, and imparts as well a mild pungency to the broth. Emulating the practice of my late mother, I like to get the little blokjes, which are two to a wrapper, in the 80 piece container, which is not always easy to find. My current cache is from The Wooden Shoe, on Quadra Street, in Victoria.

The Korean red pepper is more concentrated in flavour than the ground peppers from other origins, such as China or India. I find it here in Vancouver at Kitsilano Natural Foods on West Broadway at Stephens Street in Kitsilano.

Dried vegetable flakes of good quality enhance the broth, especially if the flake mixture includes dried celery. I find these also at Kitsilano Natural Foods.

The type of greens is ad libitum. I use the frozen, chopped ones because they keep indefinitely and do not spoil. The collard greens, however, impart a particularly nice taste.

I recommend soft tofu. It has a more interesting texture than firmer versions, and tastes better in soups.

The bean sprouts are, of course, fresh. My not too small quibble is that Vancouver greengrocers and fruiterers the last years have taken to packaging fresh vegetables and fruit into sealed plastic bags. The quantity is always too large for a household of one or two, and so the likelihood of spoilage (and money wasted) is great. This applies not only to sprouts but also to salad greens, green and wax beans, small plums and mandarins, Chinese cabbages, and so on. Also, the plastic is an environmental waste.

The calorie count in this dish is small: no more than 250, if that, and of which about 135 from the sprouts and 55 from the tofu.

Serves one.

Alternative preparation: chicken bouillon broth with bean sprouts.

Substitute chicken bouillon for beef bouillon. I am partial to the Knorr or San Martino versions. Omit the tofu. Add a third cup of bean sprouts, 1/2 tsp Japanese sesame oil, and a tsp sesame seeds. The latter need not be the expensive roasted kind; ordinary seeds will do, as, in soups, they combine with the flavour of the broth.

171101 Pho Chicken

Chicken bouillon broth with bean sprouts (Photo: Hendrik Slegtenhorst)

The calorie count is about the same. The 65 calories from the sesame oil and the additional 65 calories from more sprouts is offset by the omission of tofu, producing a soup of around 300 calories.

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