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VEGETARIAN PHO WITH MUSHROOMS & TOFU

Savory broth made with traditional pho ingredients plus three kinds of mushrooms and fried tofu.



There is something I find so comforting in a bowl of rice noodle soup. Hot, light, flavorful broth, fresh garnishes, perfectly cooked noodles, with savory veggies and tofu. However, decent vegetarian options are hard to find. Either the vegetables are of the cheap frozen variety including broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, the broth has no flavor, or the tofu isn't cooked properly. So I set out to make my own version. I googled a few recipes to get an idea of the common broth ingredients -- ginger, onion and garlic that have a slight char to them, star anise, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and some kind of animal fat. From there I tested out different ingredients until I came up with something pretty damn delicious. The broth is something you'll have to test as you go and make it to your taste preferences, maybe you want more soy sauce, or want a more delicate broth so you water it down a little. Whatever the case, as with most of my recipes, the quantities are more like guidelines.


Now for the rest of the soup. For cooked veggies I prefer just mushrooms. You could probably add some other things to it but I feel like the garnishes add enough freshness and flavor that other veggies aren't needed. For the tofu, in order to get the skin kind of crispy you really need to try to press most of the liquid out. I usually wrap the slices in paper towels and then press them with a clean kitchen towel. The garnishes are critical - the mung bean sprouts have to be fresh and crisp. Don't get the canned ones because the liquid they're canned in has a very aggressive flavor in the soup, or fresh ones that look brown. Use both white onions and scallions to get a little more flavor in the broth as you eat it, you'll appreciate the delicateness of the scallions balanced with the bite of the white onions. Limes are absolutely essential, squeezing fresh lime juice into the soup after you've put everything in the bowl really ties everything together. It adds some much needed acidity to the broth and just gives it a nice, clean highlight. Serve with a side of hoisin and sriracha for a little more depth and some heat.


This recipe serves 2, maybe with a little leftover.


INGREDIENTS:

Broth


  • Cup Ginger Root (peeled and sliced thick)

  • 1 Sweet Onion (quartered)

  • 4 Garlic Cloves (peeled and halved)

  • 32 oz Container Organic Vegetable Broth

  • 2 Cups Water

  • 8 oz Container Baby Bella Mushrooms (washed and halved)

  • 1 Star Anise

  • 10 Black Peppercorns

  • 1 Cinnamon Stick

  • 3 Cloves

  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes

  • 1 Tbsp Salted Butter

  • 2 Tsp Beef Bouillon or Vegetarian Substitute

  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder

Soup and Garnishes

  • ½ Block Extra Firm Tofu (pressed to remove liquid and cubed)

  • 1 Tsp Vegetarian Beef Seasoning

  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable or Avocado Oil

  • 8 Oz Oyster Mushrooms (washed and roughly chopped)

  • 8 Oz Shitake Mushrooms (washed and sliced thick)

  • 8 Oz Baby Bella Mushrooms (washed and halved)

  • ½ Tbsp Butter

  • ½ Tsp Garlic Salt

  • 6 Oz Rice Noodles

  • Cilantro (roughly chopped)

  • White Onion (sliced)

  • Scallions (sliced)

  • Mung Bean Sprouts (washed)

  • Fresh Jalapenos (sliced)

  • Lime Wedges

  • Hoisin Sauce

  • Sriracha

DIRECTIONS:

Broth

  • Heat a stock pot on medium high until it becomes hot

  • Add ginger, onion and garlic and cook until the pieces are covered with char on about 25% of the surfaces

  • Add vegetable broth, water, mushrooms, all spices, soy sauce, nutritional yeast flakes and butter to pot, bring to a boil, turn heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes

  • Pour broth through a mesh sieve into another pot and return to stove on low heat, discard items from the sieve



Soup

  • Cook mushrooms and tofu at the same time, and bring a pot of water to a boil for the rice noodles

  • For the tofu, heat a pan on just over medium heat, once hot add oil and then add tofu and beef/vegetable seasoning; flip or stir tofu occasionally until browned on all sides

  • For the mushrooms, heat a pan to medium heat, once hot add the butter and melt it, then add mushrooms and garlic salt and cook until the mushrooms are tender but not rubbery (about 5-7 min)

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, add rice noodles and cook for 2 minutes (or until al dente), the noodles will continue to cook in the broth

  • Drain rice noodles and submerge in cold water to prevent further cooking

  • Spoon the desired number of noodles into two large bowls

  • Add desired amount of tofu and mushrooms

  • Ladle broth into bowls until all ingredients are covered

  • Serve with a plate that includes all of the garnishes (bean sprouts, white onion, scallions, jalapenos, lime, cilantro, sriracha and hoisin)




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