The other day in my never-ending quest to find a ladies room (ah the joys of pregnancy), I waddled into a local noodle shop. Everyone around me had slurp-worthy bowls of noodles, many with rice noodles, piled with fresh basil and veggies and non-veg items. They all looked delicious, but of course most probably weren’t completely gluten-free, and they certainly weren’t vegetarian. But, I was inspired- and had a mission. I wanted to create a truly vegetarian, gluten-free noodle bowl similar in style to Pho but with my own twist. I rifled through the refrigerator and found tons of fresh veggies to add to my dish… which resulted in a thoroughly unique and absolutely delicious vegetarian “pho” recipe that I slurped down with absolute gusto. Mmm. Who says you can’t make a vegetarian pho? Certainly not me!
Gluten-Free Vegetarian Pho Recipe
8 cups water with 4 Edward and Sons Not-Beef soup stock cubes
1 small unpeeled onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
a 1-inch piece of ginger, coarsely sliced
two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp szechuan peppercorn
3-4 allspice berries
generous sprinkling white pepper
for the soup:
Start by making the broth. Add your onion, garlic, ginger, and other spices (through white pepper) to a large dutch oven and stir, dry roast for a few minutes. When the onion and garlic start to char, slowly add the water with stock cubes added and bring up to a boil. Lower heat and cover, simmering for around half an hour. Strain solids out and discard, reserving the broth, returning it to the dutch oven and keeping it on low heat. Taste and season with any additional salt or white pepper as needed. Add chard stalk and let simmer while you assemble the other ingredients. Add chard leaf or napa cabbage close to time you are ready to serve. Alternatively, simply blanch chard stalk along with other veggies.
Soak noodles in boiling water for 15-20 minutes, or until soft. Blanch in cold water and let drain. Blanch broccoli until crisp but no longer raw. Blanch bean sprouts or soybean sprouts- the former very briefly, but boil the latter for 3-5 minutes before rinsing in cold water. Keeping veggies separate, drizzle with a touch of sesame oil and massage so it is evenly distributed on each veggie, and season with paprika, chili powder, or chipotle powder.
To serve, pile rice noodles in individual bowls and pour broth over to heat. Add veggies, blanched (broccoli, sprouts, chard/napa cabbage), tofu (optional, leave off for soy allergy), and fresh (green onion slices, fresh herbs) . Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with lime and more fresh herbs if you like. Enjoy! You can also put fresh herbs, fresh veggies, hot sauce, lime etc. on a plate and let people add to their own veggie noodle bowl.