Easy Vegetarian Pho

Easy Vegetarian Pho with Mushrooms & Bok Choy in a bowl with a spoon

There are certain foods that I eat for dinner all the time that never make it here. My favorite thai coconut soup is a 5 minute walk from our house, and a hot slurpy bowl of mushroom pho is a short distance in the opposite direction. Both have been on my “to make some day” list for a long time. Well, friends, some day has arrived, and this recipe was way easier to pull off than I had anticipated.

First thing’s first – this is not an authentic pho recipe because (aside from eating a lot of it) I’m not exactly the most experienced in Vietnamese cooking. Also, I’ve simplified things here by skipping a few steps that were in the recipes that I consulted. I would have titled this “faux pho” if Jack had not rolled his eyes and insisted that the name would make for terrible SEO.

Authenticity aside, this a deliciously spiced hot bowl of noodles with hearty shiitake mushrooms and tender baby bok choy. A new favorite around here.

Easy Vegetarian Pho with Mushrooms & Bok Choy

This recipe makes enough to fill two very large (and very cute) bowls. Double this to serve at least four.

For leftovers, double the broth and store it in the fridge. I would suggest adding the bok choy only as you’re ready to reheat and serve in order for it to retain its vibrant color.

Easy Vegetarian Pho with Mushrooms & Bok Choy in bowls with spoons

Pictured: Soup Bowls

4.4 from 16 reviews
Easy Vegetarian Pho
Serves: serves 2
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 5 cups water
  • ½ small yellow onion, cut into 1” chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced in half
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 baby bok choy, sliced lengthwise into quarters
  • ½ cup edamame (or protein of your choice)
  • 4 ounces rice noodles
  • lime slices
  • mung bean sprouts
  • fresh basil leaves
  • chile sauce (sambal or sriracha)
  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.
  4. Simmer 15 minutes, then add the bok choy and simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. In a pot of salted boiling water, prepare the noodles according to the package directions, cooking until al dente. Drain and rinse.
  6. Ladle pho into 2 bowls over the rice noodles. Serve with the lime slices, sprouts, basil, and chile sauce.

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

If you make this, let us see! Tag your photo with #loveandlemons on Instagram.


  1. Katrina from warmvanillasugar.com on said:

    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. Synnøve from itadakimat.com on said:

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

  4. Alexis on said:

    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!!

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

  5. Bethan on said:

    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!

    • Hi Bethan,

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

      Ha, thanks – hope you like the book!

  6. Danielle on said:

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

  7. Deborah from deborah.dk on said:

    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 on said:

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

  9. Taste of France from francetaste.wordpress.com on said:

    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 on said:

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

  12. Authentic or not, these looks so good. I make so many dishes that don’t end up on my blog either. Need to change that!

  13. Carrie from carrieshomecooking.com on said:

    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!

  14. 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!!!

  15. Ruth on said:

    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.

  16. This looks so Delicious! I love your recipe. Pin it and try it now

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. AAR on said:

    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.

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

  20. 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

  21. Erin from vegansfirst.com on said:

    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 on said:

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

  22. Mnsoni on said:

    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 on said:

      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…

      • Dana Blond from ginghamandcamo.com on said:

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

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

  24. Ruby from recipesonboard.com on said:

    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.

  25. Donna on said:

    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.

  26. Aliza R. on said:

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

  27. Nicole from nicolemadsenphotography.wordpress.com on said:

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

  28. Enid on said:

    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!

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

  29. Andrea Farmer on said:

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

  30. Danyelle on said:

    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!

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

  31. 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!

  32. Caitlin F on said:

    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!

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

  33. Monica on said:

    OMG made this!! It was so yummy.

  34. Cory on said:

    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!

  35. Rachel on said:

    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!

    • 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!

  36. Caryn from veggiecampus.com on said:

    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!

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

    • Caryn from veggiecampus.com on said:

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


  37. Kelsey on said:

    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?

    • 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!

  38. Nadine on said:

    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!!!

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

  39. Dominique Salas on said:

    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

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

  40. Karen on said:

    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. ???

  41. HH on said:

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

  42. Lora on said:

    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?

  43. Katie on said:

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

  44. Barry on said:

    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!

  45. Mom2many on said:

    I made this today, and obviously something went wrong. With all the simmering, it evaporated down to one small bowl – even after adding a 6th cup of water. (Yes – I made the noodles in a separate pot.) I didn’t like the earthy flavor of the broth – so I’ll omit the mushrooms from the broth next time.

    But how do I fix this so I end up with more than one bowl?

    • I’d simmer on lower heat, if possible, or a little less time. It should serve two pretty big bowls with all of the vegetables and noodles added.

  46. Mari on said:

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

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

  47. Farida Banu on said:

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

  48. Punam Paul on said:

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

  49. Punam Paul on said:

    Great! Recipe

  50. Farida Banu on said:

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


  51. Zuzanna on said:

    I have just tried the recipe and to my taste, it lacks flavor. It probably requires much longer time on to stove, with the aromatics still in the broth.

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