I recently made an incredible broth that I just had to share with you. I am a huge fan of flavorful soups without a lot of salt or additives. And I have a particular love for Vietnamese pho. For some reason, I had never considered being able to make it at home. The complex flavors and aromatic spices seemed just out of reach.
But I decided that maybe I should look into it before I decide it’s out of the realm of possibility. I found a great recipe on this site that gave me a starting point. But the methods were a little more complicated than I wanted (though I’m sure it’s a much better way to do it – I just didn’t have the time or energy to “go all out”).
Starting with that recipe, I made a few changes, and I ended up with an incredible and easy base for pho. This broth would be perfect as a soup base or as a liquid for rice, quinoa, gravy or any other place you might use chicken or beef broth. Here’s what I did:
To a stock pot, I added the following ingredients:
I toasted 2 cinnamon sticks, 2tsp coriander seeds, 2tsp fennel, 6 star anaise, & 6 cloves in a dry cast iron skillet until fragrant and lightly browned.
1 large onion and ½ head of garlic – I cut the onion into large wedges (about 1 inch thick) and separated and spread them on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. I broiled at 550 until moderately charred.
2-4 pounds of meaty bones – the quality of the bones will make a huge difference not only in the flavor of your broth, but in its nutrition. I used bones from all-grass fed beef that I purchased from Living Water Ranch, which I think took this broth from good to extraordinary.
1 Tbsp salt
1Tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce (I prefer non-GMO ponzu sauce – yum!)
I simply filled my stock pot approximately ¾ full of purified water. Just like the beef, the quality of the water you use will make a difference.
I brought the water to a boil and simmered for 4 to 5 hours. Then I poured the soup through a strainer, shredded the meat and marrow, and the broth was ready. At this point, you can always add more salt, rice wine vinegar or soy sauce to taste.
A few things I noticed when making this recipe:
- The quality of every single ingredient matters because there is nothing to hide behind. I think that is what makes this broth so fantastic. Going the extra mile on quality will pay off in spades!
- Some of the spices will be a lot cheaper at an Asian market. In our area, we happen to have several Korean grocery stores, which are a great place to find high quality spices. I also love to pick up some tea and other great deals while I’m there!
- Straining the recipe at the end was a great shortcut to deal with all the foam that surfaced during the cook time, and it was a great way to remove all the spices from the broth.
- The original recipe called for ginger, which I did not have. I will definitely be adding fresh ginger to the aromatics before charring. Ginger will add another beautiful dimension to this stock!
- I suspect this will freeze very well. Making a large batch and portioning it out will come in handy on a rainy day.
- As with most broths, don’t be afraid to customize. The original recipe called for ¼ cup of fish sauce, which I didn’t have. So I substituted the rice wine vinegar/soy sauce combination, which worked very well. I also reduced the salt at the beginning and added a little more at the end. Keep in mind that a little sour (like rice wine vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice) can make the salt taste saltier. I usually try to add a little sour before increasing the salt to see if that gets the taste I’m looking for.
Add your favorites – I know it’s technically a pho recipe, but I didn’t have noodles (can you tell I did not want to go to the grocery store?). I decided to serve it over quinoa one day, and rice the next. Adding thinly sliced vegetables to hot broth meant I didn’t have to cook vegetables separately and it also meant that I could customize the broth according to the flavors I wanted when I served it. I could see this being a great medium for dumplings, ravioli pasta, and many other things!
- Eat the marrow – there is a lot of incredible nutrition in the marrow. It will cook up to be soft. If it seems kind of strange or you don’t like the texture, try mixing it into rice/noodles or whatever else you add to the soup.
- Toss the bones – these bones have leeched their minerals into the broth (yay!), so they are significantly weaker than raw bones. This means they can be very dangerous for pets because they can splinter easily. Make sure you toss them where Fido can’t get them.
Let me know if you try this – I hope you love it just as much as my family and I have!
Dorathy for Hyssop Tree
Dorathy loves meeting and spending time with new friends. She started Hyssop Tree to connect difference-makers through community. When she's not making soap for Hyssop Tree, she's busy learning, experimenting, and sharing with others. Connect with Dorathy by leaving her a message!
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