My husband loves Vietnamese Pho, even though he's not a soup maven. I have worked out a vegetarian version to make at home which passes his approval threshold, if marginally. Thinking about coconut, and how I love Thai soups with a coconut base, I fused elements from both for this soup.
My models came from Nava Atlas's Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons, and Jules Clancy's blog, www.thestonesoup.com (Green Curry Broccoli Soup).
To me, this is less a recipe than a framework that changes with the season and the contents of my refrigerator and pantry. The vegetables you choose can make it different every time. And the heat levels! Nava has no chiles, Jules uses considerable more than the level that suits me. Your heat source can come from any of the Thai curry pastes, any of the Asian chili sauces or sambals, or the hot sauce you know and love, whatever its origin.
My new comfort food! —susan g
dried wakame (seaweed)
grapeseed or other neutral oil
Chinese 5 spice powder
soy sauce (see NOTE)
Thai red curry paste
canned Thai coconut milk
6 - 8 ounces
firm non-GMO tofu
4 - 8 ounces
baby bok choy, sliced 1/2" thick
pho-type noodles (see NOTE)
Assorted additions, such as cilantro, basil, mint, scallions, mung sprouts, lime wedges
Soak the seaweed in warm water while you make the soup base.
Put your soup pot on medium heat and add the oil. Add garlic, ginger and shallots and lower the heat a little. Stir as they soften, then add the 5 spice powder and stir to coat the seasonings, until they are fragrant.
Heat 2 cups of water and add to the pot. Then add another 2 cups of water and the soy sauce and stir. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the broth simmers gently, partially covered, for about 20 minutes..
Dilute the curry paste with a ladle of soup liquid and add to the soup pot. Stir in another cup of water and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then add the tofu, bok choy and drained seaweed. (The soaking water may have sand, so I don't use it.)
While the soup is coming to a boil again, prepare the noodles according to directions given on the package. When they are ready, drain.
When the soup has come to a boil, you can take it off the heat. Stir in the noodles and it is ready to serve.
Put soup in bowls with a balance of all the ingredients. Use tongs to take the noodles out, so they don't slip away from the soup ladle. Put out a dish or dishes of the extras, and let everyone finish the soup to individual tastes.
NOTE: If you use gluten free soy sauce, the soup will be gluten free. You can reduce the sodium by using low-sodium soy sauce, or reducing the amount.
Pho noodles are made from rice. Just about any other kind of Asian noodles or Western pasta could be substituted.