One of my goals for the new year is to try new flavors. I posted last night on Instagram about a spice scent that seemed to be very frequent in China during my travels and it wasn’t until this weekend that I realized it was star anise. And I’m totally obsessed with it! I decided to work on a version of Vietnamese Pho but made it slightly simpler by using my homemade chicken stock infused with spices. I then cooked spice-inflused pork shoulder in my Instant Pot to make this Aromatic Pork and Noodle Soup to top it all off!
If you have an Instant Pot then this meal will be very quick for you but if you only have a slow cooker you can easily prepare the pork in the morning, allow it to simmer all day and then prepare rest of the soup in the evening. I removed the bone-blade from the pork shoulder cut and left the meat in larger pieces. I stuffed whole garlic cloves into the pork shoulder and seasoned it with salt before searing it in my Instant Pot along with cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger pieces, chiles de árbol and star anise. You may have to purchase a few new spices for this recipe but you’ll be happy you did because you’re going to love the flavor combination.
Rice noodles don’t have much flavor on their own but I love that using them in this recipe makes it totally gluten-free! You get a great bite with the noodles as you slurp them up along with the broth and any toppings you choose.
Speaking of toppings! Outside of the tender pork I topped off my bowls with fresh cilantro and bean sprouts. You might also consider thinly sliced green onions, toasted peanuts, lime wedges or even a drizzle of Sriracha. Make these bowls your own.
I hope that you enjoy this soup as much as I enjoyed making it, not to mention it gives you another excuse to buy an Instant Pot!
- 1 medium onion, peeled, halved through root end
- 4 chiles de árbol or ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise pods
- 1 3" ginger piece, cut into large chunks
- 8 cups homemade chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, bone removed, cut in large pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces thin rice stick noodles
- Mung bean sprouts, fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems, thinly sliced scallions, chopped unsalted, roasted peanuts, and lime wedges (for serving)
- Heat a dry large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, cut side down, until lightly charred, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.
- Add 2 chiles, 2 garlic cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, and 2 star anise pieces to skillet and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large saucepan and add onion, half of the ginger ginger, and stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until broth is flavorful.
- Prepare the pork by cutting 3 slits in the top and insert the remaining garlic cloves. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the Instant Pot on the saute setting and add in the vegetable oil. Sear the pork on both sides. Turn the Instant Pot to manual-high pressure then add in the remaining star anise, cinnamon stick, ginger and chiles de árbol along with ½ cup of water. Close the Instant Pot and set for 40 minutes. Allow the pork to cook, release the steam and then remove the pork from the pot to shred.
- To prepare the soup bowl, soak the noodles in a bowl of warm water for 2-3 minutes to soften. Divide the noodles between 4 bowls and ladle the broth over the top.
- Top each bowl with the shredded pork and additional toppings as desired and serve immediately.