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Soup Saturday: Fast & Simple Veggie-Packed Vegan Pho

We’re in what feels like the fifth month of 2019 and January is only just officially over. For real though, was that not the longest 31 days of everyone’s life? Maybe it was the post-holiday exhaustion, or the ramp up to a new year that is incredibly exhilarating (all those possibilities of the promises you make to yourself that you absolutely won’t break this year, again). Some of you might say it was all the souping, but don’t blame my skewed perception of time on this glorious brothy friend, okay?

And though #JanStewary is now in the rearview mirror—#FebStewary has a nice ring to it, still…thoughts?—we wanted to wrap things up with one final soup recipe because we just can’t quit you, soup.

For all of you in a straight up polar vortex who might want something warm and soothing in your bellies, we bring to you today a recipe that Sara cooked up (literally and figuratively). It’s a take on pho, but totally vegan, jam-packed with veggies and an insanely flavorful broth. Here, we went with seared tofu because frankly, it looked really pretty, but I’d probably veer left from “vegan” the next time I eat this and add chicken meatballs (like the ones from last week’s recipe) or very thinly sliced rare beef like you find in Vietnamese restaurants for variety.

Instead of the typical rice noodles, we upped the fiber quotient with zoodles (just zucchini put through a spiralizer, though Sara said ribbons made with a standard potato peeler would probably work just as well if you don’t have one of those fancy contraptions…or just get them pre-made at Trader Joes or Whole Foods). Rainbow carrots are just darn pretty, though regular orange carrots are also perfectly fine. And heck, if you want to swap the zoodles entirely for rice noodles, that would also be great. This is SUPER versatile and so easy.

Pho broth gets its deep yummy flavor from cooking for like 9 hours or DAYS, but man…that’s a lot of time, so we took a few shortcuts and while it’s not by any means authentic, it does the trick for sure.

Emily Henderson vegan pho

[Recipe adapted from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken]

Servings: 6


For the Broth:


  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Herbs, Spices & Pantry Goods

  • 3 whole star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced into coins
  • 2 sticks of lemon grass, chopped into two-inch pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon fermented red chili paste


For the Toppings (use whatever combo you like):

  • Fresh basil (thai basil if you can find it)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh green onions
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Hot peppers
  • Unsalted peanuts, lightly ground or finely chopped
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Sautéed tofu (or meat of choice)
  • Hot sauce
  • Lime wedges
  • 1 package zucchini noodles (or 3 zucchinis, spiralized)
  • 1/2 bag shredded rainbow carrots (or 3 carrots, shredded)
  • Hoisin sauce


  1. In a pan on medium heat, toast your cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves until fragrant to bring out the flavors, careful not to burn them. Pho broth is usually cooked over several hours (or even days) so to achieve it in a shorter amount of time, we want to get as much flavor out of our ingredients as possible.
  2. In a large stockpot, add your broth, onion, garlic, lemongrass, garlic, toasted star anise, toasted whole cloves, and toasted cinnamon, to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  3. While the soup simmers, prepare your tofu and mushrooms (if that’s your topping of choice). Remove your tofu from its packaging and using a towel, gently press as much liquid as possible from it.
  4. Slice your tofu into 1-inch squares OR 1/2 thick slices (as pictured). In a pan, add two tablespoons oil of your choice, along with one tablespoon chili paste. Heat over medium heat and add your tofu. Fry on all sides until golden brown all over. Remove and set aside to be used as toppings. Wipe out pan with a paper towel and put back on the stove for mushrooms.
  5. Slice your mushrooms into coin-thick slices (or use pre-sliced mushrooms). In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and heat. Add sliced mushrooms and 1 teaspoon chili paste, and sauté until mushrooms are tender. Set aside to be used as toppings.
  6. To the simmered broth, add coconut aminos/soy sauce and chili paste, and taste. You can add more or less of aminos/soy sauce and chili paste depending on how salty or spicy you like your soup. Allow to simmer for 10 more minutes.
  7. If you’re going to be serving all your soup at once, you can strain it now using a mesh spoon or cheesecloth to remove all the solid ingredients. If you’re going to eat only a little at a time, we prefer to leave the solid ingredients in the soup to continue adding flavor every time the soup is heated. Add a handful of zucchini noodles and shredded carrots to a bowl and ladle hot broth over top. Allow to sit for a minute to soften the fresh veggies just a touch, then load up with toppings and enjoy!

Emily Henderon Soup Easy Veggie Pho Pinterest1

A few of you asked last week about the bowls we were using for these photos, and while some of them were no longer available, we did round up six favorite bowl and spoon favorites below. Quick note on soup bowls: The elusive perfect soup bowl can be tricky. It should be deep enough that things aren’t dangerously sloshing out of the bowl (2.5 inches is GREAT), but wide enough that you have room for varied toppings (7-8 inches is ideal). Plus, those dimensions hold a good helping of soup so you’re nice and full. These are not “soup course” sizes. These are “entree” sized bowls, just how we like it.

Grid Of 6 Soup Bowls And Spoons

Top row: 55 oz Bowl (set of 3) + Stainless & Matte Black Spoon | Everyday Bowl + Matte Black Spoon | Matte Black Bowl + Wood & Stainless Spoon

Bottom row: Low Indigo Bowl + Rose Gold Spoon | Gray Soup Bowls (set of 4) + Soft Brass Spoon | Mint Bowl + Polished Brass Spoon

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5 years ago

East Fork Pottery has the PERFECT soup bowl ….. it actually works for everything. Seriously, check them out.

5 years ago
Reply to  Paula

I came here to recommend East Fork. So excited to see they are already on the list (and in the comments!)

5 years ago

Just want to say I’m loving this so much! I’m not exclusively souping but I am making a batch on Sundays and again mid-week, and it’s providing us lunch every day and dinner a few times a week! I no longer have to cook every single night to provide us healthy, home cooked meals and it’s a DREAM. It’s also a money saver— even buying organic ingredients, this is cheaper than my regular grocery bill. Thank you, and I hope you keep this going!!!
PS, here’s one I made and loved. I used brown rice quinoa ramen noodles, but you could do zoodles too! It was seriously delicious and filling.

5 years ago


Love your blog. I always look forward to reading what you are up to daily.

I have a serious question for you. I need to know if I should pull the trigger on a gorgeous Norwalk sofa. The sofa is being sold by owner for $800. It is in awesome shape. They are great sofas that can run into $4,000, right?

Please respond. I don’t want this to be the one that got away…

Pat McRee
5 years ago
Reply to  K

I know you asked Emily but I have to put in my 2 cents worth on Norwalk sofas. I’m a huge fan of their durability. I furnished our multi-room cancer support center completely with Norwalk pieces. They looked great and held up to daily and nightly wear for many years. $800 is an incredible deal!

5 years ago

This looks so good! Been diggin’ Soup Saturdays, so thanks for the morning read and the evening recipe. We have two members of our family with auto immune disorders so bone broth and souping are on the regular rotation over here and my family has appreciated a little variation on the menu, ha! You guys should continue at least one Soup Saturday per month, or maybe other recipes? Curious which zoodler do you use? xoxo

Paula Carr
5 years ago

Gawd, I love Pho. There are so many places I can buy it, I don’t know if I want to go to the effort to make it myself. But this recipe seems easy enough to actually try. Thanks!

5 years ago

My friends and I have literally been crafting a calendar of soup inspired month monikers in the hopes you’ll use one and settled on Phobruary! It’s perfect with this recipe too!

Grace Blake
5 years ago

I love that you all have had the soup/stew recipes! It’s been very inspiring and a win for my fam! I would love for it to continue!!

5 years ago

Thanks so much for the vegan recipe! This looks amazing. Perfect for the crazy thunderstorm currently threatening to blow in my windows.

5 years ago

Please don’t stop this series! It inspires me every weekend

5 years ago
Reply to  KMR

Agreed! Please don’t stop sharing!

5 years ago

Please do FebStewary! My husband and I have been looking forward to the weekly recipes! I never thought I’d get him to read a design blog! 😉

Inês Seabra
5 years ago

I’m loving this series! Thank you for sharing.

Susie Q.
5 years ago

Uh-oh, you’re not stopping with the soup recipes are you? This one looks incredible. Are you going to corral these recipes into one spot on the site? I’d like to pull them up for future reference.

5 years ago

February Soup names recs:
– PHO-bruary (so fitting with this post!)

Just some ideas!

5 years ago

Not sure if I’m posting this a second time but I don’t see my comment below…

February name ideas:
-PHObruary (very fitting for this post!)

5 years ago

I have to say thanks to you and your soup diet for being just the metabolism kick start I needed. I had plateaued losing the baby weight, with many more pounds to go. And after three weeks of delicious soup lunches (which I so look forward to!) I’m feeling so much better and am even back into pre-baby jeans. Yay! Thanks for the inspiration for the easiest, tastiest, and most effective diet switch-up I’ve experienced 🙂