Hi, vegetarian carnivores! I know I have been off the radar for a couple of weeks – sorry! Work got me swamped and I was buried under all the responsibilities of “adulting.” But not to worry! Though I have not had time to write out a recipe for you guys, I have been hard at work experimenting with a bunch of recipes and perfecting the one I am going to share with you today! I was first introduced to pho as a first year in college in SoCal. Back in NorCal, pho really is not a big deal and I really knew so little about it that I pronounced it “foe” and was made fun of the first (and only) time I said it. And thus began the saga of my pho addiction. And I have to tell you: finding vegetarian/vegan pho is such a struggle because every single place uses beef broth – it was frustrating. And expensive, mind you. Depending on the place, a bowl could range up to 12 dollars without tax and tip and that was ridiculously high for a bowl of broth, noodles, and vegetables. So over the past couple weeks I experimented with finding the best vegan pho recipe and it was a success! So let’s jump right in.
Pho base is traditionally made by simmering bones in water with some spices to get that coveted bone broth: dark and rich in flavor. But here on the Vegetarian Carnivore, we like to do things a little differently. Our base is going to be a rich mushroom broth made by simmering shiitake, oyster, and button mushrooms together.
I used my favorite kitchen appliance, the Instant Pot, to make this. For best results, start your broth right before bed or right before you leave for work. You are going to get a much richer broth the longer it has been slow cooking.
We are also going to dry sear a couple of onions and ginger slices on a sauteing pan. Doing this helps release the aroma from the vegetables and helps the flavor seep into the broth.
I went to an Asian market specifically for these ingredients because they tend to have the freshest ingredients for the most reasonable prices. They are also pretty much guaranteed to carry everything you need for all your Asian inspired cooking, from sauces, to various noodles, to all kinds of tofu, and heaps and heaps of fresh produce. I made this vegan pho about 4 times since I perfected the recipe and I can safely say that I have been having such a great time-consuming more leafy green vegetables. I am a vegetable lover, but even if you are not, I can almost promise you that you will enjoy eating them in this recipe.
There is a tiny Asian grocery store near me and it is literally the size of a living room, but so efficiently packed with things you have probably never even heard of. It literally has everything you need and fresh products and produce come in every Tuesday, so you know when I do my Asian groceries shopping 😉
Here is where the real fun comes in! I like to put in baby bok choy, leafy spinach, broccoli, jalapeños, cilantro, Thai basil, and carrots in my pho. I am also a sucker for a spring or two of mint, and the juice of an entire lime (or two!). I am that girl that always asks the servers at restaurants for extra lime and jalapeño. Every. Single. Time.
I think the nutritional content of what we are consuming here speaks for itself, but because we are a food and vegetarian nutrition blog, let me reiterate. Here is a (non exhaustive) list of some benefits of consuming these vegetables. Leafy greens have high content of Vitamin A and K, as well as fiber, manganese and other micro nutrients. The beta carotenoids, in both carrots and leafy greens, are great for your eye health. Broccoli is a powerhouse for the B vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, and B6, as well as fiber and iron, just to name a few. Lime is chock-full of Vitamin C, which boosts your immune system.
Convinced yet? Ready to get started?!
Ingredients (for 3 servings)
- 6 cups water
- Handful of thin rice noodles
- 6-8 whole shiitake mushrooms, thoroughly washed
- 2 bunches of oyster mushrooms, thoroughly washed and separated
- 6-8 mini button mushrooms, thoroughly washed and sliced
- 2 medium white onions, halved
- 3 1-inch thick slices of ginger
- 2 tsp salt
- Handful of spices (cinnamon, star anise, cardamom pods, coriander), preferably in a cloth pouch
- Your choice of vegetables (baby bok choy, spinach, carrots, broccoli)
- 1 cup soft or silken tofu, cut into cubes
- Your choice of garnish (Mint, basil, lime, bean sprouts, jalapeño)
- In a sauteing pan, dry roast your onions and ginger until they char and flip them over to repeat.
- Transfer them to the Instant Pot and add the mushrooms and fill with water.
- Add the salt and stir well.
- Set slow cook on high for 7-8 hours and sleep/work/do whatever 😀
- Add in the bag of spices for 15-20 minutes and remove.
- Remove the onions and ginger used to saute. You can also leave the onions in if you want – it is your call.
- Add in your tofu and let simmer while you wash and prepare your vegetables.
- Add in your carrots first so they can get a little soft first.
- Next, add in your leafy greens and broccoli and let them cook.
- Pour hot broth over noodles and let sit for a couple minutes.
- Garnish with basil, mint, lime, bean sprouts, and/or jalapeño.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
This has to be one of my biggest successes ever. Apart from taking a long time, which doesn’t even matter when you are sleeping or at work, this has got to be one of the easiest recipes I have ever made! It practically cooks itself! All the ingredients cost me a total of 25 dollars at the grocery store and yielded me 4 rounds of pho, and some ingredients are still not fully used up. This recipe is a wonderful hack if you want pho at all odd hours of the day (me) and don’t want to shell out 12 dollars a bowl at a restaurant. It is a win-win situation!
Ok, you read the recipe and saw the pictures. Now go make it! It is a perfect recipe for a chilly December day! Let me know in the comments below what you think 🙂
Janani <3 <3