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Monday, March 7, 2016

Phở for One (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

If eating with both hands is wrong, I don’t want to be right! This simple and delicious soup is great all year ‘round—just use whatever is in season for the toppings and crunchies, and you’ll be a two-fisted eater in no time.
For the Broth:
1 whole clove
Sprinkles of cinnamon (or a half stick)
1 star anise (or ¼ teaspoon anise seeds)
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ an onion, chopped roughly
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
2 cups water
1 TBLSP tamari or soy sauce
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
For the Noodles:
¼ pound dry flat rice noodles, fettucine noodles, or buckwheat ramen
For the Toppings (choose some or all):
Baked tofu
Bean curd skin
Bok choy
Cabbage (Napa would be nice, but any of it is good)
For the Crunchies (choose some or all):
¼ of a large onion, sliced thinly
1 green onion, diced
½ lime, wedged
¼ cup mung bean sprouts
2 TBLSP fresh cilantro, leaves only
1 TBLSP fresh mint, leaves only
Soy sauce or tamari to taste

Make the Broth:
  1. In a pot large enough to hold 4 cups, dry roast the clove, cinnamon, anise, and coriander over medium heat, stirring constantly. When it starts to smell fabulous (after about 30 seconds), add the onion and ginger and a slosh of the water, just enough to keep things from burning and sticking.
  2. When the onion is starting to soften (about 4 minutes), add the rest of the water, the soy sauce, and the carrots.
  3. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain it into your favorite bowl, or, if your pan is treacherous, into a 2-cup measuring cup that you can pour out of.

Make the Noodles:
  1. While the broth is simmering, make the noodles according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This may involve soaking them in hot water for 20-30 minutes, so plan accordingly. If they need to be boiled, microwaved, or stir fried, well, take care of that!

Make the Toppings:
  1. Use the time while the broth is simmering and the noodles steeping to slice and cook/bake tofu or seitan, steam or blanch veggies that need it, and cut up mushrooms and cabbage. You won’t need to season (salt/pepper/garlic/whatever) these because the broth has plenty of flavor.

Make the Crunchies:
  1. Now that the veggies are cooking away or resting quietly, prepare the crunchies.

Assemble the Phở:
  1. The broth and noodles share the bottom of the serving bowl, so snug one into the other.
  2. Arrange the toppings over the noodles.
  3. Garnish with the Crunchies. You’ll like the brightness of squeezing the lime wedges over the whole shebang, so I hope that’s one of your options.

A great idea is to double or triple the amount of broth you make. Then you can just microwave it the next day for use with freshly supplied toppings and crunchies without soggy veggies!!

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