1 recipe vegetarian pho broth
1/2 pound firm tofu, cut in dominoes (optional)
Soy sauce to taste (optional)
12 ounces soba or wide rice noodles
1 broccoli stem, peeled and cut in 1 1/2-inch julienne, steamed for 1 minute
1 broccoli crown, sliced thin and steamed for 1 minute
1 large carrot (about 5 ounces) peeled and cut in 1 1/2-inch julienne
1 medium turnip, peeled and cut in 1 1/2-inch julienne
1/2 cup Asian or purple basil leaves, slivered
4 scallions, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 to 4 bird or serrano chilies, sliced thin or finely chopped (to taste)
6 mint sprigs
3 to 4 limes, cut in wedges
1. Have the broth at a simmer in a soup pot. Place the tofu in a bowl and season with soy sauce if desired.
2. For soba: Bring 3 or 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the noodles gradually, so that the water remains at a boil, and stir once with a long-handled spoon or pasta fork so that they don’t stick together. Wait for the water to come back up to a rolling boil – it will bubble up, so don’t fill the pot all the way – and add 1 cup of cold water. Allow the water to come back to a rolling boil and add another cup of cold water. Allow the water to come to a boil one more time and add a third cup of water. When the water comes to a boil again, the noodles should be cooked through. Drain and divide among 6 large soup bowls.
For rice noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles. Cook until just al dente, firm to the bite, following the timing instructions on the package (my wide noodles take about 5 minutes). Drain and divide among 6 large soup bowls.
3. Add the turnips and carrots to the simmering broth and simmer until just tender, about 2 minutes. Divide the tofu and the steamed broccoli crowns and stems among the bowls. Ladle in the hot broth with carrots and turnips. Sprinkle on half the cilantro, half the basil leaves and the green onions. Pass the chopped chilies, the mint sprigs and the remaining basil and cilantro for guests to add as desired, and the lime wedges for guests to squeeze on. Serve with chopsticks for the noodles and soup spoons for the soup.