Getting raw fruits, veggies, and herbs into my diet in the winter months is sometimes a battle for me because I am always craving warm, dense foods. I love pho soup because it combines all of these things into one. Admittedly, I’m still unsure how to properly pronounce the name of this soup, even after ordering it a million and one times in different restaurants. The broth is simmered with anti-bacterial garlic and anti-inflammatory ginger and then topped with a bunch of fresh herbs. It’s the perfect soup to make if you feel like you’re coming down with a cold.
Traditional pho soup is made with fish sauce, but I omitted this ingredient without trying to add in a substitute for the flavor, and it tasted just fine. It also calls for soy sauce, but I used tamari instead to make the soup gluten-free. The rice noodles are naturally gluten-free and can usually be found in a giant package at asian supermarkets for $1-$2. Most of the ingredients are all super cheap, basic things that are usually on hand at all times in my house. The only thing I had to go out for was the fresh herbs. This cost for this meal was about $10 all together, and it made two giant bowls of soup.
Gluten Free Mushroom Pho Soup
1. Peel the onion and slice it into quarters. Slice the ginger knob down the middle into two halves. Cut the garlic cloves into large chunks. Peel the carrot and slice it into small disks. These are the pieces you are going to use to simmer in the vegetable broth so you want them to be large because you’re going to strain them.
2. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Simmer for a few minutes to caramelize the onion and turn the garlic and ginger golden brown.
3. In a separate, small pot over low heat, dry-roast the star anise, cinnamon stick, and cloves. I used one large cinnamon stick and broke it in half. Stir constantly and remove when you can smell the spices, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the vegetable broth, water, and dry roasted spices to the pot with the onion, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let the flavors combine for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. While this is cooking, you can prepare your mushrooms and rice noodles. In a small skillet over medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and your mushrooms. I used a mix of sliced portobello mushrooms and beech mushrooms, but any mushrooms will work. Season with black pepper to taste.
6. In another pot, cook your rice noodles according to package instructions. These usually cook in about 5-6 minutes, so you can wait until the broth is almost finished to start making them if you want. Once the rice noodles are finished, pour cold water over them to stop them from cooking any further.
7. Strain the vegetables out of the broth. I did this the long way by just using a slotted spoon to scoop out the large chunks of onion, ginger, and carrot, and wasn’t too fussy about leaving behind a few pieces. Add the mushrooms to the broth and simmer for a couple more minutes.
8. Add rice noodles to a bowl, pour the broth over them, and top with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, chili peppers, scallions, and sesame seeds. Add a squeeze of lime juice.
Also by Lauren: Cream of Mushroom and Sage Soup
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Photo: Lauren Sacerdote