Kristi Brown’s pho-inspired soup is a healing bowl of brothy, wintery goodness that rivals the warm embrace of her Seattle hot spot, Communion.

Closeup on Pho
Thomas J. Story

Within months of opening in Seattle’s Central District, Communion became the must-get reservation for anyone looking for a fresh and local take on soul food, colorful cocktails, and, well, a party. Chef Kristi Brown has made it a mission to revive the African American foodways of Seattle in a way as celebratory as it is culturally aware. The restaurant is located in a building that was once home to the Pacific Northwest’s first Black-owned bank; on Sundays, brunch is a high-energy affair fueled by said cocktails and tables loaded with cornbread, French toast, catfish, grits, and Laotian sausage eggs Benedict. Lest you think these brunches are simply boozy, let it be known Brown turned the most recent Mother’s Day into a showcase of BIPOC-owned businesses, complete with panel discussions on motherhood and sexuality, and Ethiopian bird’s eye chile-spiked bloody Marys. 

Kristi Brown
Chef Kristi Brown at Communion

Thomas J. Story

Brown’s menu pays homage to the cultures that have found their way to Seattle and to the ingredients from the surrounding region: She serves a platter of pickled vegetables, crudités, and hummus, the latter made with black-eyed peas. Deviled eggs come five ways, including one made with smoked oysters. Her signature soup combines the flavors of gumbo and pho. “I’m influenced by the different cultures that have been in this neighborhood,” says Brown. “The food goddess put us all here for a reason.” And the result is undeniably delicious. Here, Brown shares another of her takes on pho, which she dubs a “pho-like situation.” It has many of the flavors of the traditional dish, but with personal embellishments that make it wholly her own. Like so much of what she does, Brown invites you to make it your own. 

Pho-Like Situation

Communion's Pho

Brown’s pho-inspired soup is a lovely launching point for wintery improvisation. Feel free to swap in various meats, condiments, and other vegetables according to what looks good at the market and reflects the season and the community you’re in. The broth takes at least eight hours to develop fully, so you might want to shop one day, make the broth the next day, then serve the soup on the third day.

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