- Tereza Novakova
Vegan Phở Soup
Are you Team Phở or Team Ramen? I am definitely a Team Phở supporter. Unfortunately, as I checked for the local restaurants offering phở, there are only a few (close to none) that have a vegan option and it just made me soooo sad. The solution appeared to be pretty simple - I should make my own! And you know what? Without being over-confident, I can still say it was one of the best that I have ever had!
I am a huuuuge lover of pretty much any Asian food, I love how all the spices and ingredients are used and I love anything hot. And during these cold Canadian winter days, having a good hearty phở soup, it's the ultimate dream.
The key to success is to make your own vegetable broth. For some reason people don't make their broths that often anymore, thinking it's too complicated and time consuming but quite frankly, there's nothing easier to make! I have to admit, working from home helps a lot. You can just keep working while your broth is slowly bubbling.
I would usually keep the cut-offs of the vegetables that I use for cooking (celery, carrots, onions, onion peels, mushrooms...) in the freezer and when I have a good amount of them, I would use them for the broth. I don't have a precise recipe for it, I just take those that I have at home and it does the magic. But I will share with you what I use when I don't have those cut-offs and I will give you approximately the quantities. You can then just play around with what you have at home. Also, don't be afraid of using onion peels, they give to the broth the ultimate beautiful golden color. If you don't want to prepare the broth that often, you can easily double or even triple the qualities and then keep it in the freezer until you make your next phở or another soup or even a sauce or risotto.
For the vegetable broth you will need:
3 medium size carrots
2 medium size parsley roots
1 medium size celery root, peeled
4 medium size onions
4 celery stalks
1 medium size leek
If you lived under the rock until now, Phở is the Vietnamese national dish. Traditionally, it's made out of strong broth (by default non vegan beef broth) and mainly served with beef or chicken. Cultural traditions and customs are one thing but the cruelty free version is if not as good, then even better than the one people get with meat!
Preheat your oven at 400F.
First of all, I don't really peel the vegetables (except for celery root as it can be pretty dirty) but I just wash them. I then cut them into big chunks, place them on a baking sheet and salt and pepper them, drizzle with olive oil and massage them to get the oil all over. I then put them into the oven for around 30 mins - basically for the time that they are getting a nice brown-ish bits. That's how you get the favor into the broth. And the color as well. Once your veggies are all nicely brown, add them to the pot of boiling water that you set while they bake. I put just enough water so it would cover all the veggies once you put them in to cook. Once you put them in, you put the lid on and lower the heat to the lowest or second lowest that you have on your stove. Let slowly bubble for 2h or even more (sometimes I forget it and it goes for 3-4h). After this time pasts, place a clean cloth into your sift and pour the broth over it into another pot so the sift and the cloth would keep all the veggies and eventual "dirt". You will end up with a beautiful transparent broth.
I tend to make my broth without any added herbs or spices so it keeps the neutral flavor and it can be used in diverse dishes. But if you want, you can also add parsley, bay leaves, allspice, whole black pepper,... I wouldn't recommend it in case you intend to use the broth for a phở as it uses its proper and specific spices so you don't want them to fight with the other spices.
For 2 phở soup servings you will need:
1.5l vegetable broth
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 mushrooms, sliced (go for more if you are a mushroom lover)
2 medium carrot, julienne
200g rice noodles (1/2 package)
2o0g firm tofu, sliced
1-2 tbsp neutral flavor oil
radishes, thinly sliced
jalapeno chili pepper, sliced
green onion, sliced
sriracha sauce or another hot sauce
Warm up your broth, add anise, cloves and cinnamon stick into your broth and let simmer covered for around 30 minutes. After these 30 minutes, remove the spices (or just run the broth through a sift into another pot), add the tamari sauce, rice vinegar, sliced mushrooms and carrots and cook for 5 minutes.
Cook the rice noodles as per instructions on the package.
Place a pan onto your stove and turn the heat to medium high. Add the oil and sprinkle with salt. Put the tofu to your pan and brown it on both sides.
Assemble your bowl - I usually start with the noodles first and then I layer around it all the other ingredients. Pour your broth over and serve! Add the hoisin or sriracha sauce to your liking and squeeze some lime over.