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Short Orders

Broths add a kick to pho

By Jialu Chen
Globe Correspondent / September 14, 2011

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If you’ve ever ordered pho noodle soup in a Vietnamese restaurant, you no doubt remember the flashy plate of toppings that comes with it: heaps of basil leaves, stacks of bean sprouts, and wedges of lime, all waiting to be added to your bowl. But the rich, warm broth is the real kicker - a product of hours of slow simmering with uncommon spices like star anise and Saigon cinnamon. For a less fussy home version, Pacific Natural Foods, the folks who make chicken, beef, and vegetable broths, now offer Pho Soup Starters ($3.49-$3.69 for 32 ounces), in the same varieties. To make pho, bring the broth to a boil, preferably with equal parts water (so the broth isn’t overpowering), with a few slices of onion for texture and flavor. Stir in cooked rice noodles or vermicelli noodles, and a few slices of shaved beef, chunks of chicken, or squares of fried tofu. Finally, turn your attention to those enticing toppings. Available at Shaw’s, Hannaford, and Whole Foods Market locations.