If any of you follow the weather or look at your smartphones at the weather map, you already know that it has been ridiculously cold throughout the country this week. With wind chills in the negatives and the highs in the single digits, this January weather has not made my morning commutes all that pleasant.
My coworker Rob and I ride the same bus in the morning, and our mean bus driver refuses to drop us off closer to work like other buses do. She has no pity for us and she isn’t a morning person. With our transit center in town being rebuilt, the buses are lined up across the street from it. Not a huge deal, except it adds about 2 minutes of walking to our normal walk to the office. Also not a big deal, except when it’s -6 degrees with a windchill of -20, so by the time you do get to the office, your legs are nonexistent, as is your face.
And hey, I dress for cold weather. I live in Michigan, I’m not an idiot. But no matter how warm you dress, or how many layers you wear, or how tight you have your scarf, nothing can prepare you for that cold that hits your face gets when you step off the warm bus. Then when you get home your dog, who has a double coat and is made for weather like this, wants to play outside. And since the light is staying out longer each day, you feel guilt if you don’t play fetch with him in the backyard before you feed him.
Routine, people. I’m getting used to it. Cold weather. Also getting used to it. I have to come to terms with the fact that we most likely will not have an unusually warm winter like we did last year. Sad truth. But there are things you can do to help.
And that’s to make soup. Not just any soup. Vietnamese soup or Pho. So that’s exactly what I did. I’ve never made pho before but I have had it and if I didn’t live in Ann Arbor – the city where hippies and yuppies coexist harmoniously – I might not be able to find decent vegetarian pho that isn’t made with meat broth. There are several places that make some decent pho around here, but I decided to try making it myself.
And you know what? It was PHOnomenal. See what I did there?
Try it. It’s delicious and while I did use a shortcut to make this version, it turned out great, reheated great (for REB after class), and kept me warm while watching Full House reruns. Don’t judge me. I’ll never tire of Uncle Jesse and the whole gang.
- 1 carton (4 cups) Vegetarian Pho soup base (Pacific natural foods brand or similar)
- 1 small ginger root, peeled and cut into discs
- 2 Serrano peppers (jalalpeno is fine), sliced into discs
- 2 tablespoons Lite soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 12 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
- 8 oz. (half a block) extra firm tofu, sliced thin into strips or squares
- 8 oz. Stir fry rice noodles
- 1 lime, sliced into wedges
- Garnishes: cilantro, basil, Serrano peppers and lime wedges
- Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil – about 20 minutes
- While the water comes to a boil, pour the entire carton of soup base into a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the soy sauce, ginger discs and sliced Serrano pepper and heat through stirring occasionally.
- In a separate pan or skillet heat the olive oil.
- When it is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and cook until browned and tender, about 5-8 minutes.
- Remove the mushrooms, transfer to small bowl and set side.
- In the same pan, add the tofu slices and cook until browned on all side, another 8-10 minutes.
- When cooked, add the tofu to the simmering broth
- When the water is boiling, remove from heat and add the rice noodles. Let them sit/soak in the hot water for 8 minutes until softened.
- When done, drain and rinse noodles under cold water.
- TO ASSEMBLE:
- Divide noodles among all bowls.
- Ladle some of of the broth over noodles, enough to slightly submerge them.
- Top bowls with tofu slices and mushrooms (about 2-3 pieces of tofu per bowl, a few mushrooms)
- Add your garnishes and squeeze lime wedge before serving
What foods are keeping you warm this winter?