What the Pho?
I’ve got good news friends. Hailing from Vietnam, the stomach-warming, nose-drip-inducing, spirit-lifting soup we know as Pho is surprisingly easy to make. And as the cold Pacific Northwest rains sneak their way back into this ridiculously warm and dry winter we’re having, it always feels like just what the doctor ordered. It requires a couple of semi-obscure ingredients (though, in this vegetarian version, beef brisket is not one of them – you’re welcome), but nothing you’d have to go to a specialty store to get.
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 shallots, halved
- 8 garlic cloves, halved
- 2 inch piece of ginger, coarsely sliced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise pods
- 4 cloves
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- soy sauce (optional)
- Fry the onions, garlic, shallots and all of the spices in a little oil on high heat until the vegetables begin to char. (If you don’t want cloves and cinnamon sticks floating around in your soup later, you can strain them out later or tie them up in cheese cloth and add them after the broth – I usually keep them in)
- Add the stock (and soy sauce if you want – depends on how salty your stock already is), turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes (Add carrots and veggies now if they need a little extra cooking time to soften).
- Taste your broth and see if you like where it’s at flavorwise – If not, give it some more time to let the spices sink in. If so, turn the heat back up and throw the rice noodles in once the water is at a boil. At this point, you can turn the stove off – rice noodles cook quickly and can get kind of gluey if overcooked. (If you have any quick-cooking greens, or mushrooms or tofu that just need to be warmed, throw them in with the rice noodles)
- Once the noodles are soft, serve the soup hot covered with sprouts, fresh herbs, chopped scallions and that incredible Hoisin/Sriracha combination.
- Let your nose drip and think of all the homegrown veggies you’ll be able to throw in there come Spring!