Vegan Vietnamese Pho

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I never used to like pho when I was younger. For those of you who don’t really know what pho (pronounced fuh, not foe) is, it is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup dish, often served with rare meat slices that cooks in a hot broth made of pork or chicken bones and various spices.

Now, I love Vietnamese food, but I always found it annoying to eat soup, because it took too much work and it would cause a big splash (yes, I was weird). I’ve since changed my thinking, and love a good pho soup, especially on those cold days. It may be spring now, but you can still enjoy it even if it isn’t winter anymore! Plus, I know that there’s still snow in eastern Canada (ha!).

Pho is typically more of a meat-based soup, so I decided to try to make a vegetarian/vegan version of it. This recipe turned out great, and it was really delicious! The flavours turned out to be pretty much spot on, and the broth was lighter since it was made with a vegetable broth. You can definitely use a chicken broth for other non-vegetarians (I plan to try next time)!

Ingredients
Makes 6-7 servings

  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 carrots
  • 5 celery stalks
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and halved
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, halved lengthwise
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (can use fish sauce for non-vegans)
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 package of rice noodles (banh pho)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 package of tofu puffs or fried/baked tofu, sliced (or other protein)
  • 1 package of shiitake mushrooms
  • finely sliced onions
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 green or thai chillies, finely sliced (optional)
  • bean sprouts
  • bunch of thai basil
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges

———

Slice the shiitake mushrooms, chopping the stems off and reserving for stock.

Place the large onion and ginger on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place in oven to broil for 3-4 minutes until charred. Let cool and peel off the outer charred layers of the onion and burnt edges of the ginger.

To a large pot, add the vegetable broth, water, carrots, celery, shiitake mushroom stems, onions, and ginger and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a continuous simmer for about 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, in a small dry pan on medium heat, add the cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, star anise, and cloves. Stir continuously to roast spices until fragrant (~5 minutes). Add to the stock along with the sugar and soy sauce. Cover and continue to let simmer for another 90 minutes. Strain and keep hot until ready to serve.

Meanwhile prepare the rice noodles as instructed on the package. Once cooked, serve into individual bowls. Add in the tofu (or other protein), mushrooms, finely sliced onions, and bean sprouts. Ladle the broth over top, and garnish with chilli, cilantro leaves, and thai basil. Serve with lime wedges, and top it with some sriracha and hoisin if you like as well! Enjoy 🙂

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