This is a vegetable-packed soup with an aromatic and flavourful broth.
A traditional Vietnamese pho broth is made with beef bones and spices. This vegetable pho doesn’t have beef but I promise you there is so much flavour.
We are on to the last month of winter! I’ve been warming up in the mornings with a hot spiced chai and in the evenings it’s hot soup that does the trick. If you’re a fan of aromatic flavours, you’re going to love this vegetable pho.
Cinnamon, star anise, ginger and garlic are slowly simmered in vegetable stock. A hint of fish sauce adds umami and lifts up the flavour. If you’re vegetarian or vegan this can easily be subbed with miso paste, shredded seaweed or tamari sauce.
Vegetables in Pho Soup
For the fresh vegetables I use button mushrooms, cabbage, carrot and whatever greens are growing in the garden.
It is totally adaptable though, add in whatever fresh vegetables you like! The broth is the star.
The Pho Broth
The easy pho broth has so many delicious and deep flavours. Traditionally it is made with beef bones, but in this case, the richness is brought to the soup broth through rehydrated shiitake mushrooms.
First, the dried shiitake mushrooms sit in just boiled water for 20 minutes. They will re-hydrate and plump up. Both the rehydrated mushrooms and the water they soaked will be used in the soup.
Star anise, cinnamon, ginger and garlic are also added in and it’s simmered long and slow, to infuse all the flavours.
Fresh coriander and a little Vietnamese mint add a flavourful kick and beautiful garnish. My Vietnamese mint grows absolutely wild in my garden so I always appreciate a chance to use it. You only need a little bit of it as it packs quite a flavour punch.
The broth portion of this soup can be made ahead of time, or in the slow cooker but the vegetables are best made to order so they retain their colour and nutrients.
- 8-10 whole dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup boiled water
- Coconut oil
- 1 large onion, cut into big chunks
- 1 large piece of fresh ginger, cut into slices
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1 litre water
- 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce*, can be substituted with miso paste, shredded dried seaweed or tamari soy sauce
- 100 grams white button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- 1 whole carrot, grated
- 1 cup chopped kale, (or spinach, silverbeet, chard...)
- 1 fresh red chilli (or 1 tsp chili flakes)
- Salt to taste
- 250g dried flat rice noodles
- Lime wedges, Vietnames mint and coriander to serve
- In a bowl, add the shiitake mushrooms and pour over the just boiled water. Let the shiitake mushrooms sit in the water for 20 minutes. They will re-hydrate and plump up.
- Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp of coconut oil.
- Add in the onion.
- Fry the onion in the oil, turning it only occasionally, until it is well browned in parts. Add in the ginger and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes more.
- Add in the star anise, cinnamon stick, water, vegetable stock and fish sauce and bring it simmer.
- Drain the shiitake mushrooms but reserve the water they were in. Set mushrooms aside.
- Add the shiitake water into the simmering broth. Let the broth continue to simmer on low heat for 45-90 minutes. The longer it simmers the better the flavour. Take care not to have it rapidly boiling or the broth will reduce too much.
- Now start on the vegetables and rice noodles.
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp coconut oil. Add in the sliced button mushrooms and let them fry until they start to caramelise around the edges.
- While the button mushrooms are frying, heat up a large pot of water for the rice noodles
- Slice up the shiitake mushrooms that were set aside earlier. Discard their tough stems.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms to the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Now, add in the cabbage and carrots and saute for around 10 minutes until they are softened and slightly caramalised. If you need to add more oil, do so.
- Once the pot of water boils, add in the rice noodles and cook for around 6 minutes until they are soft. Drain them and rinse with cold water. Set them aside.
- Add the chili and shredded greens to the other vegetables in the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes until the greens start to wilt. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Remove the broth from the heat and pour it through a sieve to remove the spices and other ingredients. Taste it and add salt to your liking.
- To serve: In bowls, divide the vegetables and rice noodles. Ladle over the hot broth.
- Garnish with fresh chili, chopped fresh coriander and vietnamese mint and serve with a wedge of lime.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 302Total Fat: 3.2gSaturated Fat: 2.4gUnsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 1451mgCarbohydrates: 67.6gFiber: 4.5gSugar: 6.1g