Vegan Pho Bo (Vietnamese Faux-”Beef” Noodle Soup)

Asian rice noodles

The classic Vietnamese soup Pho Bo soup is made vegan with seitan and vegetable stock. It’s filled with invigorating flavors and textures, including rice noodles or bean threads. I love it as a change of pace in the winter from thick soups and stews. It’s still every bit as warming. Despite the length of the ingredient list, this is a quick soup—you’ll be eating in about half an hour. Adapted from Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for all Seasons by Nava Atlas.

Serves: 6

  • 3- to 4-ounce bundle thin rice noodles or bean-thread noodles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • One 32-ounce carton low-sodium vegetable broth
  • One 5- to 6-inch piece kombu (sea vegetable), optional
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 to 8 ounces seitan, cut into thin shreds (see note)
  • 1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, or more, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice, or more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Thinly sliced lime sections for garnish

Cook the noodles according to package directions until al dente, then drain and cut into shorter lengths suitable for soup. Set aside until needed.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté over medium-low heat until both are golden.

Add the broth, optional kombu, soy sauce, ginger, five-spice powder, and water. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Add the seitan, bean sprouts, half of the scallions, and half of the cilantro. Season with lime juice, pepper, and if desired, some additional soy sauce. Simmer for 3 minutes longer, then remove from the heat.

Serve at once, garnishing the top of each serving with a thin wedge or two of lime, and the remaining cilantro and scallions.

Note: If you prefer, you can sauté the seitan in a little oil over high heat until it becomes golden and crispy, but straight from the package is fine, too.

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One comment on “Vegan Pho Bo (Vietnamese Faux-”Beef” Noodle Soup)

  1. Robin Garr

    Looks great, but where is the seitan? When does it go in, and do you marinate or brown it? I want to make this dish soon!

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