Good pho gives me a good buzz. Something about the blend of aromatics produces a really pleasant, somewhat long-lasting body high…so I guess it’s not a coincidence that I crave it a lot.
Ultimately, my love of that soupy-high plus a very sensitive tummy which often rejects anything but noodles & broth gave me the impetus to fake some pho. I suspect my recipe could really move on up with some beef broth, meat, star anise, and ginger, but hey, I used what I had lying around.
serves about 2
pho noodles or other rice noodle (bean threads are fun too)
1 carton of chicken, beef, or vegetable broth (15-20 oz)
1-2 cups shitake mushrooms, caps sliced with stems removed*
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
about 2 tbs ground coriander
small pinch each clove, cinnamon
about 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice blend
red pepper flakes
chopped fresh herbs: thai basil, cilantro, mint
While you prepare soup, soak rice noodles in hot water as directed on package.
Combine broth, fish sauce, and soy sauce to taste in a big pot. Heat on medium.
Make spice mix: Dump a good pile (1-2 tbs) of coriander into a measuring cup or small bowl. Add about a few vigorous shakes of 5 spice. Stir it up. Add little pinches of cinnamon and clove to the mix. Be cautious here—both can get bitter & overwhelming in large amounts. You sort of have to just follow your gut here.
Add spice mix to broth and give it a good stir. Add garlic & onion. Add as many red pepper flakes as you can handle.
Bring broth to boil. Add mushrooms. Let it simmer for as long as you want (10-25 minutes will do just fine).
When your soup and noodles are both ready, divide noodles into bowls. Top with chopped herbs and scallions. Ladle soup noodles. Serve & enjoy!
If you have leftovers, I suggest storing herbs and noodles separate from the broth…The noodles will absorb the soup if stored together, and the soup will cook the herbs a bit, which you don’t want.
*A word on shitake mushrooms and their stems: stems are really flavorful, so I usually like to mince them up to add to the broth early on for a boost. However, they’re often hard instead of spongy, and therefore not great to eat. If this is the case, I just put them in whole and pluck them out when it’s time to eat.