06.11.2022
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23.01.2022

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A beautifully aromatic, brothy mushroom soup that combines the warm wintery flavours of cinnamon, cloves and star anise with the zingy freshness of lime and coriander. Inspired by the traditional Vietnamese soup called Pho.

Hello hello! Happy New Year! (In Greece we say Happy New Year until at least Valentine’s Day, and why not? It’s still new isn’t it?!) I hope you all had a lovely holiday season. I’m back with a deeeeelicious soup, the flavours of which intrigued me from the moment I started researching it. I mean, cinnamon and cloves with lime and coriander? Who would have thought?

Mushroom Soup with Stelline Pasta, Inspired by Vietnamese Pho www.thefooodiecorner.gr Photo description: Some fresh mushrooms, an onion and two pieces of ginger on a round metal surface.

Well, it turns out the people of Vietnam would have thought. And they created Pho, a soup made with bone broth, beef, rice noodles and the above mentioned spices and garnishes. Oh, plus basil too! I have never tried proper Pho, and now I wouldn’t as I avoid meat, but having tasted this soup here I think I can safely say it must be delicious.

Mushroom Soup with Stelline Pasta, Inspired by Vietnamese Pho www.thefooodiecorner.gr Photo description: A metal box full of stelline pasta (small star shaped pasta), some of it spilling out onto the marble surface beneath.

Now this recipe here cannot be called Pho as it’s too different to the original, but it would also be wrong of me not to mention that I used Pho as a springboard to develop it. They have many ingredients in common and also several similarities in the cooking method. Of course I base this information on the results of my research online, so there may be some mistakes for which I hope I will be forgiven.

Mushroom Soup with Stelline Pasta, Inspired by Vietnamese Pho www.thefooodiecorner.gr Photo description: A chopping board with grilled mushrooms, charred onion and a piece of ginger with a knife next to it. On the marble surface next to the board are some charred onion peels.

So how did it come about? Well, I wanted to develop a mushroom soup that would include pasta, but I didn’t want the usual creamy type. I have two of those here and here, so I wanted to find something different. After having seen so many beautiful images of various noodle soups on Instagram and Pinterest, I thought maybe I could create something with those in mind. I looked up both Pho and Ramen, but I must say Pho intrigued me with its unusual flavour combo.

Mushroom Soup with Stelline Pasta, Inspired by Vietnamese Pho www.thefooodiecorner.gr Photo description: Star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves and spices arranged in small bowls and dishes on a marble surface.

Now the correct noodles for Pho are rice noodles, not wheat. And especially not the tiny wheat pasta called stelline that I used here! But I do enjoy these pretty little stars in soup, aren’t they cute? The other major difference as I mentioned above is the main base of the soup, which in Pho is bone broth and here it’s mushrooms. I used two types, fresh shiitake and fresh grey oyster mushrooms, plus some mushroom stock, to get maximum flavour. In terms of spices, Pho often has fennel seeds too, but I don’t like them so I didn’t use them. I also only left the star anise in for 5 minutes to get just a hint of it, as I find it overpowering sometimes. You can go with what your taste buds tell you!

The method of charring the onion and ginger before making the broth seems to be a common and important step. Ideally you would use an open flame but I went with the grill (broiler for my US friends) as I don’t have a gas stove and didn’t fancy risking getting kicked out of our new apartment with any experiments.

Mushroom Soup with Stelline Pasta, Inspired by Vietnamese Pho www.thefooodiecorner.gr Photo description: Mushrooms and other soup ingredients in a dark liquid inside the saucepan.

Another important tip for this soup and indeed any noodle soup is that you should cook the pasta or noodles separately. That for me is counter-intuitive as keeping my washing up to a minimum is always a goal. Normally I would pop my pasta in the soup towards the end of cooking time. But apparently this will result in a cloudy and slightly thicker soup (due to the starch), which is not what we want. It makes total sense, and I feel sometimes it’s worth washing an extra pan in order to get a good result. The clearness of this brothy soup is characteristic and worth the (minimal) extra effort.

Mushroom Soup with Stelline Pasta, Inspired by Vietnamese Pho www.thefooodiecorner.gr Photo description: A chopping board with garnishes of coriander leaves, bean sprouts, spring onions, chilli pepper and lime wedges.

So, here we are with a beautifully flavourful mushroomy liquid full of the wintery aromas of cinnamon, cloves, star anise and coriander. We pour it over our cooked pasta and chopped mushrooms and then… load up on the garnishes! The lime and fresh coriander are a MUST here, don’t skip them. (The bean sprouts are also delicious but by the third time I had this soup I had run out and I still loved it.) The explosion of flavours in your mouth will surprise you in the most pleasant way! I really hope you try it.

If you do, don’t forget to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram! (@thefoodiecorner)

Until next time… enjoy!

Mushroom Soup with Stelline Pasta, Inspired by Vietnamese Pho www.thefooodiecorner.gr Photo description: A bowl of styled soup with stelline pasta in the middle, some mushrooms to the side, some broth surrounding them and some garnishes of coriander leaves, sliced spring onions, chilli peppers, bean sprouts and lime wedges. To the right is a small marble chopping board with extra garnishes.

Ingredients

1 large onion, whole (unpeeled)

1 large piece of ginger (about 7 cm, unpeeled)

150 gr fresh shiitake mushrooms (choose large ones)

100 gr grey oyster mushrooms (choose large ones, if they are connected don’t cut them)

2 star anise (see note)

2 cinnamon sticks

1/4 tsp cloves (whole)

1/2 tsp coriander, ground

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt flakes (preferably smoked)

2 Tbs soy sauce (I used dark)

1 Tbs white vinegar

1 lt hot water

500 ml mushroom stock (from a stock cube or stock pot)

150 gr stelline pasta (or other small pasta shape)

a few drops of olive oil or virgin sesame oil for the pasta

Garnishes (to taste)

fresh coriander, roughly chopped

spring onions, finely sliced (green parts included)

bean sprouts (fresh or tinned)

fresh chilli pepper, finely sliced (optional)

lime wedges

Step 1

Preheat the oven grill (broiler) to its highest setting. Cut the onion in half lengthwise (skin on) and the ginger into 2-3 pieces (also skin on). Pop them onto a baking tray (cut sides down) and put the mushrooms on the tray next to them (whole). Place the tray on the middle rack and let them cook for 11-15 minutes or until they have black spots. The mushrooms will start to soften and release juices. Set the tray aside.

Step 2

Heat a medium to large saucepan over high heat (without fat) and add the star anise, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Stir often and when they start to smell nice add the coriander and garlic powders. Let them toast for a few seconds and then quickly add the sugar, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, water and stock.

Step 3

Gently peel the onion so that the two pieces stay whole and the layers don’t separate. Peel the ginger by rubbing it with the tip of a teaspoon. Add the onion, ginger and whole mushrooms to the saucepan. When everything comes to boil lower the heat and let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. If the liquid starts evaporating too much cover the pan (probably after about 30 minutes).

Step 4

Just before the broth is ready boil the pasta as per package instructions so that it’s al dente. Drain and drizzle with a teaspoon or two of olive or virgin sesame oil. Shake the colander to coat the pasta and set aside.

Step 5

Strain the stock and using tongs pick out the onion and mushrooms. Keep the onion for another time (see notes) and chop the mushrooms (including the stems).

Step 6

To assemble the bowls put some pasta and mushroom pieces in them, pour over some broth and garnish with fresh coriander, spring onion, bean sprouts and chilli pepper. Squeeze some lime over the top and enjoy!

Notes
To simplify the process you can strain the broth and boil the pasta directly in it. But the soup will be slightly thicker and cloudy. Also, you can chop the cooked onion and pop that in too if desired, but I enjoyed it in a sandwich with salad leaves and hummus! If you don’t want the fresh chilli peppers you can just add some dried chilli flakes at the end, or omit altogether.

I took the star anise out after about 5 minutes of boiling as anything more than a hint of it is a bit overpowering for my taste. But you can adjust according to your preference.

The Greek version of this post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Eha
    24/01/2022

    Lovely to see you back and with such an interesting recipe I just have to try – and repost 🙂 !!! Now, living Down Under, I have made pho almost all my life and absolutely love it ! Indeed your offering does have similarities ! Do not know the star-shaped pasta you use . . . no worries and will make my own mushroom broth . . . but other than that there is no problem other than time to get into the kitchen . . . have all the ingredients !

    • Reply
      24/01/2022

      Hi Eha! Thanks for being here <3 I am very interested in what you think of this soup since you are so familiar with the real deal! Can't wait to hear back. The pasta is quite an unusual shape that's true, but the great thing about pasta is that you can easily sub with a different shape. Or indeed use proper noodles, lol! All the best x