It’s summer. It’s hot. (Well, here in Victoria it is hot for a day and a half then it feels like October for a week!) It’s the time of year when fresh produce is king. If you are plum salad-ed out, yet the thought of turning on the stove has you shaking in your water wings, this recipe is a fantastic way mix up the menu without melting. Crock pots and slow cookers are usually associated with warming winter soups and stews, but this handy appliance can be a life saver in the hot summer months.
Phở is a Vietnamese noodle soup that is perfect for summer garden gatherings. Usually served with beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà) broth, these are easily swapped out with vegan friendly alternatives. While traditional methods call for charring spices and un-peeled garlic, shallots and ginger in a dry pot before setting your soup to simmer, that step can be eliminated if you peel the vegetables and cook them down completely in the slow cooker. But if you’re a purist at heart, feel free to leave the peels on and char in a dry pan before adding the aromatics to the slow cooker. Follow the straining instructions in the recipe below.
Does the ingredient list look daunting? Don’t worry–the broth freezes very well and the items on the “Fixings” list are just suggestions. Pick and choose what to provide according to the number of diners and their preferences, then sit back and let everyone create their very own Phở masterpiece. Slow Cooker Phở is the ultimate easy meal for the lazy days of summer.
Slow Cooked Summer Phở
by Ryann McQuarrie Salik
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped rough
- 6-8 cloves garlic, chopped rough OR left whole
- 3 shallots, chopped rough
- 3 piece gingeroot, peeled and sliced into 1mm thin slices
- 2 large leeks, white parts only, sliced
- 2/3 cup dried shitake mushrooms
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- 3 tbs tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tbs vegan worcestershire sauce
- 2 pods star anise
- 6 whole cloves
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp szechuan peppercorns OR 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 10 cups vegan broth, I used vegan “chicken,” but mushroom or veggie stock would be lovely too!
- Rice Vermicelli, available in the Asian section of most grocery stores
- bean sprouts and pea shoots
- Asian greens (such as bok choi, mustard greens, choy sum or chinese cabbage), chopped rough
- cubed tofu or tempeh, fermented black beans
- Thai Bird’s Eye (red) Chilis, finely diced
- baby corn
- water chestnuts or bamboo shoots
- grated carrot or jicama
- snow peas, sliced in half on the diagonal
- green onions or scallions, chopped fine
- cilantro, (thai) basil and mint leaves, chopped fine
- sambal oelek, Sriracha, toasted sesame oil, lime wedges, roasted cashews and sesame seeds, to garnish
1. Place all the ingredients for your Phở broth into a large slow cooker or crockpot. Set to low and cook for 6-8 hours while you enjoy a day of summer sun. (Or, set to high and cook for 4 hours while you enjoy an afternoon beverage on the patio.).
Once broth is fragrant, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. If you cooked your veggies down, remove ginger slices, star anise and cloves before serving. If you charred, carefully strain broth into a large soup pot, then return broth to crockpot to keep hot while you prepare your fixings and garnishes.
2. Soak rice vermicelli in hot water for 15 minutes or until al dente. Drain.
3. On a large table (or kitchen counter, if you want to go buffet-style), arrange your Phở-fixings in individual dishes and let your diners pick and choose their pleasure, layering the garden fresh goodness into large soup bowls. Ladle hot Phở broth over noodles, vegetables and whatever your protein preference, garnish with samba oelek, Sriracha, lime juice and sesame and enjoy a summer delight that is a flavourful diversion from the everyday salad.
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time (non-active): 4-8 hours
Can be made gluten-free, soy-free and peanut-free
NOTE: This recipe is currently being featured in Ethical Ocean’s Summer Recipe Contest. Give a local girl a vote and you could win $500!