Pho is one of my absolute favourite soups, but it is so phoking hard to find vegetarian versions in restaurants. This is mainly because traditional pho is made with beef broth and topped with more meat. Luckily, pho also includes a number of spices and herbs (Like much of Vietnamese cuisine) that contribute to its mouth watering aroma and distinct flavour.
My version uses a rich mushroom broth and is accompanied with classic pho rice noodles for slurping, topped with delicious sautéed tofu and mushrooms. This is total comfort food.
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Recipe makes 3-4 servings
- 10 cups of mushroom vegetable broth (Substitute: bouillon vegetable broth or instant shiitake dashi)
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters (plus extra for garnish, if desired)
- 2″ piece of ginger, halved
- 2 star anise pods
- 1 black cardamom pod
- 6 clove buds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/4″ wide rice noodles (Or any other banh pho/ flat rice noodles)
- 1 package of firm tofu (approx. 350 g) sliced into thin rectangular pieces
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp mirin
- 2 cups of bean sprouts
- 2 thinly sliced green onions
- 1 lime cut into quarter wedges
- 1 thinly sliced jalapeno or Thai chillies
- 1 cup of fresh herb leaves (coriander, culantro, Thai basil, mint)
- Hoisin sauce
- Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Place 3/4 of chopped onion, and ginger pieces on a baking sheet. Place on the top oven rack and cook until charred (approx. 30 minutes).
- Place noodles in a bowl with room temperature water, and leave to soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Pour the broth into a large pot. Toss in the star anise, cardamom, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick and cloves. Simmer on low heat.
- Once the onions and ginger have a burnt char on them, toss them into the broth, and simmer for another 30 minutes on medium-low heat.
- In a saute pan, add olive oil and bring to high heat. Add tofu, shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce and mirin. Saute until soy and mirin have reduced (approx. 5 minutes).
- Thinly slice spare piece of yellow onion and prepare with other garnishes.
- Bring a separate pot of water to a boil, and toss in the rice noodles. Cook for 1 minute.
- Strain noodle and pho broth and divide evenly into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with shiitake, tofu, green onions, yellow onion, bean sprouts, chilies, herbs and lime wedge. (For a clear broth, I strain through a coffee filter, cheesecloth is also works well)
- Enjoy with Sriracha and hoisin sauce 🙂