Vietnamese pho is almost always meat based, but this vegetarian pho recipe is a good substitute recipe if you don't eat meat. It has depth of flavor, body in the broth and lots of spicy notes.
I'm not going to claim that this is the most authentic pho recipe out there. Because vietnamese pho soup is essentially meat based, made from beef or pork broth. But guys, if you truly want a vegetarian pho recipe, I'd definitely try this one out.
The base of a pho is always a flavorful broth and we've tried to pack in as much flavor as possible. Its deep, rich with strong, spicy notes that come from aromatics. Its really hard to not like this one!
Richa's Vegetarian Pho Making Tips
Add smoky charriness: We were trying to replace the depth of flavor that comes from a meaty broth in this recipe, and after scouring tons of recipes online, we decided to char the onion and ginger before adding it to the broth. The charring process adds flavor and a hint of smokiness, plus it also brings out the intense gingery flavor that you'll taste in the pho
Spices are your friend: We are adding four different spices here - cinnamon, star anise, cloves and coriander seeds. They are added whole and they really make the bulk of the aroma and flavor that you'll smell and taste in the first bite. It's important to use good quality spices here.
Don't overcook the broth: Yes, you heard that right. I've reiterated it with our recipe for homemade vegetable stock before. When making veggie stock or broth, it's important not to cook it for too long. Unlike a meat based stock, which you can leave on the stove to simmer for hours and it gets better with time, the same thing does not happen for a vegetable stock. It starts to lose flavor. 30 minutes of cooking is enough.
Don't skip the toppings: We love toppings! So bring it on. And in this case, topping make it better. So much better. With all the spices, toppings like fresh coriander (cilantro), mint, spring onions, lime etc add freshness to this vegetarian pho soup. We also love adding more veggies like mushrooms, broccoli, and some sauteed tofu. Those are not toppings ideally, but they make this pho crunchy, and turn it into a complete meal!
How to pronounce pho: I didn't know this till a while ago, and I had to share. Pho is actually pronounced as 'fuh' not 'foe'.
How to eat pho: The right way to eat pho is to use both chopsticks (or a fork) and a spoon. Use your chopsticks to mix everything together first and then pick noodles, veggies etc to eat. In between, use your spoon to scoop up your broth and slurp it up!
Seriously, the Vietnamese Pho is one of our favorites year-round soups. It's comforting when its cold out, and so fresh when it's warmer!
More Asian Noodle Soup Recipes
Watch How to make Vegetarian Pho Recipe Video
Vegetarian Pho Soup
For the Broth
- 1 teaspoon Oil
- 1 Onion large peeled and halved
- 2 inch Ginger peeled and halved lengthwise
- 3 inch Cinnamon piece
- 1 Star anise
- 2 Cloves
- 1 teaspoon Coriander seeds
- 4 cups Unsalted vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoon Soy sauce
- 4 Carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
For the Noodles
- 100 grams Flat rice noodles dried
- Water for boiling
- 50 grams Tofu
- 1 teaspoon Hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha
- 4-5 Button mushrooms diced into four
- 1 cup Bok choy / Chinese cabbage / Broccoli ⅓ cup each or any two of the three as desired
For the Garnishes
- 2 Scallions or green onions thinly sliced
- 1 Thai red chillies thinly sliced
- 1 Lime cut into wedges
- ½ cup Bean sprouts
- Cilantro / thai basil / mint a large handful of herbs
- To Serve-
- Hoisin sauce
- Sriracha optional
- Heat oil in a pan and char the onion halves and the ginger until slightly blackened, about 2-3 minutes on both sides. You may even put them under a broiler for 5 minutes.
- In a large pot, dry roast the cinnamon, star anise, cloves and coriander seeds over a medium low flame until aromatic. Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, carrots and the charred onions and ginger. Bring the broth to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer covered for about 30 minutes. Strain and keep hot on the side till ready to serve.
- While the broth is boiling, prepare the noodles. Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water till submerged. Let stand for 20-25 minutes or until tender but still chewy (if soaking the noodles as above does not soften them enough, blanch them in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds).
- Prepare the toppings as desired. You may tear or slice the cabbage and bok choy and steam the broccoli florets.
- Press the tofu in a couple of layers of paper towels for 10 minutes to drain the excess water. Slice and cook the tofu with the hoisin and sriracha for 2-3 in a frying pan.
- Divide the noodles between both the bowls, arrange the toppings over the noodles and ladle the hot broth over. Serve with the garnishes and the sauces on the side.
- Pho is best enjoyed while it's still hot
- Leftover broth can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days
- To make this vegetarian pho spicier, add ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes to the broth while it simmers. But the thai red chillies add enough heat on their own
- Pho is generally enjoyed with hoisin sauce or soy sauce on the side. In this case we've used that flavour by cooking the tofu with hoisin sauce.
- If you want to check out a meat based authentic pho recipes, my friend Maggie has a great recipe for it.