The nights are finally cooling off here in Southern California. I think I speak for most everyone who lives here when I say, “Let’s get this cool weather going!” It’s been a LONG summer and as we move into October we’re still seeing 90+ degree temps. It’s enough to drive you crazy. So you can imagine how excited I was the other day when it was chilly enough to wear a light sweater. I’ve been avoiding making soups or baking because of the heat – and how I’ve missed all of that goodness! – so I jumped on the opportunity to whip up a nice, hearty soup inspired by the Vietnamese soup called Pho.
We’ve introduced both of our kids to pho as toddlers because it’s one of the few gluten free dining options if we want to go out. Traditional pho is made with beef or chicken stock, rice noodles, meat (or tofu), and sometimes vegetables. It’s served with a platter of fresh Thai basil, bean sprouts, and some other spicy leafy green called culantro (thanks for that insight, Kira!). The kids both took a liking to the tofu and noodles from a young age, so I thought I’d throw together a pho-style soup that would give everyone in the family something they like to eat.
*Note: Any of the veggies listed can be eliminated or substituted based on your preferences. I mostly use seasonal produce from a local farm and sometimes that makes for an untraditional mix of flavors 😉
2 quarts GF chicken stock (Costco)
1 eggplant, cubed
1 tomato, chopped
2 yellow squash, cut in ¼” slices
Generous handful of green beans, cut in fourths
4-5 leafs of kale, pulled from the stem and hand shredded into smallish pieces
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2-4 cloves garlic (depending on your preference), minced
Olive oil, 4 tablespoons, divided
2 tablespoons Tamari (or gluten free soy sauce)
Salt & Pepper, to your liking
Extra-firm Tofu, cubed
2 dry cakes GF ramen noodles
Chop the veggies that take longest to cook first so that you can chop the rest of the ingredients while those are already in the pan. So start with cutting up your onions, eggplant, and green beans. Put those in a large soup pot (at least 5 quarts capacity) over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about 3-5 minutes.
While that’s cooking, cut up the tomato, squash, kale, tofu, and garlic and add to the pot along with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sautee all of that for another 3-4 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a low boil over high heat.
Add the GF ramen noodle cakes. Cook for another 8-10 minutes or until the noodles are soft.
Add 2 tablespoons tamari plus salt & pepper to your liking.
Serve immediately. Remember to let it cool for the little ones.
One thing I love about soups is that you can fairly easily deconstruct them into the parts that your kid wants to eat. For instance, my 2-year-old only wants the tofu and noodles so I take those parts out of the pot and serve them on their own. From experience, I know that their tastes will get more adventurous as they get older and the key is to keep exposing them to healthy food choices at every meal.