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.
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.
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.
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:
- Shiitake Maki Sushi
- Sesame Soba Noodles
- Ginger Miso Soup
- Crispy Sesame Tofu
- Tamago Kake Gohan
Then, find more of my favorite soup recipes here!
Easy Vegetarian Pho
- 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
- Lime slices
- Mung bean sprouts
- Fresh herbs: basil, mint, and/or cilantro
- Sriracha, sliced thai chiles, or sliced jalapeños
- In a medium pot over low heat, combine the star anise, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and cloves and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- 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.
- Slice the shiitake mushroom caps and add them to the pot along with the tamari, rice vinegar, and scallions. Simmer 15 minutes.
- 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.
- 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!