It’s almost instant, because while I used packaged broth, I still had to cut up a bunch of vegetables. That makes it a little more respectable, right?
I found a packaged vegan phở at my local Asian market, so of course I picked it up. It’s pretty neato, with broth powder and spice (tea)bags. It only comes with two spice bags, and it’s enough mix for 20 cups, so that’s a little annoying if you’re only cooking for two folks at a time, but whatcha gonna do? I made 4-5 cups two nights in a row, so I just reused one spice bag, keeping it in the fridge overnight.
While the broth is good, with hints of anise and cinnamon, without a solid collection of vegetables, tofu, and rice noodles, it’s simply not phở. I stocked my bowl with:
- baked tofu, cubed and cooked in broth for just a couple of minutes
- celery, cooked in broth for about a minute
- red bell pepper
- bean sprouts
For the tofu and celery, I wanted to give them a head start so they weren’t raw. I normally wouldn’t add celery, but I had just a little in the fridge and it was on its way out. I tossed them in the broth, removing them before tossing in the rice noodles, which soften and plump up pretty quickly (depends on the type you use—just follow your directions).
Then all conversation ceases as you inhale this soup so fragrant and hearty that you wouldn’t dare wonder where the crackers are.