Vegetable Broth + Paleo Vegan Pho

National Blog Posting Month, Nov 10 prompt: What knowledge do you have that others don’t? Write a “how to” post about anything you’ve got skills for, small or large.vegetable-broth-101Sure, you can buy it by the carton. It’s less of a hassle than running around the produce department, gathering carrots, parsnips, celery, etc., only to return home and realize you’ve forgotten the onions or another key ingredient. We’ve all been there with some recipe or another. However, store-bought vegetable broth contains too much salt in my opinion–while the low-sodium kind lacks flavor. With a bit of planning and mere minutes of prep time, it’s easy to make your own. I guarantee you’ll notice an improvement in the flavor and body of soups and stews. More elaborate recipes might have ingredients you don’t recognize (which won’t be the case at the end of this tutorial. More on that later). We’ll start with a basic, unintimidating recipe that utilizes everyday ingredients for use as a prototype for more complex broths and stocks in the future. When I’m short on time, this is my go-to recipe:

Basic Vegetable Broth

Makes approximately 2 quarts
Tip: Don’t peel anything or discard the scraps. Things like the tops of carrots or celery, stems, etc. contribute to the flavor and nutritional value of the broth/stock. Obviously, discard any spoiled or rotten parts.

Ingredients

1 gallon water
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup carrot, chopped
2 cups tomato, quartered
1 medium bell pepper, cut
2 cups parsnip, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 whole peppercorn
1 tsp red pepper flakes (like the kind they give you at pizza restaurants)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Add all ingredients to a large stock pot. Bring to a full boil and reduce to simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low to continue cooking (covered, to maintain the flavors and vitamin content of the vegetables) until the liquid is reduced by half.

Pour broth through a filter/sieve/colander, with a bowl or pot underneath it that is larger than the circumference of the filter (to avoid wasting any broth).

Asian-Style Vegetable Broth

asian-style-soup-broth
Using the basic vegetable broth recipe as a base, you only need a few more ingredients to emulate the flavors of a Chinese-style noodle soup or traditional Vietnamese pho. You can experiment with combinations of different ingredients, so the following are merely suggestions or guidelines. I recommend using ginger in all combinations if you can. As with any broth recipe–you don’t need to peel the root since you’ll remove it before serving/adding the noodles and toppings.

Ingredients

1 x 4″ piece ginger root, unpeeled, sliced
5 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
ginger-rootcinnamon-sticksstar-anise
4 cups vegetable stock (see above recipe)
2 cups water

Method

Simmer 20 minutes on medium heat

Paleo Vegan Pho

vegan-pho

Ingredients

6 cups Asian-style vegetable broth (see above recipe)
2 x 8oz package fettuccine-style shirataki noodles.

Toppings

4 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced. Remove the seeds for less heat.
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
4 Tbsp vegetarian “fish sauce”, found in Asian markets, natural food stores, some conventional grocery stores, and online. *However, many of these brands contain preservatives and food coloring/caramel color, and even the natural brands contain sugar. Vegetarian “fish sauce” is very easy to make with all natural ingredients & no added sugar:

Combine 1/4 Tbsp pure powdered stevia extract OR 12-18 drops Stevia Liquid Concentrate (for more info, see the Stevia Conversion Chart) with 1 cup warm water + 1/4 cup canned pineapple juice (if you use fresh, I’m totally impressed) and 1 cup 2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari or 1 Tbsp regular tamari. You can also use conventional soy sauce like Kikoman brand if you’re not worried about the additives. When I’m traveling or living abroad it tends to be the only thing available, anyway :)

fresh cilantro, shredded
fresh Thai basil leaves
lime wedges
chili garlic sauce

Method

In a large pot over medium heat, add the ginger, star anise and cinnamon sticks to 4 cups vegetable broth (diluted with 2 cups water) and simmer about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare shirataki noodles according to package instructions.

Reduce heat to low and remove the ginger, star anise, and cinnamon. Stir in 4 Tbsp vegetarian fish sauce and let simmer on low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Drain shirataki noodles and divide among 4 bowls. Top with broth, scallions, cilantro, basil leaves, jalapeno, red onion, and bean sprouts. Serve with chili garlic sauce and lime wedges.

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Thai Corn Soup with Kale

thai corn kale soup

This Thai Corn Soup with Kale is low fat. Low Sodium. Sugar Free. Gluten Free. Nonetheless it is flavorful and satisfying, and reminiscent of traditional Thai soups. While canned coconut milk is a “key ingredient” in soups and curries served at Thai restaurants in the USA, I just can’t stomach the 30+ grams of fat per serving or 40 grams of sugar.  I am excited about this recipe because it manages to emulate the “traditional” quality I would expect at a Thai restaurant– without the fat / sugar / sodium overload. The tofu makes this a hearty, substantial meal despite the absence of animal protein. Continue reading

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Skinny Lad Na

Skinny Lad NaLad na is a Lao-Chinese noodle dish, made popular as a street food in Laos, Thailand. Also spelled Lard na, lard nar and lard nah, it is traditionally prepared with stir-fried wide rice noodles and protein (chicken, beef or tofu), as well as enoki mushrooms aka straw mushrooms, broccoli, black bean garlic sauce and/or oyster sauce. A friend of mine suggested we try making a vegan version, and after a few minutes of research we decided it would be easy to make it vegan and low carb. First off, after looking online at photos of traditional Lad Na, I realized that wide rice noodles (the type that most recipes call for) resemble the Shiritaki noodles I’ve been using as a replacement for flat egg noodles in pad thai– like in this recipe. Secondly, the best vegetarian replacement for oyster sauce is mushroom stir fry sauce, most of the ingredients for which are already present in black bean garlic sauce. Next, I swapped an equivalent amount of stevia for sugar, and then reduced the fat content by adding a tsp of sesame oil to pre-boiled Shirataki noodles for flavor only– as opposed to frying the noodles in a wok with cottonseed oil. Lastly, sodium free vegetarian broth served as a simple replacement for the traditional beef broth. Continue reading

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Spicy Tofu Hot Pot with Snap Peas and Sauerkraut

Spicy tofu hot pot with snap peas and saurkraut
This Spicy Tofu Hot Pot is inspired by a recipe with the “vegetarian weight watchers” tag on the blog Please Pass the Tofu. The recipe calls for kimchi, which I did not have time to make and since it was after 8pm most Asian grocery stores were closed. At the conventional grocery store I was able to find the other ingredients and a few extras in order to tweak the recipe a bit, and since kimchi was a no-go I bought a can of the most basic sauerkraut (Western Family brand for about sixty cents), Chinese hot mustard, and chili garlic hot sauce (the same kind you can expect to find on the table at Thai restaurants, which I always use a ridiculous amount of). The original recipe also calls for cayenne pepper, which I already had at home. If you’re sensitive to spicy food, you may want to leave out the cayenne and reduce the amount of chili sauce as well. Just a head’s up. So my objective, in buying the chili sauce and hot mustard, was to give the sauerkraut a kimchi-like quality. I don’t know if that’s what was achieved, but I was satisfied with the result nonetheless and plan to use chili sauce and hot mustard soaked sauerkraut in other recipes because it’s actually quite delicious. Continue reading

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