This classic recipe for Vegetable Pho—which is actually vegan and gluten-free—is inspired by one of my family’s all-time favorite recipes from my first book, The Plant-Powered Diet: my Bok Choy Seitan Pho. Pho is a Vietnamese-style noodle soup. Growing up in LA, my children have always adored Asian food, ranging from Thai to Chinese to Vietnamese to Korean. So, when I did some research to create this yummy, fragrant meal-in-one several years ago, they went crazy for it! Now, it’s a staple in our home. And my college age sons can smell the broth simmering away whenever I create it. It looks so complex, but it’s really not. Just get that amazing broth going, and while it’s simmering prepare your other ingredients—noodles, veggies, tofu, limes, and herbs.
The basic recipe for vegetable pho in my book can be used to make many variations. While the original recipe calls for bok choy and seitan, you can substitute any leafy green for bok choy, and tofu for seitan. I always feature whatever green I have growing in my garden, but if you don’t have a garden try what is seasonal at your farmers market or grocery store. When it comes to pho, it’s all about the broth, and this broth is amazing—rich in exotic spices, mushrooms, ginger, and herbs. The fun part of pho is that it’s interactive. Just prepare all of the toppings—greens, herbs, lime, peppers—on a platter, place it on the table, and let everyone build their own bowl of noodle soup just the way they like it. You start with big bowls filled with noodles and boiling broth and then add on your favorite toppings.
Since I first created this recipe, I have spent more time in Asia and have improved on my pho. I have learned that with rice noodles, the secret is to not overcook them. And you may want to simmer the broth with your tofu and veggies a few minutes, according to your preference, before adding the toppings. I also love adding peanuts and tiny little birds eye peppers as a topping. If you really want to get inspired to create an authentic pho, visit a local Asian market in your city and spy some authentic ingredients, such as Vietnamese rice noodles, Asian peppers, Thai basil, really good soy sauce, and star anise. You can also grow lots of these ingredients in your garden (depending on your growing region), such as peppers, greens, lime, basil, and cilantro. I have all of these growing in my garden right now! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
Check out my Plant Power Live Facebook Video on how to make this Vegetable Tofu Pho here.
Join me on Plant Power Live as I show you how to make Vegetable Tofu Pho. Find the recipe at SharonPalmer.com. And don’t forget to send in your questions so I can answer them live.
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil (try to find Thai basil if possible)
1 small lime, cut into wedges
2–4 small chili peppers (i.e. bird’s eye, chili de arbol)
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
To prepare the broth: Combine all the broth ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables and seasonings. Return the strained broth to the pot, cover, and keep warm (broth should be bubbling right before serving time). While broth is cooking, prepare noodles and toppings.
To prepare the noodles: Bring a pot of water to boil. Place noodles in a dish. Pour boiling water over noodles and allow to soften, until achieves desired texture (tender yet not sticky)—about 4-6 minutes. Rinse and drain noodles.
Arrange cilantro, basil, lime, peppers, green onions, and peanuts on a platter for garnishing.
To serve the soup, divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Top with tofu and leafy greens. Pour boiling broth over each portion and serve immediately. Garnish with toppings as desired.
Alternatively, in step 4, you can add the noodles, tofu, and leafy greens to the pot of boiling broth and cook for 1-2 minutes to achieve desired texture before dividing it among 4 bowls and garnishing as desired with toppings.
Try alternative toppings, such as bean sprouts, mushrooms, and seitan.
Recipe is adapted from The Plant-Powered Diet by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN