Vegetarian Pho

Are you a pho addict yet? I didn’t know about this brothy Vietnamese soup until a couple of years ago, but once I did I was hooked. HOOKED I tell you!

Most commonly you see it made with thinly shaved raw beef that’s cooked by the heat of the broth and ladled over rice noodles. You’re given mix-ins like bean sprouts, lime, basil and chilli on the side that you can add at your own discretion. Interactive food! You know I love that.

But it’s often hard to find vegetarian-friendly versions of pho in restaurants. Luckily, you can make this aromatic broth at home pretty easily and load it up with all the veggies you want.

My version used a heap of mushrooms and spinach, as well as soba noodles in the place of the rice noodles. Traditional? Not all all. Vegetable-packed, slightly spicy, aniseedy pho-like goodness? Yessir.

You can easily make this broth non-vegetarian by using beef or chicken broth and fish sauce. I personally prefer the fish sauce here instead of soy sauce, but it’s up to you. You could also add cooked shredded chicken or prawns.

Vegetarian Pho Broth (serves 4)
adapted very slightly from The Kitchn

- 1 large onion, peeled and halved
- 4-inch/10-cm piece fresh ginger root, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 2 3-inch/7.5-cm cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 8 cups vegetable stock (or stock of you choice)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or fish sauce)
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

Char onion and ginger directly under a broiler until slightly blackened, about 5 minutes on each side. Rinse with water.

In a large pot, dry roast cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and coriander over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent burning. When spices are aromatic (about 2 minutes), add vegetable stock, soy sauce, carrots, and charred onion and ginger.

Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain and keep hot until ready to serve.

Vegetarian Pho
- soba noodles (or rice noodles)
- 3 cups mushrooms
- 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Toppings
- finely chopped chilies
- finely chopped green onion
- bean sprouts
- basil
- mint
- cilantro
- sriracha

Prepare noodles ahead. For soba noodles, cook in boiling water for about 4 minutes (according to package) strain and portion into bowls. If using rice noodles, soak in boiling water for approximately 20 minutes or according to package instructions. Pour broth over the noodles when you’re ready to serve.

I added sliced mushrooms to my finished broth and cooked covered for about 10 minutes until tender, adding the spinach in the last minute or two. Serve hot with desired toppings.

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6 Comments to “Vegetarian Pho”

  1. You sure do make it sound easy! The broth is so complexly flavored that I never thought about making it at home. But this is such a delicious meal–and kid-friendly, since everyone can add what they like to their bowls!

    • I was always intimidated by it, but this Kitchn recipe surprised me – it really tastes like pho broth! Although admittedly I prefer it with the beef broth (I’ve made it both ways.) Definitely make it if you’re curious! :)

  2. I’ve never made or eaten pho, but I really want to! I really will have to give it a go in addition to other eastern dishes – we have a new Asian supermarket where I live and can get my hands on some cool ingredients :D

  3. I am a Pho addict too! I hadn’t thought to try and make it at home – so thank you for the post. Nice pics :)

  4. oh man, this looks so delicious! Great work!

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