This Vegan Pho (Phở Chay) or 越南河粉汤 (Yuènán hé fěn tāng) recipe is comforting and uses both fruits and vegetables in the broth. It is packed with wonderful aromatics from the herbs and spices used. Although Pho is traditionally not vegan, it’s definitely possible to make it without meat while retaining the flavorful broth.
I’m a big fan of soups; light, creamy or herbal soup which is why I love Pho. My first Pho experience or of most Vietnamese dishes was when I first came to the States. While I have not tried traditional Pho before, I really love the vegan one that I’ve had at a restaurant near me. So, I was overjoyed when my good friend said he could show me how to make it from scratch.
When it comes to Pho, the most important component of the dish is in the broth. It involves a low simmer to allow the ingredients to slowly flavor. To be honest, Pho’s broth does take time to make but it’s totally worth it. It’s made with a variety of vegetables and fruits and toasted spices that gives the soup an amazing and complex flavor.
What are Vegan Pho (Phở Chay) Key Components?
- Broth – Use a variety of root vegetables and fruits to give the broth a savory and sweet taste. There are also lots of spices used such as Cassia Bark, Star Anise, cloves, etc.
- Noodles – If you have had Vietnamese food before, there are a variety of rice noodles that go with different types of soup. For Pho, the noodle used is the flat version of the rice stick.
- Herbs and Veggies pairings – Similar to the noodles used, herbs and veggies pairing differ for the type of soup as well. For Pho, the common ones are mung bean sprouts, cilantro, culantro (Ngò Gai or Sawtooth herb), Thai basil, thinly sliced onion, mint, and green onions.
What you need to make Vegan Pho (Phở Chay) broth
Here is a list of ingredients you that you can refer to if you need to make the broth from scratch.
- Vegetables: Daikon radish or Jicama (or both), Leek, Carrots
- Must have: Ginger, White or Yellow onion (or green onions, but you’ll have to use a bunch or two)
- Fruits, pick 1: Asian pear or apple (preferably sweet ones)
- Mushrooms and Umami Seasoning – Mushrooms are a great addition to create the umami-packed broth. To top that, I used an umami seasoning that’s made from leek. You can also use mushroom seasoning if you prefer.
- Rock sugar – skip and add more Daikon radish or jicama
- Spices (or use store-bought pre-packed Pho spice)
- 1 or 2 Cassia Bark/Cinnamon Stick and black cardamom
- 4 to 5 Star Anise
- 1 teaspoon of each: cloves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, white peppercorn
Tips to make a delicious Vegan Pho (Phở Chay)
- Toast your vegetables – it’s a crucial step to have that robust taste but you’ll only toast ginger, daikon radish, and onion. If you are using green onion tops, you can toast that as well.
- Use a variety of vegetables – I love to use jicama and daikon radish to prepare my soup broth. These two amazing vegetables give the soup a wonderful sweet taste. Add some fruits to create a more flavorful as well.
How to make Vegan Pho (Phở Chay)
Pho broth is the most time-consuming part, but the other steps are pretty straight forward and take less time than you may think.
First, you’ll toast the spices until aromatic over low heat (loose spices or store-bought pre-made spices). Then, transfer them to a spice bag and set aside.
Using the same pan, toast the Daikon-Radish, ginger, and onion until they look char on both sides.
Fill a 5-quart pot with 12 cups of water, add in all the broth ingredients, and bring it to a rolling boil. Then, turn heat to medium and let it simmer for about an hour. You can use an Instant Pot to reduce the cooking time in this step. Once the soup is done, season with mushrooms powder or umami seasoning.
I’m using tofu as the toppings that I simply sautéed until golden brown and seasoned with some salt.
Prepare the noodles as directed. There are a variety of Pho noodles at the store and today I’m using the vacuum-packed fresh noodles. This only takes about 5 minutes to cook.
To serve, place noodles in a bowl, and ladle the hot soup over. Garnish with toppings of choice and don’t forget the lime. The sauces that normally go with it include Hoisin sauce and Sriracha. If you know me, my pick would be Sriracha. Enjoy!
Check out my other noodles recipes
This Vegan Pho (Phở Chay) is
- SOOO Cozy
- Delicious and Comforting
- Gluten-free and oil-free if you air-fried the tofu
- Easily customizable
- Packed with amazing aromatics, you’ll want to make a bowl today!
If you try this Vegan Pho, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful creation. Please leave me a comment or rate this recipe. Send me a picture to @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Vegan Pho (Phở Chay) 越南河粉汤
- Nut milk bag or spice bag
- 1 daikon radish cut into round cubes
- 1 large onion cut into wedges
- 4 slices of ginger
- 1 apple cleaned and core removed
- 1 ear of corn
- 3 carrots cut into small chunks
- 1 leek cut into large chunks
- ½ medium-sized jicama diced
- 5 dried shiitake mushrooms softened and stems removed
- 12 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon rock sugar
- umami seasoning of choice
- salt to taste
Spices or use store-bought mix
- 1 cinnamon stick used Cassia bark
- 1 black cardamom
- 4 star anise
- 1 teaspoon clove
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorn
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
Toppings and Garnishes
- 7 oz tofu cubes pan-fried and seasoned with salt
- 2 cups Mung bean sprouts
- Jalapeño slices
- Lime wedges
- a handful of: Thai basil, Culantro, Mint, thinly sliced onion, cilantro, green onion
Make the Pho broth
- In a heated non-stick pan, toast or char spices until aromatic. Transfer the toasted spices into a spice bag and set aside.
- Then, toast daikon, onion, and ginger until they look char on both sides.
- Fill a 5-quart pot with 12 cups of water. Place all the soup ingredients and spices in the pot and cover it with a lid.
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then lower the heat and simmer for an hour. You may use Instant Pot to reduce the cooking time.
- Once it's ready, strain the mixture and season to taste. I used umami seasoning that's made from leek or you can use mushrooms seasoning.
How to serve
- Prepare your favorite toppings. I used pan-fried tofu cubes that were seasoned with salt.
- To put everything together, cook noodles as directed. Place noodles in a bowl and ladle the hot soup over.
- Top with herbs and veggies of choice and don't forget the lime juice. Serve warm and enjoy!