Winter calls for lots of warm and nourishing soup. One of the healthiest and most nutritious soups I can’t get enough of is Vietnamese Pho. It’s far too good to relegate just to winter and truth be known I enjoy Pho all year round.
Although traditionally made from beef and chicken stock, many Vietnamese restaurants will oblige with a vegetarian option – however be warned that not all Vegetarian Pho is made to the mantra of vegetarianism – yes you will find an assortment of vegetables in the bowl but all too often the broth will be made from beef or chicken stock – so be prepared to ask how the stock has been made.
Fortunately there is no need to second-guess ingredients when making your own Pho from scratch. The great thing about home cooking is that you can modify the ingredients and add whatever pleases the palate. Making the broth is time consuming but it’s all about enjoying the process and learning new skills.
Nothing beats a warm and nourishing soup that is full of flavour, especially when it's home made - the ingredients in this Vegetarian Pho can be modified to suit your own tastes.
Ingredients To Make the Mushroom Stock 20g Dried Shitake Mushrooms
10g Dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 Mushroom or Vegetable Stock Cube
3L Hot Water
Salt and Pepper to Taste
To Make the Pho Broth 1 small Onion
1 large knob Ginger
4 Pieces Star Anise
1 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds
2 Cardamom Pods
1 Cinnamon Bark
1 Teaspoon Cloves
1 Teaspoon Fennel Seeds
Thai Green Basil
Red and Green Chilli
Method Making the Mushroom Stock
Combine the dried Shitake and Porcini Mushrooms, the mushroom stock cube and hot water into a large saucepan. Soak for approximately 60 minutes.
Dried Shitake and Porcini mushrooms are used to make the mushroom stock.
Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for an hour before making the Pho Broth - the stock will form the basis of the broth.
Making the Pho Broth
While the mushrooms are soaking in hot water, dice a small onion and using a mortar and pestle pound the ginger.
Add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil into a frying pan and heat. When the oil is hot and just starting to bubble, add the diced onion and ginger and sauté for a couple of minutes until caramelised.
Add the caramelised onion and ginger into the pot containing the soaking mushrooms.
On high heat, bring the mushroom broth to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 60 minutes.
For added depth of flavour add the sautéed onion and ginger to the mushroom stock.
Place all the dried spices into a muslin bag and dunk into the mushroom broth. Let the flavours seep in the broth for 15 minutes as the broth continues to simmer. This will give the broth that distinctive Pho flavour.
Dried spices such as Star Anise, Coriander, Fennel, Cardamon, Cloves and Cinnamon Bark were used to make the Pho broth.
Dunk a muslin bag filled with the spices into the stock and let the flavours seep into the broth for that distinctive Pho flavour.
After 15 minutes remove the spice bag from the broth, then scoop the dried mushrooms that were used to make the stock and discard.
Assembling the Pho
Add the rice noodles to the simmering broth and cook for approximately 8-10 Minutes. Remove from heat. (In this recipe, I actually used a mixture of sweet potato noodles and buckwheat soba noodles).
Remove the rice noodles from the broth and place hand-sized portions into each serving bowl.
Start assembling the Pho by placing hand-sized portions of rice noodles into the bottom of each serving bowl.
Add your ingredients of choice – I used organic tofu, fresh enoki and shitake mushrooms, red and green chilli, bok choy, basil and bean sprouts.
Satisfy your Pho cravings with ingredients of your liking.
Finally fill the serving bowls with the Pho broth and gently fold the ingredients into the broth.
Serve immediately with a splash of Tamari sauce and for an additional spicy kick add some extra chilli paste to taste.
Vegetarian Pho is a dish that will be enjoyed by vegetarians and carnivores!