And on my first day back in my little part of the world, I'm making the thing that I always want when I'm sick - pho (Note: It's not pronounced "foe," but rather the same way you pronounce The Mother Of All Bad Words but then stop just short of bringing it on home). If you're not familiar with it, pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup. It's got a rich, flavorful broth and noodles and vegetables and fragrant herbs. It's comforting and satisfying, and it takes care of you like a warm blanket when you're sick. It's an alternate version of chicken noodle soup.
Traditionally, pho is made with beef stock, and you can get it in Vietnamese restaurants all around. But me and my boo are vegetarians, so that doesn't quite work for us.
So right now, I'm going to break with crafting blogging for a minute to share with you the recipe that my sweet man found for vegetarian pho. I'd link it back to the source, but I don't know where he got it. All I know is anytime either of us is sick, the other person's job is to make this soup for them.
Here it is, straight out of the well-worn page of our homemade cookbook of favorite recipes.
1 small unpeeled onion, quartered
2 unpeeled shallots, halved
8 unpeeled garlic cloves, halved
1 one inch piece of ginger root, unpeeled, coarsely chopped
2 three inch cinnamon sticks
2 pods star anise
8 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 lb. rice noodles
8 oz. extra firm tofu, diced into small cubes
6 scallions, thinly sliced
a good handful of each of the following fresh chopped herbs: mint, basil and cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup each of the following fresh vegetables: broccoli (cut into small florets), snow peas, carrots (sliced into rounds), cauliflower (cut into small florets)
jalapeno, sliced thin - optional and amount adjusted to your heat preference
Sriracha chili paste - optional (but recommended) Asian spicy condiment
To make the broth, heat a large pot of medium-high heat. Add onion, shallots, garlic, ginger, cinnamon sticks, star anise and cloves. Dry roast in the pot, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to char. Add the vegetable stock and soy sauce or tamari and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes, then strain the broth back into pot and discard the solid vegetables. Keep broth warm over low heat.
While the broth simmers, preheat oven to 350. Bake tofu cubes on a greased or sprayed baking sheet, checking and turning tofu every 10 or 15 minutes until cubes are golden and slightly crispy. Set aside.
Prepare rice noodles according to package directions - usually by pouring boiling water in a bowl over noodles and allowing to soften for 10 minutes.
Steam broccoli, snow peas, carrots and cauliflower for approx. 2 minutes, so that they are slightly tender but still have some firmness.
When you are ready to assemble your soup, put a pile of rice noodles in the bottom of each bowl, add your steamed vegetables, tofu, herbs, scallions and jalapeno, and then ladle hot both over the top. Serve with sriracha chili paste and lime wedges.
Repeat as necessary until you feel better.