Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Pho
Why This Recipe Works
Pho is perhaps the best-recognized rice noodle soup from Southeast Asia where all the effort is put into building a richly flavored broth that is poured over rice noodles and thinly sliced beef or chicken and then topped with an abundance of fresh herbs and bean sprouts. Creating this soup in a slow cooker certainly presented challenges, and we were after a vegetarian version that was flavorful and satisfying. To produce a broth with the flavor and complexity of the real deal in a slow cooker, we knew we had to create a flavorful base. To a combination of vegetable broth and water we added dried porcini for beefy flavor, onion, garlic, soy sauce, lemon grass, star anise, and cloves to bring complex spice notes. For substance and meaty texture, we added portobellos, which can hold up to the long simmering time in the slow cooker and impart their earthy flavor. For our noodles we preferred classic rice noodles and added them to the soup at the end of the cooking time, turning the temperature to high for 10 to 20 minutes. The must-have garnishes—bean sprouts for crunch, basil (preferably Thai basil, though Italian basil will work), lime wedges, and additional soy sauce—balanced the straightforward meatiness and mellow sweetness of the broth with heat, acidity, and freshness.
IngredientsPrint Shopping List
|1||onion, chopped fine|
|6||garlic cloves, minced|
|¼||ounce dried porcini mushroom, rinsed and minced|
|1||teaspoon canola oil|
|4||cups vegetable broth|
|1||pound portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, caps halved and sliced thin|
|3||stalks lemon grass, trimmed to bottom 6 inches and bruised with back of knife|
|¼||cup low-sodium soy sauce, plus extra for seasoning|
|4||star anise pods|
|6||ounces (1/4-inch-wide) rice noodles|
|1||teaspoon Sriracha sauce, plus extra for seasoning|
|Salt and pepper|
|2||ounces (1 cup) bean sprouts|
|½||cup fresh Thai basil leaves|
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Using 1/4-inch-wide rice noodles is important for the success of this soup; do not substitute other types of noodles. Be sure not to overcook the rice noodles or else they will become mushy.
1. Microwave onion, garlic, porcini mushrooms, and oil in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in water, broth, portobello mushrooms, lemon grass, soy sauce, star anise, and cloves. Cover and cook until portobello mushrooms are tender, 4 to 6 hours on low or 3 to 5 hours on high.
2. Stir noodles into soup, cover, and cook on high until tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Discard lemon grass, star anise, and cloves. Stir in Sriracha and season with salt, pepper, extra soy sauce, and extra Sriracha to taste. Top individual portions with bean sprouts and basil and serve with lime wedges.