Vietnamese Vegetable and Tofu Pho Soup
Before this recipe, I suffered from pho phobia. Not only did I say it wrong (it's pronounced "fah," not "foe"), but I also couldn't fathom how we'd bring Vietnam's national dish into our kitchens, how we'd do justice to this incredibly aromatic, flavorful and restorative treasure. Well, good thing I've got the Pho Queen (better than being the "Pho King"... say it fast and you'll know what I mean) on my side. After much research, spooning and slurping, Lisa has done it, with vegetables, tofu and rice noodles, all in an ambrosial broth infused with garlic, ginger, coriander, cinnamon and anise. Nothing to fear here - this easy-to-make soup is pho-freakin'-nominal.
Bite Me Bit
“Good manners: The noise you don't make when you're eating soup.”
Pho Vegetable Broth
9 cups vegetable broth
2 large celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
4 large shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 small garlic cloves, chopped
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried bay leaf
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp anise seed
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, including stems
1 lb dried rice noodles, medium width
1 cup firm tofu, patted dry and sliced into 3-inch long, ½-inch thick pieces
2 cups bean sprouts
2 cups shredded napa cabbage
6 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
1) In a large soup pot, bring vegetable broth, celery and carrots to a boil over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, anise seed and flat-leaf parsley. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 45 minutes.
2) While the broth is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add noodles and cook 3 minutes. Drain and divide among 6 bowls.
3) For the tofu, heat a medium, non-stick skillet over high heat. Add tofu slices and cook 2 minutes, flip slices and cook 2 minute more, until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
4) When the broth is ready, strain through a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids and return broth to pot, keeping hot until ready to serve.
5) To assemble, each bowl, arrange bean sprouts, napa cabbage and tofu over noodles. Ladle hot broth over top, sprinkle with fresh basil and serve with lime wedge.