Recipes: Vegetable Pho

Quest Food (n.) ‘kwest-ˈfüd : a dish so spectacularly satisfying to your taste buds you spend a lifetime searching for the perfect version of this meal wherever you travel; an endless pursuit for perfection of your desired dish. Example: “Phô is my personal quest food.” 

I love pho. I also love vegetables. And I’ve spent the better half of my life as a vegetarian…so what’s a girl to do when one of her favorite dishes is traditionally made from meat and bones? Create your own version! It took a while to perfect, but here it is. The super clean vegan pho broth that will knock even your meat-loving friends socks off. The key is the ume plum paste and vinegar, a fermented product that gives the broth that special umami taste. As we edge into summer, mix up your favorite seasonal veggies to satisfy your quest for pho through the seasons.

I shared this recipe in the current issue of Edible Magazine. If you’re in Oklahoma, grab a print copy or scope out more of my Conscious Cooking recipes and other fabulous local foodies contributions online here!


Pho Broth
4 quarts water
1 large onion, peeled & quartered
10 cloves garlic, crushed
4-inches fresh ginger, sliced
1 leek, cleaned and cut into 1-inch slices
2 large turnips, peeled & quarted
1 large sweet potato, peeled & quartered
4 large carrots, peeled & cut in 1-inch slices
6 whole shiitakes
2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed, smashed & cut in thin slices
8 star anise pods
1 tbsp whole cloves
2 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
4 tbsp tamari
4 tbsp ume plum vinegar
1 tbsp ume plum paste
3 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 lime, juiced

In a large stock pot, combine the onion, garlic, ginger, leek, veggies and spices in a large stock pot. Cover with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil for 30 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Next, add the tamari, ume plum vinegar and paste and coconut sugar and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the spices and veggies, leaving a fine broth. Add the sesame oil and lime juice. Taste and season as needed.

Pho Noodle Soup
1 package rice noodles
1 package firm tofu, cubed & toasted
1 bunch asparagus, thinly sliced
1 head baby bok choy, chopped
1 cup snap peas, shelled or chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
3-4 scallions, sliced thinly
handful fresh cilantro, basil, mint
lime wedges

Heat a skillet with a splash of sesame oil and tamari, add the cubed tofu and cook until lightly brown and toasted. Remove and set aside. In a pot, bring water to a boil and blanch the rice noodles, avoid soggy noodles from over-cooking! To serve, add the noodles, veggies and tofu to each bowl. Pour hot broth over top and garnish with fresh herbs and lime. If you like it spicy, flavor with your favorite hot sauce (I like Mother In Law’s Chili Garlic Paste).

Makes 4 servings


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3 responses to “Recipes: Vegetable Pho”

  1. I love all of the flavors you have going on in that broth – especially the ume plum vinegar. It’s one of my favorite Japanese pantry staples! 🙂

  2. Lisa Palin says:

    This sounds wonderful. I cannot wait to make it.

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