Vegetarian Pho (Pho Chay)

I have been meaning to put together a complete recipe index for a long time. I’m happy to say that I finally got it done. While I was categorizing all of the recipes, I was reminded of some of my favorites, and I ended up getting a huge craving for pho.

vegetarian pho

I first made pho (pronounced “fuh”) for the Daring Cooks, with brilliant Jaden at the helm. If you are not familiar with it, pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup that is usually made from a long-simmered beef stock that is enhanced with toasted spices. It is served with different cuts of meat, various vegetables, herbs, rice noodles and flavorful accompaniments that are generally quite spicy.

It is possible to make pho without the beef, of course. I’ve made both chicken and turkey pho for this blog, and I’ve seen fish and seafood pho recipes, as well.

Since I only had homemade vegetable stock on hand this time, though, I decided to create a vegetarian version of pho (pho chay).

Just so you know, I didn’t consult a recipe when I made this vegetarian pho. I used what I had on hand, and it’s a very pan-Asian rendition. There’s a little hint of Japan with the edamame, a bit of China with the bok choy, and I used Indonesian ketjap manis and sriracha sauces. Ketjap manis is a dark, sweet, and very flavorful soy sauce. It may be available in the Asian section of your grocery store, or check in an Asian market or order online. If you don’t have it, substitute wheat-free soy sauce and add some brown sugar (try 1 tablespoon of each, taste, and add more if needed).

I am pleased to say this soup is extremely tasty as well as healthy: it is gluten-free, contains protein in the form of the edamame, and is loaded with calcium from the greens.

When I took the pictures, I completely forgot about the cilantro. It’s optional in the recipe, but it is highly suggested. You could also garnish with chopped mint and/or basil, and raw bean sprouts would be a nice touch thrown in at the end, too.
I am not a big fan of tofu or meat substitutes made from wheat, etc., but if those are your thing, feel free to add them to your pho.

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vegan pho

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free!

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Vegan/Vegetarian Pho Recipe

inspired by Jaden of Steamy Kitchen
Serves 2


  • * 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • * 4 whole cloves
  • * 4 whole star anise
  • * 1 cinnamon stick
  • * 1 quart vegetable stock preferably homemade
  • * 1 small onion peeled and quartered
  • * one 3-inch chunk of ginger peeled and smashed with side of knife
  • * 2 tablespoons ketjap manis dark and sweet Indonesian soy sauce
  • * 2 cups chopped bok choy
  • * 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
  • * approx. 2 oz. rice noodles or cellophane/bean thread noodles
  • * 1-2 tablespoon cilantro chopped- for garnish (optional)
  • * 1-2 tablespoon chopped green onions white parts only, minced- for garnish (optional)
  • * 1/2 lime cut into wedges
  • * Sriracha chili sauce to taste


  • 1. Heat a cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon stick and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices into a bowl to avoid burning them and set aside.
  • 2. In a large pot, add the toasted spices and all ingredients from stock through ketjap manis and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • 3. Taste the broth and add more ketjap manis, if needed. Strain the broth, reserving the solids. Chop the onion and ginger and add them back to the pot with the bok choy and edamame and cook for 4-5 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  • 4. Add the noodles and allow to sit for a few minutes while they soften.
  • 5. To serve, ladle the broth into bowls. Divide the bok choy, edamame, and noodles evenly into each bowl. Sprinkle on the garnishes and add sriracha to taste. Squeeze lime juice to taste over the top of your bowl before eating.