The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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Pho with Tofu and Winter Greens

I had grand intentions for my January first. There would be a fire in the fireplace, a copy of the Sunday NYT to peruse. I would make pho, slowly, cooking in the way that I used to cook when it was just for me, totally private and selfish and gratifying and calm. There would be an array of tools to buffer me in my day of looking back and looking forward, considering all that had transpired in 2012 and all that I might hope for in 2013.

Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens

None of that happened. I still have not sat down to give a deep think about 2012, though I know that it was both the most challenging and the most rewarding year of my life. One doesn’t come without the other, it seems.

Instead, I browsed magazines, listened to some of The Happiness Project. (I highly recommend it!) In the afternoon I met up with friends, ambling along quiet blocks that gave way to a surprisingly bustling Valencia street. In the evening I ducked into Bi-Rite and it was packed. It felt like the holidays were not quite done yet. It felt cozy.

Baby Broccoli

Baby Broccoli

Still, I love the quiet of January. It’s a month made for celebrating the quiet things: snow, grey skies, root vegetables, long-cooked soups and braises and roasted things.

I made this pho for my parents the day after Christmas. It was exactly what we all needed: something flavorful, simple, nourishing and warming. And I made it again last week. It’s pretty stellar: the elements that give pho its fragrance and complexity are intact, but the hours spent making the stock from scratch are thankfully nixed. I could see this becoming a winter staple.

Pho Spices

adapted from Healthy Green Kitchen
Yield: 2-3 servings

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 star anise pods (use about 1 teaspoon fennel seeds if no star anise on hand)
2 black cardamom pods (optional)
1 quart chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3-4 tablespoons fish sauce (use soy sauce to make it veg; start with 1 Tbsp and adjust to taste)
1 3-inch knob of fresh ginger, smashed with the back of a wooden spoon
1 bunch green onions, separated: whites thinly sliced; greens coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 ounces brown rice spaghetti or similar
8 ounces firm tofu, pressed and drained, cubed
1 cup baby broccoli florets, chopped
1 cup sturdy winter greens, such as arugula, dandelion or mustard greens
Lime wedges
Sriracha, optional

In a large stock pot over medium heat, toast the dry spices until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Stir to keep from burning.

Add the chicken stock, fish sauce, ginger, green parts of the green onions, garlic and brown sugar.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for about twenty minutes. Skim as needed.

While the broth simmers, bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Add some oil just before adding the pasta. Cook until just barely al dente – if they’re slightly undercooked, it’s okay. Drain and set aside, covered, until ready.

Strain the broth, removing all solids.

Return broth to the stock pot. Add the tofu and simmer for a few minutes to allow the tofu to absorb the broth’s flavor.

Add the broccoli florets and the sturdy winter greens. Turn off heat.

Divide the noodles among two or three bowls. Ladle the soup over each. Garnish with the remaining green onions, sprigs of cilantro and lime wedges. Add a bit of sriracha if desired. Serve immediately.

  • Ashley - I just love that first photo with the drizzle of hot sauce. Somehow, I’ve never had pho. That needs to change. Gorgeous photos + recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Winnie - This is so gorgeous… I can’t wait to try your version! Happy New Year :)ReplyCancel

  • Angela @ the fairy bread chronicles - i recently went to vietnam and had pho almost every day! it is easily one of my favourite foods now, so wholesome and simple. thank you for posting this recipe, now i can have a taste of my memories whenever i want!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Though I love the quiet of January, this month seems to be anything but this year! Perhaps I’ll have to curl up with some soup and try to find some quiet.ReplyCancel

  • thecitygourmand - Love the garnish of fresh herbs. Makes all the difference! That and a squeeze of lemon ;)ReplyCancel

  • ileana - This looks wonderful. Happy new year, Kimberley!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - It’s perfect. I’d like to make this my winter of pho. And, yes (!), I’m so loving the calm quiet of January. Wishing you a wonderful, happy new year!ReplyCancel

  • Kankana - Nothing is more comforting this season than a bowl of hot soup!ReplyCancel

  • Kay - Yes, challenge and reward do seem to go hand in hand. I try to remind myself of that whenever life seems overwhelming. Also, I can’t get enough of broth-y soups these days, so thank you for the new recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Valeria - Pho is the first asian-style noodle soup i’ve ever tried, and still my favorite. i am so in love with it that the idea of making it at home is somehow intimidating –what if i screw it up, what if it tastes boring? And yet, this recipe, simple and flavorsome, gives me hope. It really looks like the perfect winter dish. xReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - I love how you manage to find beauty in such humble ingredients, everything about this is just wonderful. Happy new year Kimberley :)ReplyCancel

  • erin @ yummy supper - Kimberley, Happy New Year to you! I hope your crazy December wasn’t too tough on you. Your gorgeous pho looks like just the kind of cozy bowl I want to dig into this time of year and would be the perfect tonic after holiday busyness.
    Wishing you all the best in 2013.

  • SG - Happy New Year! I cannot wait to make this!ReplyCancel

  • Liz - I’m on the train to Maine, listening to Mazzy Star while reading this article and passing by snowy fields and frozen ponds. Thank you for writing exactly what I was ready to read.


  • Eileen - This pho is so beautiful, and looks exactly right for clean, hot midwinter dinners. It makes me think I need to restock my spice cabinet and give it a shot ASAP. :)ReplyCancel

  • Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up - YUM! I love pho and finding a recipe that DOESN’T take all day to make is awesome. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Megan Gordon - Happy New Year, Kimberly. This is YOUR year. And man, do I wish I’d seen this post before I started on dinner tonight (we just had cheesy /carby pasta – save us!) .ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - It’s funny, right after Christmas I had an irresistible craving for pho, which I satisfied with a huge bowl and plenty of sriracha to clean out my sinuses. I look forward to trying your recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Gemma @andgeesaid - This looks amazing, and I love how it doesn’t take ages to make. Beautiful photos!ReplyCancel

  • sara - this sounds so perfect. I agree, one doesn’t come with the other. I’ve been thinking of you and hoping the manuscript is coming along quite well. It’s an emotional ride isn’t it? Please give me a holler if there is anything I can do besides think good things for you. Happy belated new year, friend.ReplyCancel

  • Emma - Wow! I have just discovered your blog. Your photos are beautiful. I love the title A kind of hush. I too enjoy the quietness of January after the madness that is Christmas. I will be trying out this dish very soon. ReplyCancel

  • Erica Julson - mmm pho is my favorite! Love your addition of all those greens. Congratulations on having such an exciting and productive year. Just remember to schedule in some relaxing breaks for yourself as well!ReplyCancel

  • Wayne - “I love the quiet of January. It’s a month made for celebrating the quiet things: snow, grey skies, root vegetables, long-cooked soups and braises and roasted things.” – I don’t think I could have captured the mood of January any better. (I’ve even saved it in my Quotesome collection :) – It’s cold out but I think I’ll venture out in search of a nice bowl of pho for dinner tonight :DReplyCancel

  • Jenn - hi,
    couldn’t you cook the pasta directly in the broth? You’d likely have to increase the liquid – but is there any reason you couldn’t and save a step?ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley - Jenn, Of course you could try. But not knowing how much broth would be absorbed by the noodles, it’s hard to predict how it will affect the outcome of the soup. I did that once, and learned the hard way – there was no broth left after the pasta was cooked. So I can’t really recommend that. You’re free to experiment all you like; just don’t hold me responsible for the results. :)ReplyCancel

  • returning {home} | Kimberly Taylor Images - […] sort of in love with noodles these […]ReplyCancel

  • Katie - Do you ever make this with rice noodles instead of the brown rice spaghetti? Would you need to soak the rice noodles before adding them to the broth?ReplyCancel

  • Michael Brooks Jr. - I made this last night and couldn’t of been happier. What a great recipe! Have you made anything else like this?

    Thank you for the inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • Is there a “best” way to eat? « salt, dogs, and duct tape - […] a bowl of Pho. Noodles, tofu, cilantro, a spicy broth that warms you to the core. Here’s an easy recipe that we […]ReplyCancel

  • taue - WOW! This broth is amazing. The combination of anise, coriander, garlic, and ginger was incredible. I made all kinds of substitutions based on the veggies I had on hand (including delicious mizuna greens), but the broth stole the show. It’s the kind of broth one would make a huge batch of and then freeze to have on hard for delicious and effortless week night soup bases… Or reconstituting dried mushrooms?

    (Also, it seems like a great clean-out-the-fridge dumping ground for various veggies and proteins that need to get used up!)

    Thank you for this post! This will be an instant go-to in my repertoire.ReplyCancel

  • Ileana - Beautiful writing and photographs as well as a very interesting recipe that I will try.ReplyCancel

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