This recipe is special to me because it is one of the first ones I remember creating at my first real chef job in New Zealand. The kitchen had wanted an asian broth on the menu for a while, but hadn’t quite figured out how to make one that is vegan and authentic tasting. They tasked me with figuring out how to do a pho - a Vietnamese broth that is traditionally made with beef or chicken, then served over rice noodles, lots of fresh herbs, meat, and maybe some veggies.
I had experienced really great vegan pho in Austin (where you can seemingly find everything unique and vegan), but had never tried it in it’s traditional meat-laden capacity, so I could only really go off of that one experience. I researched traditional pho, then tried all sorts of vegan combinations of what seemed best for a broth to me. It seemed like I recipe tested 20 different times to get the broth right and it never quite was. My head chef and I would sample the most recent iteration of the broth with each test and look at each other knowing without words that it wasn’t quite there yet.
Then one day, the magic combination of ingredients came together and resulted in the recipe posted here (that I have now made so many times for the perfect vegan pho)! I think the trick to getting the well rounded flavor I was looking for was lightly charring the ginger, onions, and limes. Something about that just brought the broth from not quite there, to there. Another thing that made all the difference was figuring out just the right amount of the dried spices. Too much cinnamon or star anise and it tasted like wintry tea, but this combination feels just right.
What makes pho great are all the beautiful aromatic herbs and spices, combined with healing foods like onions, garlic, ginger, and lime - it is a tight thing to have hanging around in your fridge for the months where we are more prone to catching a cold, and when our immune systems could use a boost from powerhouse healing ingredients.
This recipe makes about 3.5 liters of broth once strained and you can keep it in a jar in your fridge for up to two weeks!
If you’d like to see a silly video of me making this yummy broth, check out the posts on my instagram!
>> 1 onion, halved
>> 2, 3 inch ginger thumbs
>> 2 limes, halved
>> 3 carrots
>> 2 cup dried shiitakes
>> 2 hot red chilis
>> 5-6 sprigs each of thai basil, mint, coriander
>> 8 cloves garlic
>> 2 tsp cloves
>> 2 cinnamon sticks
>> 6 star anise
>> 1/2 cup tamari
>> 2 tsp coriander seeds
>> 2 small shallots
>> 3 tsp rice wine vinegar
>> 4 tsp coconut sugar
>> 3.5 - 4 liters water
Char the onion, ginger, and limes over open flame, skin and rind on.
Wash off some of the excess char, cop into large pieces, and put into soup pot with the rest of ingredients. If your limes didn’t get super liquid when charring you can squeeze them a bit.
Bring to boil, then simmer 30 minutes.
Strain with a fine mesh strainer and your good to go - season if necessary.
I like to serve this over rice noodles, thai basil, cilantro, mint, broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, sweet and salty tofu, chili, and a squeeze of lime!