Vegetable Pho

A blend of aromatic spices brings the traditional complex flavors of pho to a vegetarian version.

Vegetable Pho

Pho has a reputation for requiring a long, slow simmer -- and this reputation is true, for the meaty version. Fortunately, it takes much less time to extract maximum flavor from a potful of vegetables. A blend of fragrant spices ensures that this pot of broth will have all the complex, warm flavors of the pho broth you know and love, while charred ginger and onion add sweetness and depth. This soup is as customizable as you want to make it -- once you have the broth, you can add any vegetable, noodle, condiment, or protein you might desire.

Spices used in this recipe

Cloves, Whole
Star Anise
Coriander, Seeds Whole
Cinnamon Sticks
Peppercorns, Black Tellicherry
Salt, Kosher
Fennel Seed


To serve:

  • 1 package dried rice noodles

  • 1 lb. baby bok choy or other green vegetable such as Chinese broccoli or spinach, thinly sliced
½ lb. daikon radish, peeled and sliced in matchsticks (if you can’t find daikon, try regular pink radishes)

  • 1 lb. mung or soy bean sprouts
2 large handfuls cilantro sprigs
4 large sprigs Thai basil, or regular basil if you can’t find Thai

  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
Hoisin sauce as desired

  • Sriracha or other hot sauce as desired


  1. Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add cloves, star anise, coriander, cinnamon sticks, and peppercorns and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Remove toasted spices to a small bowl and set aside. Raise heat to high and add canola oil. Place onion and ginger in the pot, onion sitting cut side down. Cook, stirring the ginger occasionally, until seared and approaching charred. Flip onion around halfway through to char the other side. 
  2. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add water and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add shiitakes, lemongrass, sugar, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing down on the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Remove the mushrooms from the vegetables and reserve.
  3. Return the broth to the pot and bring back up to a simmer. Add soy sauce and vinegar, stir, and adjust seasoning with additional soy sauce, vinegar, or salt as desired. Keep on low heat as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Cook rice noodles according to package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water and set aside. Thinly slice re-hydrated shiitake mushrooms. Arrange bean sprouts, herbs, and lime wedges on a plate.
  5. To serve, bring the broth up to a simmer. Divide the noodles into large soup bowls and top with bok choy, daikon, and sliced mushrooms. Ladle hot broth over the top of each soup bowl, and allow each person to add however much of the bean sprouts, herbs, lime juice, and other condiments as they desire.

Serves 4-6. Adapted from Vegan Eats World

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