Vegan pho is a quick and easy way to enjoy a big bowl of delicious, steamy Vietnamese soup. Packed full of veggies and loaded with flavour, this 30-minute pho recipe will warm you up from the inside out.
What is Pho?
Pho is a Vietnamese soup, typically with a base of beef bone broth. Traditionally, beef bones simmer for several hours when preparing to make pho, and the broth is filled with flavours from cinnamon, cloves, and star anise, plus garlic, ginger and spicy chiles.
The delicious thing about pho is that, while the bone broth cooks forever, the soup ingredients are subject to minimal cooking. When serving pho, you pour the hot, bubbling broth over the ingredients, so the "cooking" actually happens in the individual bowls of soup via the hot broth. The hot broth cooks the ingredients a little in the bowl, but they still retain their freshness.
Now, obviously, a vegan pho is not exactly authentic -- but it’s delicious, all the same. Rice noodles are almost always included in a bowl of pho, but there are endless other options for ingredients in this delicious vegan pho soup.
How to Pronounce "Pho"
People often mispronounce the name of this delicious soup when they read it on a recipe or a menu in a restaurant. It seems natural for us who speak English to pronounce is as "FOH" (like foe); however, the correct pronunciation is "FUH" (like fun). Try saying it that way the next time you order this soup in a Vietnamese restaurant, and you will be rewarded with a knowing smile!
How to Eat Your Vegan Pho
In Vietnam, pho is actually breakfast food. People buy their bowls of pho in the morning on the way to work and school, and eat them from street stalls. You should always use chopsticks when eating this soup, at least until all the noodles and other ingredients are finished. Oh, and you need to lean right over the bowl to avoid splattering everywhere! When all that's left is the broth, you can put down your chopsticks, pick up the bowl and drink the broth to polish it off.
Here's What You Need to Make this Recipe
- Mushrooms: I used dried mushrooms because the flavourful soaking water is a delicious addition to the pho broth. If you prefer to use fresh, use 6 ounces of fresh mushrooms and add them into the broth with the bok choy, along with two additional cups of vegetable stock.
- Soy Sauce: Use tamari, or gluten-free soy sauce, to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Star Anise: I know star anise can sometimes be hard to find. If you can't find it, use 2 teaspoons of Chinese Five Spice powder instead.
- Rice Noodles: It's important to drain and rinse your rice noodles under cold water.
- Tofu: I used firm tofu and cut it into cubes. If you're not trying to make this recipe vegan, you can substitute it with your favourite protein.
- Veggies: This vegan pho is filled with baby bok choy, mung bean sprouts, lime wedges, and both the white and green parts of scallions.
- Liquids: You will need no-sodium vegetable stock and sriracha, sambal, or another type of hot sauce.
- Herbs & Spices: I used garlic cloves, ginger, a cinnamon stick, cloves, and basil (you can use cilantro instead).
How to Make Vegan Pho, Step By Step
Step 1: Begin Broth
First, combine vegetable stock, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves in a large pot. Bring your broth to a boil over medium heat, cover, reduce heat, and then let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
Step 2: Prep Mushrooms
While the broth is simmering, rinse your dried mushrooms and soak them in two cups warm water for 15 minutes or until tender. You can also use this time to cook the rice noodles if you didn't do it before!
Step 3: Add Bok Choy
Next, add the baby bok choy to the simmering broth, and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Divide Servings
First, divide your cooked rice noodles and tofu cubes into 4 soup bowls. Next, remove the bok choy from the broth and divide among the bowls.
Step 5: Add Mushrooms to Broth
Stir the mushrooms (and the water they were soaking in) into the broth and bring it back to the boil. At this point, stir the soy sauce into the broth, as well.
Step 5: Garnish & Serve Vegan Pho
Turn off the heat and using a ladle, top the soup bowls with the broth and mushrooms. Top off each bowl with scallions, and bean sprouts, then serve with basil or cilantro, hot sauce, and lime wedges.
PRO TIP: Although this vegan pho is pretty much a meal by itself, you can serve with garnishes such as hot sauce, lime wedges, peanuts, or cashews.
What is Umami?
Umani is a taste group, along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. In Japanese, umami means “pleasant savory taste.” Foods that have the amino acid "glutamate," like this vegan pho, are high in umami flavour. Besides the mushrooms and tofu mentioned above, aged cheeses, tomatoes, fish sauce, soy sauce, and ketchup are umami flavours. Umani is a “meaty” taste, so meats and seafood are typically high in umami. Learn more about the “fifth flavour” here: What is Umami?
Why Vegan Pho?
Pho just lends itself to an amazing vegan soup -- I just HAD to make a vegan version. I used reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms in this soup, along with some diced tofu, and I loved the umami flavour that they created together. There is definitely a “meatiness” with some ingredients, and these are up there with the best.
Want more vegan soup recipes? Try Creamy Asparagus Soup, Moroccan Sweet Potato Soup with Chickpeas, my Mushroom Barley Soup or my Roasted Tomato Basil Soup.
Vegan Pho Recipe
- 6 cups vegetable stock no sodium
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger peeled and sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 star anise
- 3 whole cloves
- 0.5 oz dried shiitake mushrooms 1 package
- 8 oz wide rice noodles cooked, drained and rinsed under cold water
- 2 baby bok choy sliced in half, lengthwise
- 4 oz firm tofu cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 cup mung bean sprouts
- 1 bunch scallions green and white parts, sliced
- basil or cilantro
- lime wedges
- sriracha, sambal, or other hot sauce
- In a large pot, combine vegetable stock, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- While broth is simmering, rinse dried mushrooms, then soak them in two cups warm water for 15 minutes or until tender. You can also use this time to cook the rice noodles if not already done.
- Add the bok choy to the simmering broth for 5 minutes
- Into 4 soup bowls, divide the cooked rice noodles and top with tofu cubes
- Remove bok choy from the broth and divide among the bowls
- Strain the mushroom soaking water and add to the broth, along with the mushrooms, bringing back to the boil.
- Stir soy sauce into the broth, turn off the heat, and using a ladle, top the soup bowls with the broth & mushrooms
- Top off each bowl with scallions, and bean sprouts
- serve with basil or cilantro, hot sauce, and lime wedges.
Delicious! My whole family loved it! Made it using very thin rice vermicelli and shrimp instead of tofu. Sooo good!
Hi Carol. I'm so happy to hear that your family loved this vegan pho! Thank you for sharing your tweaks and for coming back to comment.
Absolutely fabulous recipe! I made this with tofu, lots of fresh cilantro vs. basil, powdered
ground star anise, liquid aminos in place of soy or tamari, and all else same as recipe with
the exception of bean sprouts - which I did not have. I did add a couple more bok chow as
mine were smaller sized. It was amazing. I will definitely be making this again and have
joined this blog for more delicious recipes now!
Hi Pam, I'm so happy that you love this vegan pho as much as I do! I very much appreciate your feedback and sharing your tweaks. Welcome aboard and I hope you find lots more recipes to love!
Love this recipe. The shitake mushrooms definitely make this soup rich and complex despite being vegan. Yum!
Hi Kara, I'm so glad you love it! Mushrooms do have a way of adding a richness and complexity to a dish, don't they?
This pho looks so flavoursome and perfect for days when you arent feeling well. It looks so warm and comforting! I love how you mixed a bunch of vegetables to give a wonderful taste. Thank you for sharing this recipe, will definitely try this out.
Hi Ramona, this pho is great for any day! Enjoy!
This recipe for Pho is delicious! I love the spices in this dish, so comforting!
Hi Marieke! I'm so happy that you loved this Pho. I agree, the spices here are so comforting. I appreciate your feedback too. Cheers!
This is my fave soup in the entire world and I've never made it myself. Thanks for the recipe!
Terri, you will love this! Make it soon.
Katherine | Love In My Oven
When I'm sick all I want is pho!! This nourishing bowl would be good any time, though! I would love to try making my own pho!
Hi Katherine, Pho is for sure, the super nourishing bowl that we need when we are under the weather. But I love it every day. Hope you give it a try!
What an absolutely gorgeous-looking dish! I love the mushrooms you have in here! Pho is a great combination of quick preparation and the amazing health benefits of long-simmered broth!
Thank you so much, Cathy. So true, Pho is a bowl of healthy delicious!
This sounds so flavorful and delicious - perfect for these cold days!
One of my favourite comfort foods! And you've made it so easy to make. Looking forward to trying your recipe!
Mine too, Jessica! You'll love this version!
I have been obsessed with pho lately, and this is my absolute favorite recipe! It's so flavorful and delicious, and I make it all the time!
Jessica, I am thrilled that this is your favorite! Thanks for letting me know, and keep enjoying.
This sounds like perfection. I am loving the flavors of pho here, and interested to try this vegan version!
I hope you do give it a try, Danielle!
Love this recipe - so tasty and so much better than anything I've ever ordered at a restaurant! Will definitely be making this again xx
I'm so happy that you love it, Bry. It's so easy & delicious.
I have never tried pho earlier. So colorful and flavorful !
I'm so glad you finally tried Pho, Kushigalu!
A Bowl full of flavors and a delicious meal option too.
Hi Veena, this is a meal in a bowl, for sure.