Happy New Year everyone!  Well it’s January 5th already!  I don’t know about you but we ate, drank, ate some more, and then ate some more only after drinking (but never driving – a big thank you to all the designated drivers out there!) some more.  Time to get back on the sensible eating/drinking program we worked so hard at, over the first 49 weeks of the year.  So, here’s a lovely soup recipe for you to make – quasi Pho style! It’s nutritious and can be flavoured in any way you like. It comes together beautifully and tastes awesome. The ingredients can be varied – as with most soup recipes I post. This one has thinly sliced beef, mussels, shrimp, scallops, bok choy, bean sprouts and of course Thai chilies for garnish.  I bought the ready sliced thin beef that comes rolled up and usually frozen – but really, save yourself more than a few dollars by buying a good steak, throw it in the freezer for 20 – 30 minutes and thinly slice. 

The vegetable stock can be either home made or bought.  Easy enough to make at home – just a couple of carrots, onions, celery stalks, bay leaf, garlic, peppercorns, cloves (optional), parsley stems, thyme stems etc. – and any other vegetable you happen to have in your refrigerator.  Bring it to boil, reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.  Strain and voila – vegetable stock.  This will be even more flavored with the simmering of the other vegetables you are adding to your soup.  I didn’t use noodles, too much for us – but you can most definitely use the rice noodles, soba noodles  or any other kind of noodle you like.  I typically make this soup on a Monday morning before I head off for my “What’s for Dinner” classes.  This quantity lasts us for at least 3 evening suppers.  We don’t mind as it just tastes better the longer it stays together.  If it gets too thick, I just add more stock or water and re-season for taste.  I also don’t add everything at once i.e. I add meat/seafood/veg to the soup stock as the quantities get eaten. This way, nothing is overcooked – just leave extra raw product in an airtight container in the freezer until needed, then thaw in the fridge and add to the stock. Soup!

1 steak – about 6 oz, in the freezer for about 20 minutes, then thinly sliced
20 medium shrimp
20 mussels, fresh – cleaned, or frozen meat
20 small scallops
10 or so pieces of baby bok choy, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
2l vegetable stock, home made (ingredients and method above, no excuses not to make it) or store bought
Seasonings – chili oil, garlic oil, soya sauce, salt, pepper, turmeric and sriracha – whatever you like – optional – coriander, lemongrass or lime juice

Bring the stock to a boil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, reduce to a simmer
Add the beef and cook – 30 seconds to 1 minute or to your likeness – remove to a plate and cover to keep warm
Add the mussels – cook until the shells are open or the mussels are cooked – follow instructions on package if frozen – remove and keep warm – Do not eat any that don’t open. If using frozen mussels, please ensure you have cleaned them as they sometimes will still have the beard on the cleaned meat.
Add the scallops – 2 minutes or so, remove and keep warm
Add the shrimp – cook until they turn pink – remove and keep warm
Add the bok choy – cook for 3 minutes
Add all the ingredients back to the pot and bring back to a boil
Note:  If using noodles, cook them separately and only add what is needed to the individual soup bowls for the meal.  If you add it to the pot directly, they will absorb all the stock by the next day – and while you will have delicious tasting noodles, you won’t have any soup left.
Taste – season with any of the seasonings above – taste, season and taste again – perfect!
As always – enjoy!
pho soup