Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Vegetarian Pho

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I am a huge fan of soup and this Pho is not exception. I first tried it quite recently in Berlin and have been day dreaming about it ever since. It has magical warming powers and gives your imune system a good boost. The recipe is fantastic because you can mix and match your toppings and garnishes depending on what you like and have to hand. If you're not a fan of star anise (like me..the smells reminds me of sambuca shots, but lets not go there) stick with it and use it, the mix of the spices are pretty magical.

Recipe adapted from the kitchn
Serves 2

The Broth
  • 3 inch cinnamon stick, Vietnamese cassia cinnamon if you can find
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 inch piece of ginger peeled and halved lengthways
  • 4 carrots peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock- I couldn't find unsalted so just used organic
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 pound dried flat rice noodles (I have also used vermicelli rice noodles and they worked really well too)
Toppings- all optional
  • Fried or baked tofu
  • Dumplings
  • Mushrooms
  • Pak Choi
  • Brocolli
Garnishes- all optional
  • 1/2 an onion thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions thinly sliced
  • 1 chilli, sliced
  • Lime wedges
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • Fresh herbs like coriander & thai basil
  • Chilli & Garlic sauce, hoisin sauce

To make the broth hold the onion and ginger with tongs over an open flame or place under a grill till they get slightly blackened then rinse with water. This will give the soup a slightly smokey flavour.

Place a large saucepan over a medium low heat and dry roast the cinnamon, star anise, cloves and coriander for 5-10 minutes or until they are aromatic. Be sure to stir them to prevent them burning. Next add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, carrots and the charred ginger and onion, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer with a lid on the pan for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes are up strain and keep the soup hot until you are ready to eat.

Whilst the soup is cook your noodles according to their instructions and place in the bowls. Next assemble your other toppings in the bowls and prepare your garnishes. Finally pour the soup into the bowls and top with your garnishes. The kitchn has a nice idea of serving all the garnishes on the table so that  diners can pick and choose what they would like. It would be lovely to serve this soup for a big meal with friends. One lesson I did learn though was that I need to buy bigger, deeper bowls for this soup and as this soup has already become a firm favourite in our house it is something I am hoping to track down this weekend.

On a completely different note, on Friday evening is the FoodCycle Festive Feast at St Paul's Centre, Cambridge. The event is in conjunction with the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. They will be providing a 3 course meal in the best way FoodCycle do, by using surplus food. To find out more information and to get tickets see their event page

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