How to Make Vegetarian Phở Without a Recipe from food52

1Phở is a soup you stick your face in before you eat. You can’t help but smell it: mellow onion, all those spices, zesty lime, and hits from just-relaxed herbs all steaming up together. It simultaneo usly nestles you underneath your blankets and ships you to the street markets of Hanoi.

Having so many flavors at work in one soup means you have a lot to tinker with. First, there’s the broth: Classically, it’s beef- or chicken-based, but you can get an equally robust (and vegan) broth by taking some traditional broth ingredients, which you likely already have in your pantry, to the oven or stove beforehand. Plus, by using your nose, you can adjust the spice components of your broth before it gets to simmering, so you know you’ll like the final flavor. And we hope you really like it, because this broth is something to have on hand for the week, to carry whatever miscellaneous vegetables need using up.

In addition to the wide array of vegetables that fit into this soup, there are noodles, proteins, and umpteen garnishes to dabble in. Stir in as many or as few as you want, or let each person choose their own (a phở bar!). A few slurps, with all the textures of the mix-ins and that anchor of abroth, and you’ll feel good, fortified. Here’s how to do it:

1. Scorch. Cut an onion and 2 pieces of ginger in half; the peel can stay on. Using tongs, place the pieces of onion and ginger directly over the flame of your gas stove, one by one. Hold them there for 3 to 4 minutes, turning every so often so all the sides get black. It might look as if you’re making onion s’mores (which sound horrible) — but there’s a good reason you’re going there: Charring the aromatics gives them a smokiness and a nice, mellow sweetness.

If this indoor campfire sounds treacherous, you could also broil the onion and ginger in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. You could also skip the charring step entirely and proceed to step two using chopped raw onion and ginger, though the broth won’t end up quite as sweet and soothing.

2. Make the broth. Put the onion and ginger in a soup pot with 6 or so cups of water. Next come the spices. Measure a cupped palmful (or a tablespoon) each of fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns, and add them to a little bowl. Throw in a few cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Smell the mixture: Do you like how it smells? Do you want to eat a soup that tastes like that? Into the soup pot they go. Are you not getting enough fennel, or do you want more of another spice? Add a bit more, smell to make sure it smells like what you want, then add the spices to the pot. Throw in a pinch of salt.

3. Simmer. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let it simmer, covered, for an hour.

4. While you wait, prep your mix-ins. They may be a combination of:

  • Noodles: cooked rice noodles or soba (cook your noodles beforehand — cooking them in the broth will make the broth murky and starchy)
  • Chopped raw vegetables: bok choy, kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, mung bean sprouts, mushrooms, snap peas, or whatever you have lying around
  • Protein: tofu, shelled edamame, or — for the non-vegetarian route — cooked chicken or turkey or very thinly sliced raw beef
  • Garnish: lime, cilantro, basil, mint, Sriracha, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, green onions, or crispy fried shallots

As you bide the time while your soup cooks, entertain yourself with some phonomenal puns: Pho is a phobulous, unphogettable Vietnamese soup — pho real, it should be a phonomenon. Pho pho the win. Pho phoever. It’s pho sho what’s pho dinner. (Except really it’s pronounced “fah,” not “fo,” so you can phoget about this phonny business.)

5. Get ready to slurp. Your broth will be ready when you taste it and you like it. If the flavor isn’t intense enough, let it simmer for a little longer. If the spices are overwhelming, add a bit more water. Then, strain the broth and discard the solids. Ladle into and add as many or as few of your mix-ins as you’d like. Let the raw ones (everything but the noodles) soften a bit from the heat of the broth. Take a whiff. It’s good, right?2

Vegetarian Ramen at Home from food52


For the broth:

  • cup dried mushrooms, preferably shiittake
  • carrots, cut into thirds
  • onion, cut in half (you can leave the skin on)
  • stalks celery, cut into thirds
  • 6 to 8 garlic cloves, smashed
  • One 2-inch section of ginger, smashed
  • stalks lemongrass, cut into thirds and smashed (optional)
  • cups cold water
  • sheet kombu, wiped with a damp cloth
  • tablespoons bonito flakes
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • cup shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
  • tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 squirts sriracha, or pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. Add mushrooms, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass (if using) into a large stock pot along with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Add in kombu and bonito flakes, if using. Simmer stock for 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Pour stock into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer. (I recommend reserving the mushy, cooked carrots for snacking.) Return stock to the pot.
  3. Add in soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, and Sriracha. Stir. Taste for seasoning: Add more soy sauce if you want it saltier, more Sriracha for spice, more brown sugar for sweetness. If the flavor is too strong, add in more water to dilute. Play around until you have a flavorful, balanced broth. Turn down the heat to keep it warm while you prepare your other ingredients.

For the ramen bowl:

  • eggs
  • packet extra-firm tofu, pressed of its moisture
  • tablespoon oil with high smoke point, like peanut
  • packets ramen or udon noodles, preferably fresh
  • Thai basil
  • Lime wedges
  • Green onion, sliced
  1. Boil a large pot of water with a pinch of salt. Cook eggs to desired doneness — I like mine cooked for 6 minutes so the yolk is nice and gooey in the middle. Remove eggs from water, keeping it simmering for ramen noodles. Cool eggs, peel, and drop gently into the broth while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
  2. Slice drained tofu thinly. Heat oil in a wok or non-stick skillet until smoking, then layer in the tofu, making sure none are overlapping. Cook for a minute or two until brown on the underside, then flip and cook for another two minutes. Drain tofu on paper towels.
  3. Drop noodles into boiling salted water and cook according to package directions. Drain.
  4. Divide broth between four bowls, then divvy up noodles, eggs (I cut them in half before serving), and fried tofu into broth. Garnish with Thai basil, green onions, and squeezes of lime. Slurp away.
  5. If you want an even heartier bowl of vegetarian ramen, consider adding roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, eggplant, or tomatoes. Cube them, then roast in a 425° F oven with salt and pepper until wrinkled, soft, and caramelized, then add to broth.  Makes 4 generous servings

Bulgogi Style Tofu, Allyson Kramer

One 16 oz block extra firm, very dense tofu (see recommended brand below)
4 green onions, chopped (use white part too!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 average sized onion, sliced
1 heaping tsp fresh grated ginger
2/3 cup wheat free tamari or soy sauce
4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
6 tbsp organic sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup shredded pear, skin and all

First, make sure your tofu is very well drained. Wrap it up in towels and press between two plates with something heavy on top to get all that water out. I pressed mine for well over an hour. A Tofu Xpress would work great here. I also used the brand of tofu shown below (found at Whole Foods)… which is super dense and just perfect for this recipe. If you can’t find this particular brand, just try and get the densest brick of tofu you can find, as the density makes it easier to slice very thinly. Freezing the tofu after draining is also an option if you’re working with a flimsier tofu.

Mushroom Stew — Deborah Madison

A wonderful and filling stew. We often serve it with an Herb Pilaf and Broccoli with a Paprika-garlic Sauce for a very complete meal. Mushroom Stew adapted from The Savory Way by Deborah Madison Serves 4

Notes: I thought the sauce was too sweet, next time add less sugar. To reduce the sweetness I added garlic, 1 tbsb. fish sauce, more tofu and some swiss chard.

The Sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar–use less
3/4 cup (~200 ml) dry red wine
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
freshly ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

The Vegetables
1 1/4 lb. (~1/2 kilo) mushrooms (combination of chantrelle, oyster, shitake, domestic button)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper,
diced 1/4 lb. (~125 mg) tofu cut into small cubes
chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish

Halve or quarter the larger fresh mushrooms. Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan, add the onion, salt lightly, and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are transparent. Add the mushrooms and the peppers and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms begin to color; then add the sauce. Add the tofu and simmer slowly until the sauce has reduced and thickened, about 40 minutes. Serve in soup plates with rice or noodles and garnish with cilantro or parsley.