If you're new to pho (pronounced "fuh"), then the most important thing to know (other than the pronunciation!) is that it's all about the broth. And trust us, the ingredient list and time commitment to make this delicious broth is completely worth it. What more could you want on a cold weekend day then to have a pot of golden liquid simmering on the stove for hours perfuming your house and enticing your taste buds? Need some more convincing on this whole pho thing? Read on!
Pho is a Vietnamese soup typically eaten as a breakfast meal. The term pho actually refers to the rice noodle ingredient and not the actual soup but the quality of a pho is judged by the taste of the broth. Hence, it's all about the broth! Now a traditional pho broth is made with beef and chicken through a long simmering process and the use of spices, though vegetarian versions of the broth have been developed to accommodate vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. But the trick with a vegetarian broth is finding a way to develop a rich, deep flavor that a meat based broth will easily provide. And we were up for the challenge! We found that a variety of root vegetables, charred onion and ginger, traditional spices, and a balance of salty, sweet and acidic ingredients helped to develop the flavor profile we were looking for. Though you have to taste it to believe, on to the recipe!
Vegetarian Pho Bowl
PREP TIME: 45 mins
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours (includes 2 hours for broth to simmer)
Servings: 4 bowls
1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut in half
3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half
3 quarts water
2 leeks, chopped
2 cups peeled and chopped celery root (pictured above whole)
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup mushroom stems
1 head of garlic, cut in half
2 stalks of lemon grass, cut in half lengthwise
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 Tbsp star anise
1 Tbsp black peppercorn
1 cinnamon stick (~3" long)
1 tsp clove
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 cup bean sprouts
2-3 baby bok choy, chopped and steamed
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups mushrooms (we used a combination of shiitake & nameko mushrooms - pictured above), chopped if large
4 oz organic sprouted tofu, cubed
4 oz dried rice noodles
*Hot sauce if desired
Peel onion and ginger and cut in half. Place under the broiler flame until they are scorched black in spots. Using a large pot combine the scorched onion and ginger with the leeks, celery root, carrots, mushroom stems, garlic, lemon grass, salt, and coconut sugar and bring to a boil. Meanwhile combine the star anise, black peppercorn, cinnamon stick, and clove in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie into a satchel. Add spice satchel to the pot, reduce heat, cover with a lid, and simmer for ~1 hour to start to develop the flavors. Taste broth for desired richness then add soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and rice vinegar and continue simmering for another ~1 hour.
While broth is simmer start preparing the bowl ingredients. Rinse bean sprouts well and set aside, Chop baby bok choy and lightly steam until wilted. Using a mandolin, carefully slice radishes and jalapeno as thin as possible, Chop green onions, mushrooms, and cilantro and cube tofu then set aside. Cook rice noodles according to package instructions.
Once broth is done simmering, carefully strain solids away from the liquid. We suggest using a piece of cheese cloth over a strainer to keep small solids out of the broth. Return broth to the pot and add remaining ingredients, allow to warm over low-medium heat for ~5-10 minutes. Ladle into bowl bowls and enjoy! For extra heat garnish with your favorite hot sauce or green chili paste. Our lacto-fermented hot sauce recipe would be perfect with this pho, recipe here!
*Note if you will not be serving all four bowls at once and want to save some for leftovers we suggest keeping bowl ingredients separate and ladling broth into bowls over prepared ingredients. Refrigerate bowl and broth ingredients separately in the fridge and reheat together in a small pot when desired.
Totally worth it right? The flavor of this broth is so developed and deep with hints of sweetness, spice, and plenty of salt. It is the perfect compliment for any fresh vegetable ingredients that you like but we just love it with rich mushrooms and fresh bok choy and bean sprouts. Super fun and challenging to eat with chopsticks but don't forget the large spoon so that you can enjoy every last drop!
To the broth,
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.