(Probably) The Best Vegan Pho
Hello. My name is Casey, and I am addicted to noodles.
But, really, can you blame me? They’re just so good and they can be made in so many different ways.
No joke, I probably eat noodles or pasta in some form at least three times per week. Especially my beloved peanut noodles… happy sigh. I could happily live off of nothing but noodles and peanut sauce. The recipe for those will definitely be coming soon. <3
For now, let’s talk about pho.
For anyone that’s unfamiliar with pho: it’s a popular Vietnamese soup that consists of wide rice noodles in a savory bone broth that has been simmered with lots of flavorful aromatics and spices. It’s usually served with meat and a lot of different condiments and toppings. Typically the toppings include fresh herbs such as basil and cilantro, as well as veggies such as bean sprouts and spicy chili peppers. There’s also usually lime wedges. This allows you to customize the soup to your liking.
I love me some pho. Delightfully slippery noodles. Warm, savory, spiced broth. Lots of herbaceous, crunchy toppings. The ability to customize it however I want. It’s the perfect food.
I have always enjoyed making this dish, even since becoming a vegan; but, I noticed whenever I make it at home recently it seems to lack that super savory, umami flavor I was used to the broth having. However, after experimenting with that magical substance that is known as kombu recently, I decided I wanted to try adding it to the broth to give it that umami-ness I craved. It worked beautifully. Seriously, this broth will assault your taste buds with flavor.
I also decided to add some nutritional yeast and soy sauce for even more nutty, salty, umami-ness. That coupled with a bit of sweetness from the apple and brown sugar… swoon.
Lastly, I stirred in a bit of nut butter to thicken the broth oh so slightly and add a velvety texture. This was my solution to adding that sort of unctuous and slightly viscous consistency that traditional pho broth made with bones would normally have due to the collagen and fat. This, along with the pectin in the apple, yield a pleasant, slightly thick consistency. I honestly don’t think anyone would be missing out on anything with this pho. ;)
Alright, now it’s recipe time! If any of you make this dish, please tag me on Instagram @Bitchy_Baker or #BitchyBaker. <3
(Probably) The Best Vegan Pho
Time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: 4-6 servings
2 large white or yellow onions, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
2 heads of garlic, cut in half crosswise
1 5-inch piece of ginger, cut into ½ inch slices
1 tablespoon oil
2 quarts of vegetable stock + 4 cups water
1 4-inch square of dried kombu
5 whole cloves
4-5 whole star anise, depending on your tastes
2 3-inch long cinnamon sticks
1 fuji apple, cut into 1 inch chunks, core discarded
Small handful cilantro stems
¼ cup soy sauce, or to taste
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar, adjust to taste
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons of cashew or almond butter (optional but recommended, adds a velvety texture)
Salt, to taste
8-12 ounces wide rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 pound of seasoned and baked tofu cubes, or other protein of choice
1.) Prep the Veggies: Lay the onion, garlic bulbs, and ginger slices out onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and toss to coat before spreading out into an even layer. Place the pan under the broiler on high until the vegetables begin to turn black around the edges. Remove from the oven.
2.) Prepare the Broth: Add the onion, garlic and ginger into a large pot. Add in the stock, water, kombu, spices, apple, cilantro stems, and soy sauce. Cover and allow to simmer for at least an hour. I simmered mine for closer to three hours, the longer the better!
3.) Strain the Broth: Pour the broth through a sieve to strain out all of the spices and veggies. Add the stock back into the pot. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning to your liking. You can add salt or more soy sauce to taste. You can also 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar for a little sweetness. Stir in the nutritional yeast and optional cashew butter.
4.) Serve: Portion the rice noodles into bowls before ladling over the hot broth. Add on tofu or other protein of choice. Top with any condiments, herbs, or veggies you would like. Enjoy!