Pho! So good. It’s perfect for hot days or cold, being under the weather or on top of the world. It’s noodle soup with flavors of cilantro, lime, chili, pepper, basil, cinnamon, omg yum.
I can’t vouch for this recipe’s authenticity; the first pho I had was vegetarian, so that’s my frame of reference! But I like this recipe, and others who’ve tried it seem to, as well. It’s compiled from a few different recipes, the main ones linked here, and here. The big difference with mine is that I’m allergic to mushrooms, so those have been excised. I bet adding some dried shiitakes to the broth while it simmers would be delicious, though!
NB: There are lots of “vegetarian” pho recipes online that call for fish sauce for seasoning. Fish sauce, being that it’s made of fish, is not strictly vegetarian. There is vegetarian fish sauce out there, you can make it at home or find it at specialty markets, but most stuff you’ll get at the store is indeed made of fish. There are vegetarians who eat fish, of course, and I’m not going to tell anyone what to call him- or herself because whatever, so all I’ll say on the matter is if you’re making this for vegans or vegetarians, best to make it completely vegetarian—meaning sans fish—or ask to find out your guests’ preferences. <3
Easy Vegetarian Pho
Serves 3-5 people (for larger groups, make more rice noodles)
2 “beef” bouillon cubes (link to my fave brand)
6-10 smashed garlic cloves
1-3 tbs soy sauce (to taste. I like it salty!)
1 tb brown sugar or palm sugar
2 tb rice wine vinegar
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
handful of basil stems (leaves reserved for garnishing soup)
handful of cilantro stems (leaves reserved for garnishing soup)
1 yellow onion, quartered
5-6 thick coins of ginger, smashed w/skins on
4 whole cloves
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and sliced down the center
4 dried red chiles japones, seeds removed
1 tbs siracha chili sauce
8 c water
My method is, I swear, dump all this in the crock pot … and let it sit for 4-6 hours at a low simmer.
Then, about an hour before serving, strain the broth of all the gross used-up veggies and spices and stuff, and dump in 2 blocks of cubed or triangled tofu and the white trimmed stalks of a head of bok choi (reserve the greens for later). The bok choi will cook beautifully and the tofu will absorb the delicious flavors of the broth, even without being pressed. Traditionally, fried tofu is served, so you could totally do that—or press and bake the tofus after marinating them in a mixture of siracha, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce—but it’s so much easier to do it this way and I like it almost as much.
While your tofu is poaching, arrange the following prettily on a plate:
1-2 jalepeno peppers (seed if you want less spice), cut into coins
sliced green onions, whites and green parts
whole cilantro leaves
whole basil leaves
fresh bean sprouts
Also, just before serving cook up a package of rice noodles according to package directions, then drain and rinse in cold water.
When ready to serve, get big bowls and put the bok choi leaves in first, then the rice noodles. Then ladle out the hot broth and tofu and bok choi stems on top, making sure everyone gets lots of broth. Then allow your guests to garnish their soup the way they like best!