When I used to eat meat (and was ignorant), I loved going to Vietnamese restaurants for pho. For those who have not heard of pho, it is a beef noodle soup that is served with fresh herbs in massive bowls. This soup is often inexpensive and full of sweet spices like cinnamon and star anise and it is these spices that give the soup its magic. So why use bones in the first place? No need! EVER! Leave the bones inside the animal please.
This version has the same spice mix as beef pho, but is made from a simple onion-garlic-ginger based broth.
8-10 cups water (basically fill your entire soup pot)
1 onion, diced
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
3 star anise pods
2 cinnamon sticks
Dash of soy sauce
1 tsp black pepper
salt (to taste)
1 package thick rice noodles
1 package fried tofu or vegan meatballs (pictured – they are seitan)
1 cup bean sprouts
2 scallions, chopped
Fresh basil, mint and cilantro (to taste)
1 lime, squeezed
Water for soaking the rice noodles.
optional – hoisin, and hot sauce such as sriracha or sambal.
In a large soup pot, boil all the broth ingredients over medium heat for half an hour. Remove from heat, and strain out the onion and herbs into a large bowl. Save the liquid and do whatever you want with the solids. Compost? An experimental snack? Hmmm….
In a separate bowl, pour 1 kettle of boiling water over the rice noodles and steep for approximately 8-10 minutes until soft, drain and set aside.
Now its time to have some fun!
In a large bowl (huge even) place a generous helping of rice noodles, seitan (or tofu) bean sprouts, scallions and herbs. Pour broth overtop until all is submerged.
Serve with fresh lime and the optional condiments.