the saturday soup – vegetarian pho February 12, 2011

There couldn’t have been a more fitting week to share this recipe with you. It’s been a whirlwind few days – an up and back trip to NYC (more on that next week), too many moonshine cocktails while I was there (hold me) and not enough sleep (sleep is for wimps, right?). Add to that a pizza shoot – melty cheese on camera is no joke – which is only the first of many tough styling subjects this month. It’s been the perfect time to turn to soup that comforts me…and none does that better than pho. There is something so restorative and soothing in that richly flavored broth and having carte blanche to slurp those noodles.

Sadly for me, pho has become sort of a challenge since going veggie/pescatarian. While many places serve a version with shrimp instead of the eye/round steak, the base of the broth is the same for all bowls – a meat based broth. I’ve taken matters into my own hands and made a veggie version that’s really quite good. The smell as the broth is simmering is nothing short of intoxicating.

Listen carefully when I say this…ready? This is a base recipe for a vegetarian pho. One thing I’ve learned by hanging out with folks who like pho is that every person eats theirs differently. This broth doesn’t have a ton of salt cooked into it because I like to add a few splashes of Maggi seasoning or hoisin sauce to mine before I eat it. This soup also doesn’t have a lot of inherent heat – I love mine spicy but my sweetie does not. So I’ve left this as a fragrant, neutral broth that you can build on. Add more salt or soy to it. Simmer a Thai red chili in it if you want to go for the gusto. Add tofu, shrimp (if you want to go to the pescatarian route) or other veggies – some shelled edamame or bok choy instead of the cabbage would be yummy here. Just taste your broth – and take in some deep breath smells –  as you go along and adjust to your liking.

Vegetarian Pho – makes 4 medium bowls of pho – adapted from the recipe found on Vegetarian Times

  • 4 cups good quality low sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced into 1/8″ pieces
  • 6 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 small handful thai basil stems & leaves
  • 1 small handful cilantro stems & leaves
  • 1 8 ounce package dried rice noodles
  • 2 cups shredded Napa or Savoy cabbage
  • 2 cups fresh mung bean or soybean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped or torn Thai basil
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish
  • Optional for serving: sliced fresh jalapenos, Maggi seasoning, extra soy sauce, Sriracha, hot garlic chili sauce

– For the broth: Place the first 12 ingredients in a large soup pot with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce temperature and simmer mostly covered for 1 1/2 hours. Strain through a fine mesh colander to get all the bits out. Return the broth to the pot and bring back to temp over medium heat.

– To assemble the soup: Cook the rice noodles according to the package – as a default method, cook the noodles in boiling water for 3-4 minutes until tender, drain and rinse with some cool water quickly to stop the cooking. Drain these thoroughly. Evenly distribute the noodles and cabbage between the serving bowls. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles. Top each bowl with some sprouts, basil, cilantro, a sprinkle of green onions and some lime. Serve immediately.


Lynn Feb 12, 2011 09:02 am

Thanks for creating a vegetarian pho recipe. I love pho – but many of my friends are vegan so we can’t enjoy a bowl together at one of the many pho shops in ATL. Now I can invite them over for a pho – what a treat.

Laura Feb 12, 2011 10:02 am

I’ve been looking for a good veggie version of pho. This looks fantastic! I’ll definitely spice mine up too though. ;)

Lee Feb 12, 2011 11:02 am

Do you happen to know if any restaurants in Atlanta have vegetarian pho?

Dayle Moses Feb 12, 2011 05:02 pm

i am a pho maniac and this looks absolutely delicious!

Jim Feb 12, 2011 10:02 pm

Try Pho 96 on Buford Hwy.

Angharad Feb 13, 2011 01:02 am

I absolutely love this! I adore eating pho out at hole-in-the-wall places but I’ve never tried to make my own. Your photo makes me want to immediately – gorgeous!
Oh and maybe a pizza photo styling/taking post? That would be swell.

Kulsum at JourneyKitchen Feb 13, 2011 02:02 am

I love pho and I think this will be perfect for meatless days sometime this week. I can almost reach my hand with a spoon on that picture and no I’m not exaggerating!

marla Feb 13, 2011 08:02 am

The cinnamon sticks in this broth must add so much to the flavor and stunning photo too. Great recipe Tami! I always look forward to your Saturday soup posts.

julianna Feb 13, 2011 10:02 am

if you’re going to use prawns, buy them shell-on and use the shells/heads to make a stock

diane Feb 13, 2011 06:02 pm

oh my, how lovely!
I was a vegetarian for almost 19 years and lived off vegetarian pho. Brings back such great memories. Time to maybe start another veggie pot.

Mairi @ Toast Feb 13, 2011 06:02 pm

Thanks Tami. It all just sounds so comforting and fragrant. Perfect for my pre European trip health kick before some serious over indulging!

EatLiveRun Feb 15, 2011 06:02 pm

I adore pho but for some reason, have never made my own. Love your recipe!

Kevin (Closet Cooking) Feb 15, 2011 09:02 pm

What a fresh and tasty looking pho!

Nicole Franzen Feb 16, 2011 11:02 am

yum, looks divine. I have been wanting to try a good pho but your right they are always full of meat. Since I am a pescatarian too this will be great for me to try.

DessertForTwo Feb 18, 2011 09:02 pm

I am so happy to have found this recipe! I’m such a pho fan but don’t want to drive all the way to the city for it! I can’t wait to make this!!!

Aggie Feb 18, 2011 10:02 pm

So much to say here… First off, I’m a veggi/pescatarian too, second…I’ve been craving pho but have never had it! I keep seeing beautiful pictures and recipes, but the always seem to have beef in them. I would love to try this with some shrimp and some heat. Sounds so delicious!! It looks like a bowl of warm goodness…

Kelsey, at Happyolks Feb 28, 2011 05:02 pm

Brings me back to Vietnam instantly! Delish!

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Violette the Bearess Mar 2, 2011 02:03 pm

Delicious! Thank you so much for the veggie version – I had to stay up way past my bedtime just to try this last night, yum!

Ruth Mar 8, 2011 02:03 pm

I’ve just discovered pho. This recipe looks delicious!

Brooke Adkins Mar 24, 2011 12:03 am

After going vegan I really missed pho { & bun bo hue} so I understand your pain . Your pho is making my mouth water!

When you go back to NYC, try Lan Cafe in the East Village; they are a vegetarian/vegan Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall. So delicious!

Aubrey Mar 31, 2011 11:03 am

This looks seriously divine. Lovely photo as well!

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Chje Nov 20, 2011 11:11 pm

I like Your topic so much. but It’s not Pho. It’s a kind of rice noodle. I’m from Vietnam and I eat Pho everyday. In Vietnamese, It can call “bún” or “mì”.
Thanks for your beautiful image and delicious dish!

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diandra Jan 2, 2012 10:01 pm

whoaaa! i just made this for the family and we’ve gulped it up. thank you for giving a vegan recipe for pho! we added chopped tofu to the top. and lots of chili oil. yum.

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Johanna Feb 7, 2012 03:02 pm

I’m making this right now, and my place smells so good. I know it will be lovely when it’s done.

Johanna Feb 7, 2012 05:02 pm

It’s done and delicious. Picture on FB.

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Ashley Feb 16, 2012 09:02 pm

This was super delicious. I am surprised how nice and spicy the ginger made the broth. I left out the spices, I have some weird aversion to anise. But I threw in some baby bok choy and the whole thing was just fabulous. Thank you SO much!

Trish Apr 9, 2012 10:04 pm

Love this. Wow, I like the use of cinnamon. I see this is one of your older recipes but glad I fell into it on pinterest. Just re-pinned it. Thanks for sharing.

Yvonne Bent May 17, 2012 10:05 am

I love Pho. I will especially love this one. Thank you for doing this.

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Veronica Sheppard Sep 23, 2012 07:09 pm

Amazing photograph, so appetizing (especially when I have a cold, soup save me). I want to try this very soon! Finding vegetarian pho in restaurants is next to impossible

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