Spicy Vegetarian Pho

By: Hannah Lee Leidy

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Serves 4


  • 1 batch Vietnamese vegetarian stock (recipe follows)
  • Coarse kosher salt to taste
  • 1 ounce dried white tree or wood ear mushrooms
  • 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, roughly chopped
  • 2 bunches (4 ounces) fresh oyster mushrooms, tough stems discarded, roughly chopped
  • 12 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ⅓ cup gochujang chile paste, plus extra for serving
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 14 ounces fresh pho noodles (or ½ pound dried pho noodles)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons high quality chile oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • ½ small white onion, julienned
  • 12 scallions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
  • For serving: Bean sprouts, Thai basil leaves, cilantro leaves, thinly sliced radishes, and lime wedges, Bragg Liquid Aminos
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, bring the stock to a simmer. Bring a separate large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, put dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with hot tap water. Place a plate over mushrooms to keep them submerged. Soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain mushrooms, discard soaking liquid (or reserve it for another use, such as cooking grains), and discard woody cores from mushrooms. Roughly chop mushrooms and add them to simmering stock along with the fresh mushrooms and tofu. Cook until mushrooms are softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Place the gochujang in a small bowl and add 1 large ladle of warm stock. Whisk together, then return the mixture to the stock and stir well to combine. Add spinach and cook just until wilted, about 1 minute. Season stock to taste with salt.
  4. In the pot with salted boiling water, cook the noodles until they have just softened but still have a bit of bite (2 minutes for fresh or up to 6 for dried). Drain noodles in a colander. Warm 4 large soup bowls in a 300-degree oven for 1 minute, or in the microwave for 30 seconds. Evenly divide noodles between bowls.
  5. Ladle soup over noodles and evenly distribute vegetables and tofu among the bowls. Divide the sesame seeds, chile oil, sesame oil, julienned onion, and scallions among the bowls.
  6. Serve immediately with a platter full of bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, sliced radishes, and lime wedges to add to your soups as you like. Have a bottle of Bragg Liquid Aminos and some gochujang on hand to stir into your soup.

Vietnamese Vegetarian Stock
Makes 4 quarts

1 large white onion, unpeeled and roughly chopped
1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
6 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 carrots, unpeeled and roughly chopped
12 fresh white (button) mushrooms
12 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems left intact
¼ medium napa cabbage, roughly chopped
4 whole cloves
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 large piece (approximately 3×6 inches) dried kombu
3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra to taste
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt, plus extra to taste

  1. In a large pot over high heat, add onion, ginger, scallions, carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, kombu, and 4 quarts water. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very soft and the stock is fragrant, about 30 minutes.
  2. Pour stock through a sieve into a clean pot set over low heat and discard the aromatics. Add sugar and salt and whisk until they dissolve. Season stock to taste with sugar and salt as needed. Use immediately or let cool to room temperature. Store the stock in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (or freeze for up to 1 month).
  • Adapted from Elizabeth Street Cafe, Phaidon, 2017.

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  • Natalie R Ethington
    June 1, 2023 at 11:54 am

    You can freeze it much longer than a month. I suggest smaller containers or ice cube trays to customize what you need.