It was recently brought to my attention that I no longer eat "American" food when I go to restaurants. I don't search out pizza places with gluten-free options that are over-priced and, disappointingly, not at all like pizza. I steer clear of sandwich and burger joints, never even hoping that they might maybe on a slim chance have a gluten-free bread option. And I certainly don't hop in the drive-thru line at any fast food chain, praying they'll have something I can eat.
No, I no longer partake in the standard restaurant cuisine of my country. The foods I pay someone to prepare for me and serve to me at my table are no longer centered around the wheat-based breads so common here, but more in the rice-based cultures to the East.
Nowadays, my favorites include Chinese hot pot (you've got to try it) and Thai-style curries. I live for trips to my favorite sushi restaurant, frequented at least twice a month. Oh, and then there's pho.
Especially on a cold, rainy, PNW winter afternoon, I love to walk into this place, order a "small veggie", and escape into the bowl of steamy broth, rice noodles, tofu and vegetables that the Vietnamese waiter places on the table before me. I relish in the ritual of preparing my noodle soup for consumption, sprinkling in handfuls of mung bean sprouts and fresh basil leaves, torn happily from the stem. A dash or two of Sriracha, a squeeze of lime, a look of sweet anticipation at my partner across the table. It's an experience that I've come to know well, and look forward to often.
It's pho, people. Vietnamese noodle soup. Have you tried it?
Fortunately for me, I found a recipe in my new favorite cookbook for a DIY version of pho. I actually have no idea what the restaurants use in the making of their broth (the star of the show, as far as I'm concerned), but this soup makes a flavorful, delicious rendition that we love here at the Blubaugh-Shields residence.
I'd love for you to try some.
The beauty of this style of soup is that pretty much anything can go into it, once the broth situation is covered. I stayed true to the design of my restaurant pho with the choices you see in this recipe. But please, feel free to experiment. Change it up, if you'd like, friends. Have some cabbage in the fridge? Great, use it. Cucumber? Julienne and throw it in. Fresh herbs, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms? All are welcome in the wide world of pho.
This soup is also very vegan friendly. Just omit the poultry.
Lemongrass Chicken Pho
from The Dutch Oven Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pot in Your Kitchen (with personal edits)
4 large bone-in chicken thighs
8 ounces dried rice noodles
1 stalk lemongrass, outer husk removed, bottom trimmed, and light green parts sliced 1/4"
12 C. vegetable or chicken broth
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
a few dashes GF tamari
chopped green onions
fresh mung bean sprouts
Thai basil, chopped or torn
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh lime, cut into wedges
Sriracha hot sauce
GF Hoisin sauce
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and roast in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes or until just cooked through. Set aside to cool.
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, combine broth, lemongrass, ginger, onion, and tamari. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes over medium heat, taste and season with salt, if necessary.
- Meanwhile, cook rice noodles according to package directions, drain, rinse and divide amongst soup bowls.
- Once chicken is cool, remove from bones, and tear or chop into bite-sized pieces. Divide amongst soup bowls with noodles.
- Ladle broth into each soup bowl and serve with a platter of garnishes. Diners can flavor their own bowls with condiments and add the garnishes of their choosing.