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The Best Vegetarian Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
Author: Gay Van Beek for Canterbury Cottage Designs
  • For the Pho Broth:
  • 2 whole star anise if you want to make a milder broth, I recommend using just 1
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • one 2 1/2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 tsps. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. goji berries -optional but I highly recommend them. If you can’t find them at the grocers you can purchase here.
  • 2 shallots halved (or leeks)
  • 2 small onions quartered
  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar optional
  • 1 Tbsp. Asian Fish sauce the best is Red Boat
  • 4 quarts Veggie Stock Zoup is the best – (Wegmans and Wal-Mart have the best prices. You can also purchase on the Zoup website, and they always have a coupon available to take to the grocers. I am going to throw in that their shipping, including packaging, is exemplary. I have ordered broth in bulk from Wal-Mart and one of the jars was broken and the rest were frozen solid. That will not happen if you order from Zoup.
  • Optional veggies: fresh spinach diced carrots, baby bok choy, mushroom, broccoli, broccolini
  • 6 oz. rice noodles any width
  • 1 cup sliced scallions
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • Bean sprouts chopped basil, chopped mint, thinly sliced jalapeno and lime wedges
  • Dollop of Sriracha for extra spice
For the Noodles:
  1. Cook rice noodles according to package directions (boil water, add noodles and cook for about 5-10 minutes). Unlike regular pasta you do not need to salt the water. They cook quickly and you can do this while your broth is simmering. Rinse and set aside.
For the Broth:
  1. In a large cast-iron skillet (do not add oil!), combine the star anise, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns and goji berries. Cook over low heat, stirring, until very fragrant, 5-10 minutes. Don’t skimp on this – it’s vital to the wonderful deep flavor. Remove and transfer to a small bowl.
  2. In the same skillet, combine the shallots and onions (still no oil needed – you are dry-roasting). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very deep golden brown (almost black on the ends) – 10-15 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  3. In a large pot add all of the vegetable broth and the pan-roasted onions and shallots or leeks. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes (longer is better!)
  4. Stir in the toasted spices, cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. (If you are on a time crunch, you can add everything at once and simmer for 30 minutes)
  5. Strain the broth into a large bowl, pressing on the solids. Add broth to a clean saucepan and stir in the fish sauce and optional brown sugar. Keep on a low simmer until you are ready to serve.
Prepare the Pho:
  1. Add rice noodles to large soup bowls. Ladle the piping hot broth over the noodles. Top with scallions and cilantro. Garnish with bean sprouts, basil, mint, jalapeno and serve with lime wedges and Sriracha.