Copied from Stephanie O'Day's A Year of Slow Cooking.


Day 148.
Phee Phi Pho Phum.
this is good.you should make some.
I think one of the best things about making this soup was the day of jokes. The jokes rock.
"You made this? Pho reals?"
"Pho sure I did."

Every Monday Adam goes out to lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant and has pho. I've never gone out for pho, and he has never brought me back any. After about the sixteenth week, I stopped secretly hoping he'd bring me some and started whining about it out loud.
I was thrilled when I discovered Erin's blog and read her Pho recipe. I could tell that it would transfer nicely to slow crockpot cooking, and was excited to have some pho of my own.

Although I used homemade beef stock for this recipe, it's okay to use a can or a carton.

The Ingredients. adapted from The Skinny Gourmet
--6 cups beef broth or stock
--2 inch chunk of ginger (I just read that Erin said to use 1/4-1/2 inch of peeled ginger. oops. I didn't peel and just threw a hunk in)
--3/4 t anise 
--1 cinnamon stick
--2 sliced green onions
--1 lb thin sliced beef (I used stir-fry meat from the butcher)
--package of rice noodles (usually in the ethnic aisle in the grocery store)
--1 t fish sauce (anchovies, salt, water. ethnic aisle again. it smells horrible.)
--1/2 t kosher salt
--1/2 t black pepper

The Directions.
Put all of the broth into the crockpot. Add the meat, green onion, ginger, fish sauce, and spices. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 4-6. It's done when the meat is fully cooked. I used a 6qt Smart Pot for this recipe and it took a good 4 hours on high for the large amount of broth in my crock to get hot enough to cook the meat. 

15 minutes before serving, add the entire package of rice noodles to the pot. Push them under the liquid with a wooden spoon, and cover.

By the time you set the table, the noodles will be tender and glass-like. Serve in bowls. We didn't add any additional garnish, but you can add bean sprouts, fresh cilantro or basil, and lime wedges.


The Verdict.
This has a very nice mellow flavor. I loved the hint of anise (tastes like black licorice) and the cinnamon. I needed to add more salt because I used the homemade stock as the base. Adam said it tasted the same as the restaurant's, but not as oily or as salty.

The next day the flavors were even more pronounced (but the noodles got weird. Next time I'm not going to add all the noodles at once) and made a lovely lunch. The night I prepared this, we had company and the children were playing too hard to stop and give it a taste test. But the little one ate quite a bit the next day for lunch.


Note: As with most Asian cooking Pho can have just about anything in it as long as the base of the soup remains the same and has rice noodles in it. Pho can be made with any type of protein, can include tofu, and pretty much whatever vegetables you feel like adding. If you have the time I would recommend pan searing any meat you intend to use before adding it to the slow cooker, this will result in a deeper flavor as well as better color in the meat. There is nothing I find less appealing than the look of boiled meat.
 
 

Recipe copied from http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/01/crockpot-hot-and-sour-soup-recipe.html 

--1 cup cubed firm tofu (I used one-half of that Trader Joe's two-pack.)
--2 cups chicken broth
--2 cups water
--1 package of sliced mushrooms
--1 can bamboo shoots
--1 can sliced water chestnuts
--2 tablespoon soy sauce (La Choy is gluten-free)
--1 teaspoon sesame oil
--2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (and some more later)
--1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (and some more later)
--green onion for garnish

The Directions:
Wash your hands.

Combine everything in your slow cooker. I used a 5 quart, and I think it was filled about 2/3 of the way full. 

If I did it again, I'd use a 3 or 4 quart. Cook on low for 7-9 hours or high 4-5. I was impatient and cooked it on high for 3 1/2. The mushrooms would have been better if I had waited.

Taste. If you need more of the sour flavor, add more rice wine vinegar. If you need more of the hot flavor, add more red pepper flakes. I like my soup very hot and sour, so I added another 1 tablespoob of the vinegar and another 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper flakes. Garnish with sliced green onion.

The Verdict:
I could probably eat this all day long. So I did. My kids really like it--they eat the broth and the tofu and leave the rest. You could easily slip in lots more veggies that you have on hand---carrots, celery, those cute little canned corncobs, etc. Many recipes call for cooked chicken or pork, which would be a great addition if you have some on hand or wanted to meat it up. 


Note: I'm not a fan of mushrooms in this soup. I honestly can say I have never had a hot and sour soup with mushrooms in it. That being said, hot and sour is more in reference to the soup base, you can put whatever noodles, protein, and veggies or fungus you might have on hand. That's one of the wonderful things about Asian soups is that the name is usually just referencing some of the basic ingredients and everything else is up to the discretion of the cook. The most common ingredients I have seen is egg, sea weed, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, green onions, bits of chicken, and tofu. Hot and Sour Soup is commonly used in Asian countries as a a remedy for colds, sinus infections, sore throats and allergies. The heat from the spices as well as the temperature help loosen phlegm and nasal congestion and the vinegar helps soothe sore throats as well as help cut through any gunk in your throat.
 
 
Ok, so a few of you have asked for Slow Cooker Recipes. I do not have a slow cooker yet, but I do plan on getting one soon, and when I do I can post some of my own recipes. But to tide you over till I do, I found an awesome weblog called A Year of Slow Cooking at  http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2009/01/2008-flashback-entire-year-in-order.html

This lady actually made it her New Year's Resolution to cook with her new crock pot every day for the next year. And she did. Crazy! So go! Explore! And tell me which ones you liked! Im going to look through them and post some of the ones that I think look good, and once I get my slow cooker I will be sure to try them out and post my opinions. Thanks for reading!