Easy Vegetarian Pho

This vegan pho recipe is a simple take on the classic Vietnamese noodle soup. It gets its rich flavor from spices and mushrooms instead of meat.

Vegan Pho

A vegan pho recipe has been on my “to make some day” list for a long time. I got the idea from a Vietnamese restaurant just a short walk away from our house. Their mushroom pho is has a richly spiced broth and loads of slurpy noodles. It’s hot, flavorful, and comforting, but it still feels nice and fresh. After enjoying bowls upon bowls of their delicious soup, I’ve finally made my own vegetarian pho recipe to share with all of you.

What is Pho?

If you’re not familiar with pho (pronounced “fuh”), it’s a Vietnamese noodle soup that features a rich, aromatic broth and rice noodles. Traditionally, the broth is made with whole spices, beef bones, and fish sauce, and sliced beef is also added to the soup. Often, it’s served with garnishes like fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and hoisin sauce.

If you get the chance, I urge you to try authentic pho (vegetarian or otherwise) at a Vietnamese restaurant, but I also hope you’ll enjoy this completely inauthentic take on it. Because this is a vegan recipe, you won’t find any meat here. Instead, the broth gets its flavor from spices, aromatic veggies, and umami shiitake mushrooms. It may not be an exact replica of the pho from down the street, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

Pho recipe ingredients

Vegetarian Pho Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy vegetarian pho recipe:

  • Whole spices – I use a shorter list of spices than you’d find in a traditional pho broth, but they still pack it with flavor. You’ll need star anise, cinnamon sticks, whole peppercorns, and cloves.
  • Onion, ginger, and garlic – These traditional pho ingredients work with the spices to make the broth aromatic and flavorful.
  • Water – I prefer to make my pho broth with water instead of vegetable stock. That way, the flavor of the spices really shines through. Don’t worry – the broth won’t be bland at all. The spices, onion, ginger, garlic, and mushrooms give it plenty of flavor.
  • Shiitake mushrooms – They give this soup delicious meaty texture and rich umami flavor.
  • Tamari or soy sauce – I use it instead of the traditional fish sauce to make this recipe vegetarian. If you also need it to be gluten-free, make sure to use wheat-free tamari.
  • Rice vinegar – It gives the broth a bright, tangy finish.
  • Scallions, baby bok choy, and edamame – These vibrant ingredients make the soup feel light and fresh.
  • Rice noodles – I ladle the hot broth over the noodles instead of adding them to the soup so that they retain a nice al dente bite.

These ingredients make up the base of the soup. When you’re ready to eat, you’ll finish it with garnishes like fresh herbs, lime, bean sprouts, chiles, and sriracha to enrich and balance its flavor.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Easy Vegetarian Pho Recipe

Vegan Pho Recipe Tips

  • Don’t skip the garnishes. When you order pho at a Vietnamese restaurant, it will always come with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime, chiles, and/or sauces on the side. Though they’re presented as garnishes, these fixings are an essential part of seasoning the soup. Stir them into the hot broth for rich depth of flavor. If you ask me, this is the best part of eating pho. You can season it just how you like it!
  • Customize it! I love this vegetarian pho recipe as written, but feel free to customize it to your liking. Add baked or fried tofu for a heartier soup or replace the bok choy with spinach or shredded Napa cabbage. If you can’t find shiitake mushrooms, use cremini or oyster mushrooms in their place. For a lighter option, omit the noodles, or replace them with zucchini noodles.
  • Make it ahead. This vegan pho recipe serves two, but if you want to have leftovers, double it. I recommend storing the broth separately from the noodles and vegetables. Otherwise, the noodles will absorb the broth in the fridge. I also like to cook fresh bok choy even if I’m reheating the broth. That way, it retains its vibrant green color.

More Favorite Asian-Inspired Recipes

If you love this vegan pho recipe, try one of these Asian-inspired recipes next:

Then, find more of my favorite soup recipes here!

4.9 from 22 reviews

Easy Vegetarian Pho

 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This pho recipe serves 2, so double if you'd like to make a larger batch!
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot over low heat, combine the star anise, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and cloves and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the water, onion, garlic, ginger, and the stems of the shiitake mushrooms. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and return the liquid back to the pot.
  3. Slice the shiitake mushroom caps and add them to the pot along with the tamari, rice vinegar, and scallions. Simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Add the bok choy and edamame and cook until tender, 5-8 minutes. Taste and season with more tamari for depth of flavor, and more rice vinegar for tang, as desired.
  5. Ladle the soup into 2 bowls over the cooked rice noodles. Serve with the lime slices, sprouts, herbs, sriracha, chili peppers, and more tamari on the side.

Special thanks to Anthropologie for providing the tableware items in this post!

100 comments

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Katrina from warmvanillasugar.com
    02.22.2016

    I never knew making pho could be so easy! I can’t wait to try this!

  2. Haha “faux pho”!! Wouldn’t have that made for an interesting title 😉 Either way, this pho looks delicious!

  3. This looks so good, and totally doable! I love that it’s not so complicated.

  4. Alexis
    02.22.2016

    Yum! I can’t wait to try this. I fell in love with Vietnamese food in Vietnam a year ago and have since declared it my absolute favorite. Seriously…a trip to Vietnam is worth it for the food alone! Pho is a long and tedious dish to make at home so I’d love to try this version. It might not be exactly the same but I’m sure it will be delish!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.22.2016

      It’s on our travel bucket list – hopefully one day soon!

  5. Bethan
    02.22.2016

    This looks absolutely delicious. *heart eye emoji*
    Just read through the instructions – can I double check that the onion, ginger, garlic, and shiitake stems are to be discarded when the liquid is re-added (presumably because it’s infused and doesn’t need intensifying further)? Thank you, and thank you for such a lovely recipe!
    P.S. Caught your cookbook advert (v. clever placement!!) out the corner of my eye and cannot wait to get my hands on it when it’s released!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.22.2016

      Hi Bethan,

      Yes, exactly – those flavors just get infused into the broth.

      Ha, thanks – hope you like the book!

  6. Danielle
    02.22.2016

    Recipe looks great! Also love those bowls!!! Where can I find those???

  7. I’m for sure going to try the recipe. And like Dainielle, I love the bowls and want to know where to get them 🙂

  8. Fox Kitchen
    02.23.2016

    I laughed at the “faux pho” part 🙂 Looks absolutely delicious!

  9. My mouth is watering! No Vietnamese restaurants around here, so I’ll have to make it myself. And you have exactly my sentiments when it comes to recipes–read a bunch, then say, how can I make this simpler? I’ll try this tonight!

  10. I love it’s faux-ness 😉 it makes it seem that much more approachable to make, and sounds/looks authentic to me! I love making my favorite restaurant dishes at home, its always so rewarding and inspiring to conquer. Way to go 😉 and those bowls – the cutest.

  11. amy from amyreger.com
    02.24.2016

    Pheels like a Pho-kinda day in Rochester, NY.

  12. Carrie from carrieshomecooking.com
    02.24.2016

    Thank you so much for sharing! My father has decided that he is going to take a vegetarian approach to his diet (in hopes it will help him since he has Hepatitis C). As a result, he has turned to me for help in finding things he will enjoy. Thank you for giving me a go-to recipe that even my dad can handle!

  13. All the color and vibrancy alone has me falling for this LOVELY bowl of faux pho. <- HA btw.
    Definitely like your shortcut version and cant wait to try!!!

  14. Ruth
    02.24.2016

    I love the blue and white bowls as well as the recipe, can you please share information about them? I’d love to find some for myself.

  15. This looks absolutely amazing! I feel like I haven’t been able to get on the Asian soup/noodle bowl bandwagon due to the fact that nearly every kind I have seen in restaurants is made with some kind of pork – definitely going to be giving this recipe a try.

    PS – I actually did a post this week about how much I love your blog and how you have completely inspired me to take my vegetarian cooking to the next level. Thank you for creating such healthy, delicious, and easy recipes…I appreciate it so much and I think my fiance does even more 🙂 The post is here if you’re interested… http://dreamsinhd.blogspot.com/2016/02/my-favorite-food-blog.html

  16. Awesome recipe luks simply delicious will try soon I m big fan of urs I hv tried many of your recipes and came out really well. thanks.

  17. AAR
    02.29.2016

    Hi! This Pho soup looks delicious. I’ll be happy if you posted a recipe for thai coconut soup recipe. I’m long time looking for a good one and cannot find. Thanks.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2016

      ok thank you – I’ll be sure to post one soon!

  18. I first want to start off by saying I love your photographs fresh, clean, vibrant. The bowls are beautiful and yes pho, gotta love this food. Fresh, lite, healthy, that oh so fulfilled feeling after eating it, without that heavy overfilled feeling. Actually I didn’t make pho last night, but an udon with sey choy and oyster mushrooms, grated ginger, and lemon grass. It was so good . I have never been to Austin but it sounds amazing, my wife and I will have to put it on our list, and also sounds like there are many great places to eat. It is great living in the heart of these locations with so much culture. Great blog

  19. Erin from vegansfirst.com
    03.15.2016

    I love this recipe….have been enjoying a lot of soup daily and I was hunting for a good Pho recipe. Found this on pinterest and came straight over and so glad I did. Cant wait to try this. Thanks.

    • Bena
      10.30.2017

      Like the recipe, I use vege broth instead, and if you are not vegan I add a porched or boiled egg as a granish.

  20. Mnsoni
    04.18.2016

    Tried this recipe tonight, the broth came out really well! Adjusted spice levels as needed and used crispy tofu along with other extra veggies! Loved it and will definitely make it again!

    • Elaine
      12.13.2017

      Thank you. The first person to actually have made the soup! I don’t mind a few “can’t wait to try this recipe” but it’s not useful AT ALL to those who want to hear from people who have actually made it. Just sayin…

      • I agree! I read the comments to see if the recipe is good and what people learned to change/modify.

    • JJ
      12.06.2019

      Thank you! Finally someone who actually tried it instead of aaaaaalll the people giving a star review only to say they think it will be delicious. I hate that! Such a waste of everyone’s time.

  21. Your photos are wonderful! I’ve never tried vietnamese food but this is getting saved!

  22. Ruby from recipesonboard.com
    07.10.2016

    I had never tasted pho*. This is going to be my first time and hope it tastes good. Images of the recipe are so tempting that I can’t resist myself from trying it.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  23. Donna
    08.12.2016

    This is so good!!! We had vegetable pho at a vietnamese restaurant yesterday and it wasn’t nearly as good as this. Thank you, for sharing.

  24. Aliza R.
    08.16.2016

    I made this tonight – with sliced tempeh as my protein. It was a hit! So good!

  25. Nicole from nicolemadsenphotography.wordpress.com
    09.13.2016

    I’m making this now and the broth smells amazing! I through in a chili sliced in half into it. Thank you for posting!!!

  26. Enid
    11.21.2016

    Oh my goodness I just made this and it is sooo amazingly yummy! I used tofu instead of edamame and added cilantro with the basil, lime and sprouts. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this yummy recipe now I never have to go out for pho again!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.12.2016

      Hi Enid – so glad you liked it! (sorry for my super slow reply!)

  27. Andrea Farmer
    11.28.2016

    This looks amazing! I am adding it to my recipe list!

  28. Danyelle
    12.11.2016

    This was so good!! I used the blend of mulling spices they have pre-mixed at Natural Grocers rather than buy the individual spices. I also added some sliced fresh jalapeño as a toping at the end to give it a spicy kick. This recipe is going into a regular rotation. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.12.2016

      HI Danyelle, I’m so glad this one made it to your rotation! 🙂

  29. I just made this and it will become a regular in my repertoire. My kids LOVED it. I added jalepenos, cilantro and fried tofu as add-ins. I can’t believe how easy it was and how delicious it is!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.14.2016

      Yay, I’m slo glad your family loved it!

  30. Caitlin F
    12.31.2016

    Hi! Thanks for sharing this recipe! Pho is one of my favorite foods and I am excited to try making it myself. I’m in Austin too, and go to Elizabeth Street way too often- it’s so good!! If you don’t mind, where do you get your Thai coconut soup? Thanks and happy new year!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.31.2016

      Hi Caitlin, I like the coconut soup at Thai Fresh 🙂

  31. Monica
    01.01.2017

    OMG made this!! It was so yummy.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.01.2017

      yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  32. Cory
    01.13.2017

    Just made this! It was delicious! I added a bit of vegetable broth and water, next time I’ll use less tamari. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.18.2017

      hi Cory, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  33. Rachel
    01.18.2017

    Hi Jeanine! If I leftover soba noodles would this work in the soup instead of rice noodles? I do not cook these flavors a lot and was curious. Excited to try this recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.18.2017

      Yep – just cook the soba separately. I also like to rinse soba noodles after cooking them, it helps them become less gummy. Then add them to the finished soup. I hope you enjoy!

  34. Caryn from veggiecampus.com
    01.30.2017

    Hello! Making this tonight – very excited. I don’t see edamame in the cooking instructions, just the ingredients. When did you add this? At the end

    Thank you!
    Caryn

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.30.2017

      oops! Yes at the end, just to warm them in the soup.

    • Caryn from veggiecampus.com
      01.30.2017

      Jeanine – this was incredible. I appreciate your reply – I put the edamame in at the end and it was perfect.

      Caryn

  35. Kelsey
    03.29.2017

    I made this and it smelled perfect. When I tasted it, it seemed very sour. I wasn’t sure if this came from the bok choy or somewhere else?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.30.2017

      Hi Kelsey, the sourness comes from the vinegar – I personally enjoy this taste but if it’s too much you can reduce or omit the vinegar. (Or if you’ve already added it you could add more water and tamari to temper the taste of it). I hope that helps!

  36. Nadine
    07.09.2017

    Oh My Word! Just made it for lunch! So FREAKING delicious!!!! I added tofu as my protein and added sliced red chilli when I plated it! This is definitely a keeper and will be making this often! Thanks for such an amazing recipe!!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.09.2017

      Hi Nadine! I’m so so happy to hear that. This is one of our favorites as well 🙂

  37. Dominique Salas
    10.15.2017

    Why do we need to strain? I’m sorry, I’ve never made this and was wondering if it’s just for the removal of the cinnamon and anise

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.21.2017

      The chunks of onion, garlic, ginger, and mushroom stems get strained out after they simmer in the broth.

  38. Karen
    10.20.2017

    There seems to be a problem with the link to the Creamy White Bean and Tomato soup…when I click on it I get the recipe for the Easy Vegetarian Pho. ???
    Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.21.2017

      fixed it – sorry about that!

  39. HH
    10.26.2017

    I followed your recipe to the letter and we devoured it! I should have taken your advice and doubled the recipe! Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.28.2017

      I’m so happy to hear that!!

  40. Lora
    11.03.2017

    This looks delicious! I had dried shiitakes I need to use. Can I substitute that for the broth? If so, what quantity would you recommend?

  41. Katie
    11.04.2017

    Easy, flavourful recipe. Really enjoyed it. Thank you.

  42. Barry
    11.25.2017

    My wife is from Sai Gon and says the key to pho chai (vegetarian) is in the broth. She makes it from scratch, the best way, and even that seems like an art. The other thing she adds is tofu made especially for soup. The different ways of cooking tofu into tasty meat substitutes is something I never experienced before my marriage. Fresh herbs like Thai basil are crucial as well as lemon squeezed on top. Gotta go, dinner time!

  43. Mari
    02.15.2018

    Hey did you forget to add the edamame in the directions?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2018

      oops! You can drop it in with the bok choy!

  44. Farida Banu
    07.13.2018

    Looks delicious, can’t wait to try this recipe. First thing in my list this weekend. Thank you

  45. Punam Paul
    09.13.2018

    Great veg recipe. I have never tasted pho. I need to try this easy recipe. It seems delicious. Pining it for this weekend.

  46. Farida Banu
    09.19.2018

    Looks delicious, Can’t wait to try this recipe.

    Thanks

  47. Dee
    04.03.2019

    Hi there,
    Looks like a lovely recipe as well as quick & easy!

    Could I just check when you add the edamame? With the mushroom caps? Also if they’re frozen, do they need to be defrostedfirst?

    Many thanks,
    Dee

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.04.2019

      Hi Dee,

      oops! Add the edamame near the end with the bok choy. You can let it thaw first or add it frozen, the heat of the soup will thaw it pretty quickly. It doesn’t need to be cooked for very long. I hope that helps!

  48. Suzanne
    04.21.2019

    I’ve made this recipe twice now and we love it. I’ll admit that the combination of spices didn’t originally appeal to me, but they’re awesome. When the stock is cooking it smells amazing. The flavor is mild and extremely good. I added bay leaves, carrots, celery and one tablespoon of tomato paste to the stock and cooked it for a few hours. And to make the dish easier to eat, I chopped the cabbage into bite sized pieces. Thanks for a great recipe which is so healthy. sb

  49. Amol Patel
    04.25.2019

    I am definitely going to try this Vietnamese noodle soup recipe this weekend. Looks delicious already 🙂

  50. Lauren
    05.16.2019

    I know I’m late to the game on this recipe, and I also rarely comment on blogs, but I just had to say this soup was outstanding. It’s probably my favorite soup I’ve made. On a rainy chicago day like today, this is beyond amazing. THANK YOU!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.17.2019

      Hi Lauren, yay!! I’m so glad you loved the soup :).I’m glad it hit the spot with all of this rain!

  51. Mobasir Hassan from Chicken%20Tikka%20masala%20Recipe%20|%20easy%20chicken%20Tikka%20m...
    08.13.2019

    Looking forward to make these recipe for my kids. Love the way you make it.

  52. món ngon mỗi ngày
    08.25.2019

    I tried to cook this vegetarian pho on the occasion of Full Moon Day 7. The noodle is very delicious, the soup is rich and easy to cook.

  53. nico
    11.28.2019

    thanks for this recipe. i will try it today. 🙂

  54. Monica
    02.19.2020

    I don’t like mushrooms, but love ramen soup. Is there something I can use to replace in this recipe?

  55. Shiv Saroya
    05.13.2020

    Loved the recipe!!
    It turned out perfectly balanced and bursting with fresh flavours. My daughter said it was the best Pho she has ever had!!! 🙂 Thank you.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.15.2020

      Hi Shiv, I’m so glad you loved it!

  56. Yes the healthy food book to my house 11602 w laurelwood ln Avondale Arizona 85392

  57. Deeksha
    05.25.2020

    Looking so delicious.Thank you for this recipe.

  58. asha
    08.02.2020

    Thanks for sharing gonna try this tonight.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.