A while ago, a Vietnamese friend made me some homemade pho soup, which was loaded with aromatic spices like star anise. It was so delicious, I’ll never forget it! Recently, I found a recipe that looked basically the same as how my friend had made her soup, so I gave it a shot. It turned out well, so this is my slightly adapted version!
- 8 cups (1.9 liters) vegetable, chicken, or beef stock (Japanese stock works well too)
- 4 star anise
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick (about 3 in)
- 1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger
- 1 onion, cut in quarters
- 2-4 Tbsp Fish sauce or soy sauce to taste
- Noodles and Garnishes
- 4 serving pho noodles or rice vermicelli
- Black pepper (optional)
- 1 handful fresh cilantro
- 1 fresh lime cut in wedges
- 1 dash your favorite hot chilis (optional)
- 300 g boneless chicken cut in slices or for a vegetarian option, try fried tofu
In a large pot, add the stock, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and onion. Bring to a boil, turn to low, then simmer with the lid on for 45 to 1 hour.
Strain out the spices and onion, then add 2 Tbsp of fish sauce or soy sauce. Taste the soup and add more if needed (it depends on the kind of sauce you use). * You can do up to this step ahead of time and then just reheat the soup when you are ready to eat.
Add some of the soup to a smaller pot and bring to a simmer. Add the sliced meat and cook for 2-3 minutes. If using fried tofu, skip this step. (You can do this in the large pot too, but I found it easier to dish out the meat evenly if it was separate, or if you are not eating all 4 servings)
If using fried tofu, grill it a bit in a frying pan (no oil needed) and cut into thin slices. Put on top of the soup just before serving.
Prepare the noodles according to the directions and drain. Some packages tell you to chill the noodles in cold water, but it makes the soup cold so I recommend keeping the noodles hot! (Just make sure you do this just before adding the soup, or else they noodles will stick together).
Divide the noodles among deep soup bowls and dish out the soup with the meat over the noodles.
Garnish with fresh lime, chopped chilis, and black pepper. Put the fish sauce/soy sauce at the table in case you need more. Dig in!
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