Vegan Pho (Pho Chay)

After my first attempt at making pho, here is my version of Vegan Pho. For those who have not heard of Pho before: Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles (bánh phở) and fresh herbs. Traditionally meat based, Pho Chay is the vegetarian version eaten widely across Vietnam. I’ve always enjoyed Vietnamese food even though I have never travelled to Vietnam. My exposure to Vietnamese cuisine has been mainly by trying out multiple Vietnamese restaurants in London and tasting varied versions of Pho. This again was one of the dishes I never thought I would make at home. I made it a few times in lockdown. It’s been a while I’ve made it and now improvised on my previous version. The dish does require a lot of patience and time so it is definitely one for the time you wish to spend time and enjoy the cook!

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Total cook time: 2 hours

Servings: 2


For Spice Mix:

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom (if you do not have this, you can skip it!)

For Vegetable Broth:

  • 1 carrot (sliced)
  • ¼  daikon radish
  • 2 celery sticks (sliced)
  • 1 red applet
  • 2 tbsp sweetcorn (I used frozen, but you can use fresh if you have it!)
  • 4-5 chestnut mushrooms (sliced) (any other variety of mushrooms works just as well
  • 8 dried mushrooms (reconstituted – soak in water for about 2 hours and drain and squeeze the water)
  • 3 shallots (sliced and charred – see below) (you could also use white onion instead)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (charred – see below)
  • 3 1-inch ginger slices (charred- see below)
  • 1.7 litres water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For Noodles and Condiments:

  • 120 gms rice noodles
  • 150 gms firm tofu (I used Cauldron’s firm tofu)
  • ⅓ broccoli head
  • 2 tbsp oil to sauté
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • For Garnish:
    • Coriander leaves
    • Mint leaves
    • Jalapeño (or any other mild chilli)
    • Beansprouts
    • Lime


For Vegetable Broth

  1. On the hob, roast the onions, garlic and ginger until charred and keep aside. I used a wired mesh to char them quicker but you could do it on a pan as well.
  2. In a separate pan roast the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, fennel, star anise, cinnamon sticks and black cardamom on a low flame for 3-4 minutes or until they turn aromatic and keep aside.

3. In a pressure cooker, add 1.6 water along with the carrot, celery, sweetcorn, mushrooms, daikon radish, red apple, charred onions, ginger and garlic and roasted spices (above).

4. Pressure cook for about 1 hour on medium heat. I prefer using the pressure cooker as it cooks quicker. But if you do not have a pressure cooker, you could make the broth in a deep pan and let it cook with a lid on for about 1.5 hours to develop the flavour.

5. While the broth is cooking, you can prepare the noodles and remaining veggies (below).

6. After an hour, strain the veggies to leave a clear broth. You can discard the veggies or use some of them in your pho including the daikon radish, mushroom and carrots if you want to.

7. Season the broth with salt.

8. Add the mushroom, broccoli and tofu to the broth and cook on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes.

For Noodles and Vegetables

  1. Cook the noodles as per the packet instruction in salted water.
  2. Strain the noodles, wash under cold water and keep aside.

4. In a separate pan, add 1 tbsp oil.

5. Once hot, add the tofu and cook on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes turning it on each side until it is crispy.

6. Add 1 tbsp of soya sauce and ensure it is coated the tofu evenly and keep aside.

7. In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil.

8. Add the broccoli with 1 tbsp soya sauce and cook on medium heat until charred and keep aside

Assemble the Pho

  1. In a deep bowl, add the boiled noodles.
  2. Pour the broth on top of the noodles.
  3. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, mint leaves, chillies, broccoli and bean sprouts. Squeeze fresh lime and enjoy hot!

Hope you enjoy this!


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