Vegetarian Pho (1)
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  • Food: Vegetarian Pho
  • Writer: Nicolas Wilson
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

This straightforward vegan version of the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup is called pho. Instead of using meat, it uses spices and mushrooms to create a rich flavor.

For a very long time, I’ve had a vegan pho recipe on my “to make someday” list. I got the concept from a Vietnamese eatery that is close to our home.

Their mushroom pho features a flavorful soup with a lot of slurpable noodles. Although it is warm, savory, and soothing, it still has a beautiful, fresh feel to it.

I have finally created my vegetarian pho recipe to share with you all after devouring bowls upon bowls of their delectable soup.

What is Pho?

Vegetarian Pho Yum (1)
Food: Vegetarian Pho (Source: Cookie and Kate)

If you’ve never had pho (pronounced “fuh”), it’s a Vietnamese noodle soup made with rice noodles and a flavorful, creamy broth.

Sliced beef is also added to the soup, which is traditionally served with a broth made from whole spices, beef bones, and fish sauce. It frequently comes with toppings like hoisin sauce, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend trying vegetarian or not, authentic pho at a Vietnamese restaurant, but I also hope you’ll appreciate my wholly unauthentic rendition.

There is no meat in this dish because it is vegan. Instead, homemade Crackerspices, flavorful vegetables, and umami shiitake mushrooms give the soup its flavor.

Even if it’s not an identical clone of the pho from across the street, it’s still great.

Ingredients for a vegetarian pho recipe

For this simple vegetarian pho recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Whole spices – I use fewer spices than in a conventional pho broth, but they still give the dish a lot of flavors. You’ll need gloves, whole peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and star anise.
  • The traditional pho ingredients of onion, ginger, and garlic combine with the spices to give the broth its distinctive aroma and flavor.
  • Water — I prefer to use water to prepare my pho broth rather than veggie stock. The flavor of the spices will come through in this way. The broth won’t be tasteless at all, so don’t worry. It has a lot of flavor because of the spices, onion, ginger, garlic, and mushrooms.
  • Shiitake mushrooms: These add a deep umami flavor and a lovely meaty texture to the soup.
  • To make this meal vegetarian, I substitute tamari, or soy sauce, for the traditional fish sauce. Use wheat-free tamari if you also need it to be gluten-free.
  • Rice vinegar: It imparts a fresh, tangy flavor to the soup.
  • The soup seems light and fresh thanks to the addition of edamame, baby bok choy, and scallions.
  • To ensure that the rice noodles have their beautiful al dente bite, I ladle the boiling liquid over them rather than adding them to the soup.

The soup’s foundation is composed of these elements. When you’re ready to eat, you’ll add garnishes to it to enhance and balance its flavor, like lime, bean sprouts, chilies, and sriracha.

Tips for Making Vegetarian Pho

  • Don’t forget to add garnishes. In a Vietnamese restaurant, fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime, chilies, and/or sauces are always included on the side when you order pho. Despite being served as garnishes, these toppings are crucial to the flavor of the soup. To add a deep depth of flavor, stir them into the heated broth. This, in my opinion, is the best aspect of eating pho. You can season it any way you like!
  • Personalize it! Although I adore this vegetarian pho dish exactly as written, feel free to make whatever changes you like. With a heartier soup, add baked or fried tofu, or swap out the bok choy for spinach or shredded Napa cabbage. Use cremini or oyster mushrooms in their place if you can’t find shiitakes. Noodles can be skipped or swapped out with zucchini noodles for a lighter option.
  • Ahead of time. If you want leftovers, double this vegan pho recipe, which feeds two people. I advise keeping the broth apart from the vegetables and noodles. If not, the noodles will absorb the chilled broth. Even though I’m reheating the soup, I like to prepare fresh bok choy as well. It keeps its vivid green color in this way.

Vegetarian Pho

Prepare time: 10 minutes

Cooking period: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

If you’d want to make more than two servings of this pho, double the recipe!


  • 2-star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 5 cups water
  • ½ small yellow onion, cut into 1” chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced in half
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved
  • ¼ cup tamari, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, more to taste
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 baby bok choy, sliced lengthwise into quarters
  • ½ cup frozen edamame
  • 4 ounces cooked rice noodles

For serving:

  • Lime slices
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Fresh herbs: basil, mint, and/or cilantro
  • Sriracha, sliced Thai chiles, or sliced jalapeños


Vegetarian Pho Easy (1)
Food: Vegetarian Pho (Source: Cookie and Kate)
  1. The star anise, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and cloves should be combined in a medium pot over low heat and stirred until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. The shiitake mushroom stems, water, onion, garlic, and ginger should all be added. 20 minutes of simmering is followed by straining and adding the liquid back to the saucepan.
  3. Along with the tamari, rice vinegar, and scallions, slice the shiitake mushroom caps and put them in the pan. 15 minutes at a simmer
  4. Cook the bok choy and edamame for 5-8 minutes, or until they are fork-tender. As needed, taste and adjust seasoning by adding additional rice vinegar for tang and more tamari for depth of flavor.
  5. Place the cooked rice noodles on top of two bowls of soup. Slices of lime, sprouts, herbs, sriracha, chile peppers and additional tamari should be served on the side.