Among noodle-soup lovers, pho, the classic Vietnamese soup, is hailed as a cure for whatever ails you.
Its deeply flavored, rich broth typically simmers for hours, but that’s a tough job in the summer. I’ve figured out a way to make it quickly—and just as deliciously!
Pho is really a soup for all seasons. Although it features hot broth, which we typically think of in winter and fall, it also calls for lots of crunchy vegetable and herb toppers, which are refreshing and cool for spring and summer. The traditional flavors in the broth are star anise, ginger and garlic. Common broth bases are chicken, fish or beef. In this recipe, I use a chicken base, which is mild enough to accommodate any protein addition. If you’re a vegetarian, use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.
Pho also happens to be great for entertaining because guests can have fun customizing their bowls of pho. The basics for pho are broth and cooked rice vermicelli noodles (don’t be tempted to cook the noodles in the broth! It creates a starchy mess). But it’s the array of toppings that puts the whole concoction it over the top.
First, make the broth.
In a large soup pot, heat a tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil and add four cloves of garlic, chopped up, and a couple tablespoons of peeled, chopped fresh ginger. Cook this over medium heat, stirring a bit for just a minute, until very fragrant. Stir in six cups of reduced-sodium chicken broth, an eighth of a cup of soy sauce and a couple tablespoons of sugar. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain the broth, discard the solids and return the broth to the pot.
Make the noodles.
In a separate pot, cook one pound of thin rice vermicelli according to the directions on the package. These noodles are available in Asian specialty stores or in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores. Rinse the noodles, drain them and, when you’re ready to sit down and eat, add them to the prepared broth.
If you like, add cooked meats, seafood or tofu to the noodle soup. Then layer on the standard pho toppings – any or all of the following: cilantro, Thai basil, fresh mung-bean sprouts, sliced jalapeño or other green chili, lime or lemon wedges and chili paste or Sriracha sauce.
Dig in and slurp up—even this quickie pho is great-tasting and good for you!