Hot Soup, Cold Day

January 6, 2011

We have had some cold weather here in Seattle recently.  Cold here means high 30’s during the day and well below that at night.  I know for those on the East coast and in the Midwest, this is small potatoes.  It makes me realize what a true weather wimp I am.  Rain, endless gray days, darkness at 4pm – all those things I can handle.  Extreme temperatures though?  I can’t.  Randy likes to joke that I am only comfortable if it is between 70 and 75 degrees and I think that is about right.  Too hot and I am miserable, too cold and I am miserable.  This makes it nearly impossible for me to live anywhere other than Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and perhaps San Diego.  (I could live in London or Paris though.)

One nice thing about a relatively mild (read: rainy) climate is that, except for a few staggeringly hot days each summer, we can enjoy soup all year.  I am a big fan of soup for many of the same reasons that most people are.  It tends to be easy, you can easily feed a lot of people, it can be very healthy, and soup keeps well.  Many soups taste better a day or two (or even three) after they have been made.  Busy families need soup.

I am a sucker for any Asian soup, especially those involving rice noodles.  I love eating pho, the rock star Vietnamese rice noodle soup, at my favorite joint in any season. For how much I love this kind of soup, I don’t make it all that often.  I recently paid a pretty penny for a cookbook from Australia because I was blinded by the fact that there was a delicious sounding pho recipe in there.  The book was small and now I fear it is at the bottom of a toy box covered with trucks, trains, and construction vehicles.  So I made this soup instead.

Something I really liked about this version was how much flavor the broth brought to the bowl.  I’ve made Asian vegetable stock for various thing before but somehow this was much better.  Yes, you cheat a bit by using a small amount of pre-made veg stock, but if you use a good one (Rapunzel is the only brand I like) you end up with an incredibly flavorful base for your soup.  One that tastes like it’s been simmering for hours, not 20 minutes.

Noodle Soup Previously on Dana Treat: Asian Coconut Noodle Soup

Tofu and Shiitake Noodle Soup
Adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 3-4

There was originally one pound of eggplant in this soup as well but I have very specific ideas of where eggplant should be.  Not in Asian noodle soup for example.  I used a pad thai width noodle here but the super thin kind would be great too.  If you use those, I would do 4 ounces instead of 6 ounces.

3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 whole lemongrass stalks, thinly sliced
Six ¼-inch thick slices of fresh ginger, smashed slightly, plus 1 tbsp. very finely chopped fresh ginger
¼ cup soy sauce
Freshly ground white pepper
6 ounces rice vermicelli
Vegetable oil
¼ pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and caps quartered
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 pound firm flavored tofu, such as Thai, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ a Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
½ cup bean sprouts
¼ cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp. mint leaves, torn
Lime wedges and hot sauce for serving

In a medium soup pot, combine the vegetable broth, water, lemongrass, sliced ginger, and soy sauce and season generously with white pepper.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until flavorful, about 20 minutes.  Strain the broth into a heatproof bowl, pressing on the solids.  Discard the solids.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil.  Cook the rice vermicelli until al dente, about 5 minutes.  Drain and cool under running water.

Wipe out the soup pot and heat just enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom.  Add the mushrooms, season with salt and white pepper, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chopped ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the tofu along with the vegetable broth, cabbage and noodles and simmer just until the cabbage is wilted, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the bean sprouts, cilantro and mint and season the soup with salt and white pepper.  Serve the soup in deep bowl.s passing lime wedges and hot sauce at the table.


  1. pho is one of my most favorite things on earth. i could eat a bowl everyday. love your veg. version. we’ll have to sit down for a bowl together next time you are in CA or i’m back up in WA! xo.

    Comment by g. — January 6, 2011 @ 2:06 am

  2. When I read your tweet about this post I just had to comment on it. We are in Vietnam right now and I am eating pho all the time. I am actually eating it right now, as breakfast!
    Sometimes it’s a liitle bit difficult finding vegetarian versions, since most of them are made on beef broth.
    I can’t wait to try making it myself when we are back home.
    Your version looks great!

    Comment by David — January 6, 2011 @ 2:13 am

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tours Northwest. Tours Northwest said: RT @danatreat: New post. Pho-like soup. […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Hot Soup, Cold Day « Dana Treat – Treat Yourself -- — January 6, 2011 @ 2:19 am

  4. I have a head cold, so I’m all about the soup!

    However, I don’t think Hen is ready for tofu, do you?
    He is finally just eating broccoli after 20 years of begging. Baby steps!
    Looks delicious! I can smell it from here.

    Comment by stacey snacks — January 6, 2011 @ 2:43 am

  5. My husband says the exact same thing about me! We moved to San Diego a little over a year ago, but we’re back in the Midwest right now (yesterday’s high: 12). Every day I remind him that we are never moving back here.

    I agree about the Rapunzel broth. That soup looks fantastic and will surely grace our table once we’re back at a civilized temperature….

    Comment by Stacy (Little Blue Hen) — January 6, 2011 @ 3:44 am

  6. Dana this temperature thing is where we differ! I adore hot weather. Probably because I am rarely ever too warm. Ever. I walk around with sweatshirts in the middle of summer and can be perfectly comfortable. It’s weird.

    I’m not traditionally the biggest fan of soup but have really been coming around to it lately. And I do love a good Asian noodle dish…perhaps it’s just an acquired taste. That I am slowly but surely acquiring. The way you describe it, it sounds delicious.

    Comment by Joanne — January 6, 2011 @ 4:17 am

  7. Dana, your pictures have been going off lately! Nicely done.

    I made your red lentil dahl last night, it was a huge it. I am tempted to double dip this week with the noodle soup :)

    Comment by Bethany — January 6, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

  8. Dana! This is a lovely, warming and delicious soup! You made me smile… My comfy temperature is anything above 80F… Which always makes me wonder: How on earth did I end up living on the east coast? Thankfully, there are delicious warming things like your soup…

    Comment by Viviane Bauquet Farre — January 7, 2011 @ 10:26 pm

  9. This sounds great! I have been craving soup too. Can’t wait for the cooking class!

    Comment by Kirsten — January 8, 2011 @ 12:50 am

  10. I love in Florida..and I love soup ALL year. I just crank the a/c up! Looks yummy

    Comment by leslie — January 9, 2011 @ 1:43 am

  11. the soup looks great! We all love Pho in my household and luckily we live near Asian neighborhoods with dozens of Vietnamese restaurants!

    Comment by tasteofbeirut — January 9, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

  12. this is the kind of soup that literally makes you feel so good. gorgeous photo too.

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — January 10, 2011 @ 1:41 am

  13. […] Phó is the Vietnamese rice noodle soup with lots of fresh herbs, lime, chili and big chunks of tofu and vegetables. It can be a little bit tricky finding vegetarian versions, since most of them are made on chicken or beef broth. We did however find a very tasty one at Pho 2000. And when we get home we will try this recipe. […]

    Pingback by Green Kitchen Stories » The Flavors of Vietnam — January 24, 2011 @ 7:25 am

Leave a comment