I bet you thought I’d given up on blogging. Sorry to disappoint, but I haven’t! On the contrary, I have many blog posts started in my head, but unfortunately my writing time as of late has been allocated to a different undertaking. I can’t share more now, but I hope to be able to in the near future! The good news is, I’m not completely disappearing. And I hope you don’t either! As always, I appreciate your readership, especially when I’m a less-than-reliable source.
While the time may be springing forward this coming weeked, the weather is doing anything but. Thus, I’m finding myself still craving soup, but instead of my usual heavier stews and chili, I’m feeling something a bit lighter. Enter this “pho”! I’m calling it “pho” because while it’s certainly not authentic Vietnamese Pho, it’s kind of like it….so “pho” it is!
One of the repercussions of not blogging regularly is that I forget (even more than normal) to take photos of my life! It’s hard to share a recipe without step-by-step or final product photos (aside from those taken at my desk at work), but this pho that Wyatt and I made last night was so good and so different that I’m going to attempt to share it anyway.
This is my first time making Asian-inspired soup, and although I’m not big on recipes, I knew I needed to start somewhere. My co-worker and friend Alexa brought a similar soup to work a few months ago and upon my drooling, sent me the recipe. I also consulted my Mom, who makes a Chinese chicken soup that she raves about. I combined the ingredients and technique of those two recipes with a twist of my own to make Sarah’s “It’s Note Quite Spring Yet “Pho””. Shout-out to Wyatt for his sous-chef chopping and tasting skills – we make quite the team in the kitchen (and hopefully outside too)!
Although I didn’t intend for it to be, this recipe is actually vegan! It comes together relatively quickly in about 30 minutes (maybe even less) and is quite easy. It does require a few non-standard ingredients, but they are worth it! Healthy, warming, and flavorful, this “pho” is the perfect dinner to take you from the winter blahs to spring fever!
It’s Not Quite Spring Yet “Pho”
Makes ~8 large servings
~2 tbsp sesame oil
~1.5 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced (Tip from Wyatt: use the side of a spoon to peel ginger – easier than a standard peeler and you lose less of of the ginger)
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1.5 tbsp sambal oelek chili paste (any red chili paste will do)
1 tsp tumeric
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed (see this post for how-to)
2 stalks lemongrass (I found with the pre-packaged herbs next to the bagged lettuce), bruised (smashed) and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup soy sauce (maybe a little more)
1 tbsp sugar
3 quarts veggie stock
Shredded carrots (I buy mine pre-shredded in a bag)
Baby bok choy, sliced into ~1/2 inch wide pieces (will wilt in the soup so doesn’t matter too much)
1 small can sliced water chestnuts
1 package rice noodles
Shredded cooked chicken (optional – obviously not vegan anymore!)
Green onion (scallions)
Hot sauce (sriracha is best)
1. Heat oil in large pot. Add ginger, garlic, chili paste, and tumeric and stir. Warm on medium-low heat for few minutes.
2. Slice tofu into thin strips, ~1/8 inch. Add to pot and carefully fold into spice mixture, taking care not to break the tofu pieces too much.
3. Add lemongrass, soy sauce, sugar, and veggie stock and bring to a boil.
4. Add carrots, bok choy, and water chestnuts. Turn heat down to low and simmer for ~20 minutes.
5. Cook rice noodles according to package in separate pot. Cook ~1-2 minutes less than package directions, as noodles will finish cooking in soup.
6. Add cooked noodles to soup and the juice of one lime
7. Serve with a variety of crunchy and flavorful toppings: bean sports, thinly chopped green onions, clinatro, lime wedges, crushed peanuts, and hot sauce if desired.
8. Enjoy! The lemongrass may be difficult to eat – if so, just pick out those pieces as you go (they are a little tough to chew). Alternatively, you can leave it out altogether.
Note that I also added some shredded rotisserie chicken to my serving that I bought pre-made at the grocery store. I simply heated the chicken in a separate pot on the stove with some of the soup liquid, and then added to my bowl (and some containers for leftovers) when it was time to serve.
What are you favorite “not quite spring” meals?
I try try try to eat Pho at least once a week at my fav right down the block from my company – the famous #1 Pho (Superior Ave, right near downtown – come to Cleveland, the new gastro mecca!). Always awesome food, and they have a dozen kinds – but none reads like yours and Wyatt! Now, your job is to convince your mother to make it (I am no Wyatt – I just eat) – or you have to make it next time you come up!