One of my absolute favorite meals is really any take on Asian noodle soup, particularly Vietnamese pho. When the temperatures outside begin to drop, this is the first thing I make to counteract the cold and rain is this soup. It is hard to find a vegetarian version of pho in most Vietnamese restaurants, though I have come across it at some food carts. But this recipe is so simple that I often make several pots of it and store it in the fridge or freezer as a future remedy against the rain.
1 yellow onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 small piece of fresh ginger
3 cinnamon sticks
4 pods of star anise
Vegetable stock, preferrably Knorr bouillon
1 package rice noodles
Fresh herbs, such as mint, basil and cilantro
Sriracha chili paste
Slices of lime
Set a large, deep pot on high heat on the stove. Cut the onion and shallots in half, making sure to leave the peels on the vegetables. Add the garlic cloves, again leaving the peel intact as well as the onion and shallots to the pot. Coarsely slice the ginger and add to the pot. Finally, add the whole spices. Char the ingredients for several minutes. This gives depth to the broth. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetable stock by boiling several cups of water in a separate pot. Add one cube of vegetable bouillon and allow to dissolve. Add enough stock to the charred vegetables and spices to cover the ingredients by several inches. Add several tablespoons of soy sauce. Cover the pot and let the broth simmer for twenty-five minutes.
While waiting for the broth, cook the rice noodles. The best noodles for pho are a thin, flat variety from Thailand, most often used in Pad Thai. Boil a small pot of water. Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Allow the noodles to soak for five to seven minutes, then drain and run under cold water. Set the cooked noodles aside.
After the broth has simmered, strain the contents through a colander. Fill several deep bowls with a handful of noodles each. Add the now strained broth to cover the noodles. The addition of condiments can be personalized, but I prefer the addition of sliced scallions, fresh basil, mint and cilantro, as well as hoisin sauce and sriracha chili paste. Squeeze several slices of lime juice over the soup and enjoy.