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Often when I was a young girl I would stare at all the spices in our pantry and wondered how they could all be used in foods. I longed for exotic spices like curries and masala; foods that would never be made in our strictly Italian kitchen.

When I cooked for my friends, the Toros, I became inspired by the long list of spices that were required for a hearty pho broth. After many years of tweaking the original recipe, I have created a spice blend that is not only high in antioxidants but helps fight congestion, metabolism, inflammation, and diffusion of anger.

I love spending time with this soup and making homemade beef broth, but I often find myself reaching for the Better than Bouillon when I am in a pinch.

You can certify take the long road for a pho that will never disappoint, and if you go the quick-meals method, you will still be greatly rewarded when dinner time comes.

The beautiful thing about any recipe is making it your own. I tend to go heavy on the cloves for the antioxidant properties, but you may not love the taste. Remember that the fun of cooking is making it the way you will love; play with the quantities or even the blend of spices in this recipe. I have added cardamom to my recipe for instance, because I love that it helps with respiratory issues and its magical power to diffuse tension.

Another sweet tip when searching for spices for this precious meal is to try a local co-op for the freshest of spices, or even an asian grocery for cultural support and authenticity of ingredients.

Just like your spices, your pho toppings can vary from classic jalapeños and cilantro to cabbage, carrots and other veggies you may have on hand that pull your fancy. You may be pleasantly surprised at the blends you discover.

Personally, I sometimes fail at knowing what pairs with what so I consult The Flavor Bible to help me find wining flavor pairings.

As complex as the flavor profile is for this soup, the process itself if rather easy and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes once you know what your doing. Enjoy this soup on a cold winter night and your belly with thank you for hours after.

Beef Pho with Vermicelli Rice Noodles

Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 3 carrots, whole or large chunks
  • 4″ hunk of ginger, sliced in discs
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 2 or 3 cardamom pods, whole
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole coriander
  • 6 cups beef broth (homemade or already made stock)
  • 1 1/2 tbs Tamari
  • 1/2 tbs Fish Sauce
  • 1 lb sirloin steak/ round eye
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • Small bunch Thai Basil or cilantro, or both!
  • Fresh bean sprouts
  • 2 limes, cut in wedges
  • 8 oz Vermicelli Rice noodles
  • Optional: Chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce for flavor profile change.

Directions:

  1. Trim undesirable part of your meat off and set aside. Place your meat in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
  2. Over an open flame, charr your onions and ginger. I take it to an extreme and get it burnt all around for that smokey flavor.
  3. While your onion and ginger are charring, gather your spices. Put all of your spices in the bottom of a big soup pot and heat them, moving the spices around so they don’t burn. Once warmed, add your onion, ginger and beef broth. At this point I add the fat and undesirable trimming from my cut of meat to add flavor to the broth. Especially if I am using bullion or pre-made stock. Add your carrots here and bring your pot to a boil.
  4. The more time you have to let these flavors come together the better. Let your soup boil for at least 20 – 30 minutes of you can stand it. 🙂
  5. In the meantime, being to prep your toppings of limes, scallions, basil, jalapeños and sprouts. Set aside for meal time.
  6. After 30 minutes strain your broth into a deep bowl (or another pot) and toss your spice mixture and bring your beautiful broth to a strong boil.
  7. In a separate pot, bring water to boil for your rice noodles.
  8. While the broth is coming back to a roaring boil, being to thinly slice your beef. The frozen texture makes slicing thin easier.
  9. When you are ready, boil your noodles (takes 3 minutes or so) and strain them. I like to add sesame oil to keep them from sticking. And I love sesame.
  10. With your broth boiling, prepare your bowl of heaven. Place your noodles and thinly sliced meat in your bowl and scoop the boiling broth into the bowl. Give your meat a good stir so that it all gets thoroughly cooked. Top your bowl with whatever goodies you have prepared. Squeeze some lime and enjoy!