Pho and Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 19, 2010

Last night was a pho night. And being Martin Luther King, Jr. day we spent some time being thankful for him as well. Theo went to the library and picked up some books, cds, and dvds about Martin Luther King, Jr., and we ended up watching a documentary. I am always struck by how powerful he was. Such a great inspiration for justice and peace.

There is a little resturant in LA that makes vegetarian Pho. I like to go there when I am visiting, and last week I started wanting to make some pho on my own. Pho is actually Vietnamese beef soup, with rice noodles and lots of broth. So making vegetarian Pho, as my friend pointed out, is sort of like making pot roast without the roast… That said, our broth turned out really well, and the soup was delicious! I will definitely be making it again.

First step is to make the broth. I made a purple cabbage based broth, with carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and bok choy. I simmered everything for about 45 minutes and then strained the liquid. Because I made this last week, I put the broth into little ziplock bags and stuck it in the freezer for a few days. We also had a batch of winter broth that my mom made a few days ago for backup, in case we ran out of the purple broth.

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I took the bags of purple broth out of the freezer and started to make the “real” soup broth. Step one was to char the ginger in the wood stove. I went through several skewers before the ginger was suitably charred. Charring the ginger gives it a very distinct smell and taste.

Next was to dry roast the spices in the pan. This step helps release the flavor of the cinnamon, ginger, star anise, bay, and garlic. We went on a real hunt for star anise, and finally Jan at Everybodys found it behind the jar of Lavender flowers (in case you are looking for it there they DO have some!) After we had roasted the spices for a few minutes over medium heat, we added the purple broth, and let everything simmer on the wood stove while we chopped the vegetables.

I am not completely sure which vegetables are traditional, but we had a whole bunch of different things that we added. Sort of a composite of different pho recipes that I found online. From our local CSA we had some beautiful napa cabbage and baby bok choy. We shredded them and set them in bowls to be added to the broth at the table.

We also included dishes of bean sprouts, mint leaves, basil leaves, and lime. To garnish the top we added bowls of thinly sliced jalapenos, cilantro, and sliced green onions.

At the table, everyone got a bowl with some broth and then we added noodles, tofu, and vegetables.

Everyone’s bowl was distinct, and carefully mixed to taste.

We ate and ate and ate. It seemed to me that the broth was a little trick to get me to eat more and more vegetables.


5 Responses to “Pho and Martin Luther King, Jr.”


  1. I love pho, and I tried making vegetarian pho once, and it wasn’t that amazing. I’m excited to try out your style (though I admit, charring the ginger is intimidating)! I love reading all the things you create! 🙂

  2. Julie Says:

    I think I will add that to our menu. Pho night. Love it. Did you use the seitan? If so, what did you do with it?
    Doesn’t purple cabbage make a very overwhelming soup?
    Thanks Torry. Love your website.

    • Torrey Says:

      Hey Julie,
      I didn’t use seitan this time. (It takes a while to make.) I just cubed some raw tofu instead (for protein) and put it in a bowl on the table. I would have used napa cabbage for the broth, but all they had at everybodys when I went was the purple. I did end up liking it a lot though!

  3. Emily Says:

    Funny, someone was just telling me about pho! There’s a couple pho places in Baltimore, I didn’t know it was usually made with beef broth though 😦 Guess I’ll have to try making my own veggie pho sometime, it looks delicious!


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