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There's really only one way to fight a nasty cold: pho

I kind of have a lot going on these days.

Between prepping for a fast-approaching cookbook release, spending my days at my awesome full-time job, and receiving the completely zany, absolutey crazy, I-can-hardly-believe-my-life-these-days news that the sitcom pilot I developed called

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Young and Hungry

freaking got the green light from ABC Family on Friday, I have been doing a lot of running around, not unlike a popular poultry variety with its head cut off.

And you know what I don't have time for right now? This cold.

It's a nasty one and there's really only one way to fight it: pho. Preferably one that doesn't take very long to make and that doubles as a great opportunity to clean out my vegetable bin.

I like to top it with tons of fresh cilantro, fresh minced garlic, and sometimes mint and basil. A few slurpfuls of this one and you'll be feeling like a whole new girl. Or at least a slightly healthier one.

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil, divided

Pantry
1 onion, chopped 50 cents
5 cloves garlic, minced, divided Pantry
1 2-inch piece ginger (no need to peel it), minced 50 cents
1 small bunch fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped, divided $1 for a bunch
5 tablespoons soy sauce (or to taste) Pantry
2 whole star anise pods (if you can't find whole pods, use 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise) $1.50 for 1 ounce
2 teaspoons honey Pantry
1 teaspoon black pepper Pantry
8 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes $1.50 for 12 ounces
salt Pantry
8 ounces dried rice vermicelli $2
2 tablespoons rice vinegar, plus more to taste $2 for 10 ounces
1/2 green jalapeno, sliced 25 cents for a whole jalapeno
Asian chili sauce and hoisin sauce to pass at the table Optional

Total cost of ingredients: $9.25

DIRECTIONS

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, 4 cloves of the garlic, the ginger, and the cilantro stems. Feel free to also add any lingering vegetable odds and ends in your refrigerator-this is a great opportunity to use them up!

Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until very fragrant.

Add the soy sauce and stir well. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until soy sauce begins to cook off.

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Add 8 cups of water and stir well.

Add the star anise pods, honey, and black pepper and stir.

Cover the pot and allow to cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

While the broth cooks, heat the remaining oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat.

Add the cubed tofu and fry until lightly crisp.

Drain on a paper towel and salt lightly. Set aside.

Strain the broth and return to the pot.

Taste for salt and add more soy sauce if needed.

Cover the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the rice noodles and cook for 8-9 minutes or until tender.

Stir the remaining clove of minced garlic and the rice vinegar and stir well.

Ladle the soup into bowls, using tongs for the noodles if necessary.

Divide the fried tofu between the bowls.

Garnish each bowl with cilantro and sliced jalapeno.

Serve with Asian chili sauce and hoisin sauce if desired.

Recipe Serves 2-3.

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