Faux Pho is So Good

Vietnamese Mustard Greens
Vietnamese Mustard Greens

The other day, I once again prowled the local Vietnamese grocery, and in reward for my hunt I found a new veggie to try! The helpful woman working there called them Vietnamese mustard greens. They’re smaller than the usual southern mustard greens. Her advice was that they are great in soup, so I made soup!

I always keep Asian staples on hand for quick, healthy, and flavorful ways to cook. My pantry and fridge are always stocked with good soy sauce, fish sauce, GF hoisin, toasted sesame oil, fried onions, powdered ginger, canned coconut milk, rice noodles, sriracha, and some mirin rice vinegar. You can make magic happen when you’re well stocked with bold flavors. Something I consider a bonus is some miso paste; it can add a richness and depth to any soup or marinade, not just Asian dishes. Miso keeps for a very long time in the fridge and finding it in the organic variety is not hard either.

The Asian mustard greens are the star of the.  They add a subtle tanginess. Pho is a perfect soup to entertain with on a budget. It’s both filling and easy, great for a tempting change-up. Set out all the toppings and encourage everyone to try new combinations. If you like sweet wines, I recommend plum wine, or if you are more into the savory side try some sake (1/2 cup of either in the soup while it simmers is great). For the non-drinkers, green tea steeped with some fresh ginger slices and sweetened with honey rounds out the flavor profile of your faux pho.

Faux Pho Meatball Soup
Faux Pho Meatball Soup

Chicken Meatballs

  • 2 lbs ground organic chicken
  • 3 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 2 tbs chopped cilantro
  •  tsp each garlic p, onion p, and ginger p
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional 1-2 tsp black sesame seeds, 1-2 teaspoons chopped sweet red pepper, and 1 tsp sriracha
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup GF breadcrumbs (this brand I can usually find in a local grocery store)

Mix all meatball ingredients together in a big bowl. Use a small spoon, scoop, or your oiled hands to make small balls. Heat a frying pan and add a small bit of oil, then add the meatballs a few at a time. Cook in small batches to not crowd the pan. Once the outsides turn a golden brown, add to the soup pot and let them finish cooking in the soup. Add any drippings from the pan into the soup to add extra flavor.

Faux Pho Soup

  • 4 quarts chicken or beef broth
  • 2 tbs white miso paste
  • 2 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 4 carrots halved and sliced
  • 1 to 1 1/2 inches peeled and thinly sliced or minced fresh ginger
  • 1 med to large onion diced
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds finely chopped bok choy, baby mustard greens (found in Asian stores), or kale
  • 1/3 c soy sauce
  • 1/4 c fish sauce (optionally use 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce or 1 extra tbs miso paste)
  • 3 tbs honey or agave
  • 2 tbs mustard
  • 2 tsp each of garlic p, onion p, ginger p, and salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 tbsp Chinese 5-spice or apple pie seasoning (this is the flavor that gives the pho essence)
  • 1/2 c chopped sweet peppers
  • Optional 1-2 tbsp GF hoisin sauce

Toppings

  • chopped cilantro
  • fresh Thai basil
  • sliced green onion
  • mung bean sprouts
  • fried onion pieces (I find the GF ones in the Asian markets)
  • sriracha sauce
  • soy sauce or sweet black soy
  • Hoisin sauce

In a large soup pot add all your ingredients. Once the soup has simmered for 20 minutes taste for flavor, adding more seasoning as you like. When all the vegetables are soft and the meatballs are cooked through (about 20 to 30 minutes) serve over rice or rice noodles with your favorite toppings.

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