Recipes > Plant-based Pho Stock

Plant Based Pho Stock


With some added rice noodles, vegetables and fresh herbs, this spicy Vietnamese stock will warm you up on those colder days.
  • Serves: 3 qt
  • Active Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs
  • Views: 38,058
  • Success Rating: 61% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Preparing the Stock

Preparing the Stock
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 leek, washed thoroughly and chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 2 slices of orange
  • 1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 - 2" inch slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 hot red chile, halved
  • a few sprigs each of fresh basil, fresh cilantro and fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 star anise
  • 3 qt cold water
  • 1/4 cup tamari (optional)


First, prepare your mise en place.

To start the stock, place ALL ingredients into a large stockpot. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If using tamari, add it near the end of cooking in order to preserve the flavor.

To avoid excessive bitterness in the stock, consider removing the citrus by the mid-point of the cooking process. You may want to remove it even earlier, so it is important to taste the stock periodically, so you can make timely adjustments.

Also, if you are sensitive to hot spices, consider decreasing the amounts of ginger, chile, peppercorns and cloves.

Note: If the stock is boiled, it will develop harsh flavors from the pungent ingredients.

Step 2: Straining the Stock

Straining the Stock


To finish the stock, turn off the heat and allow it to cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl (or use a strainer lined with cheesecloth). Pour the stock into the strainer, allowing the liquid to pour through.

Note: Your stock should be dark and golden in color, if it is not then you may need to reduce for longer to concentrate the flavors. Taste and add sodium if you wish to the stock – this is a personal preference.

If not using the stock immediately, quickly chill, then store in the refrigerator or freeze until ready to use.

Add your favorite noodles and vegetables to create a delicious Vegetarian Pho.


  • Bonnie D
    Bonnie D
    I made this stock today. I noticed that the recipe has no salt. Is this meant to be an aromatic broth and does it get salted later or are the other added elements for pho eliminate any need for salt? My kitchen smells wonderful. Thank you for a plant-based version of pho stock.
  • Chad S
    Chad S
    Thank you for the question. This recipe was intended to not have added salt, opposed to more of a traditional stock which is quite high in sodium. With the added Sriracha and hoisin as optional condiments for the final dish, sodium is not needed in the stock itself. Added salt in most recipes and stocks is an optional ingredient, so feel free to season to taste, if that is what you would prefer. I hope that was helpful. Cheers.
  • Bonnie D
    Bonnie D
    Thanks Chad. Your comments are helpful. I think that making stocks unsalted make sense since you use them as a component to another dish which may add seasoning later. For this broth I am thinking a touch of tamari, or ume vinegar, or fish sauce (non-plant based) or maybe the fishless sauce. (I haven't tried that yet. )
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Those sound like good ideas Bonnie. You could also try charring the onions and ginger before you add them to the stock. To do this, first peel the onions and ginger. Cut the onions in half. Slightly char the onions and ginger over an open flame (or under the broiler) just to soften. Remove any large blackened bits. Dice the onions into about 1" -inch pieces. Cut the ginger into large slices. I also like to add a bit of "Fish-Less Fish Sauce" to my Pho Stock—for a bit more of that unami flavor (about 1 to 2 tsp). I also often add a bit of rock sugar (or regular sugar) to balance out the flavors. Glad you are enjoying the recipes Bonnie. Cheers!
  • Chris P
    Chris P
    My stock smells wonderful with a clear pho flavor. The taste however is incredibly bitter on the back of the mouth. I think the bitterness is coming in part from the concentration of the lime. I notice folks have listed a 20% success rating. Have others experienced a similar result?
  • Dave M
    Dave M
    I agree Chris. The limes and oranges made this stock bitter for me as well. I removed them early as suggested. Next time I will just use the zest of the lime and orange.
  • Jeff W
    Jeff W
    I've tried this vegetarian version twice, unsuccessfully. The spicy aroma is tantalizing. However, the taste is surprisingly flat. I like Dawn's suggestions. I'm not inclined to try this again considering the time commitment and the result.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Jeff- Just curious if you added salt or not to it.... Despite some of the comments above, I find it needs some salt to bring out the nuance of the various flavor elements. If you are using it for a finished pho soup, it will be a big difference if salted (even just a bit). ~Ken
  • Jeff W
    Jeff W
    Thanks for the comment Ken. Actually, that's a great suggestion. I did use tamari, but was afraid too much would overpower the other flavors. Maybe I will try again. I've had traditional Pho and it really rates highly as one of the tastiest things I've ever had. It's very sophisticated in my opinion.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    A suggestion Jeff - Maybe try an experiment for yourself. Set up a series of cups with pho and measured amounts of salt to add. See which one tastes the best to you and note the amount of salt. Keep in mind that your palate will do best if you start the tasting with no salt and gradually work up to the right ratio or amount. ~Ken
  • Barbara S
    Barbara S
    Do we know what part of the lime or orange causes the bitterness in the Pho? Is it the cooking of the outer rind, the white area, or something else? Orange marmalade is known for its bitter taste; I suspect that using the white part is responsible for this. I am wondering at what point in cooking that bitterness is released. I guess I can test the stock in 10 minute intervals. When I have made stews with strips of orange peel, I don't get the bitterness. I am going to try making the Pho using only the peels and maybe a squirt of the juice. And salt—given the comments here, I will add salt. And maybe a dash of fish sauce at the end, if I need more umami.
  • Kirk B
    Kirk B
    Hi Barbara - thanks for your questions! Your instincts are correct here; the outer rind and the white area can create bitterness. Also, using an aluminum pan/pot when cooking with citrus can impact flavor/taste. One additional thought - be cautious about adding citrus to your dish too early in the cooking process - try adding citrus after you remove your dish from the heat - this will minimize your risk of bitterness. As for the addition of salt, I might suggest exploring these recommendations before you add additional salt. The flavor of citrus should create the taste profile you are seeking - without the need for additional salt. Just a thought. I look forward to hearing about your results. All the best, Chef Kirk
  • Pea L
    Pea L
    Hi - i too am experiencing an undesirable level of bitterness despite regularly checking in and removing the orange and lime. I am hoping that by cooking longer with the remaining ingredients like onion, carrot and cinnamon their sweetness might counterbalance the bitterness, but are there any other tricks i can try to remedy the situation?
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    Consider adding a sweetener like dates to balance the bitterness. Also, once the simmering is done, try the broth with some noodles and see how it balances on the palate, as there will be some sweetness from the noodles, too.
  • Karlie K
    Karlie K
    Can I make this in my crockpot and leave it on low all day while I'm at work? I feel that the result would be similar, with even more stock remaining afterwards because it wouldn't evaporate.
  • Natasha T
    Natasha T
    How do I reduce the recipe amount? Change a 4 serving recipe to 2 servings.
  • Lauren L
    Lauren L
    Hi Natasha. This stock is great frozen and since it requires quite a bit of gathering and prep I would suggest making the full recipe of stock and freezing it if possible. In terms of the ingredients for the Pho, you can just cut the quantity in half. Filling your bowls with noodles and veggies is quite flexible so you do not have to be exact. I like less noodles and more vegetables, for example. Lauren
  • Tria W
    Tria W
    Just curious, is there a reason the rind is left on the citrus and not removed? I made this the first time. Personally, I found the flavor of the cloves to be extremely overpowering.
  • Lauren L
    Lauren L
    Hi Ryan. Great question. The rind holds the oils that are the most fragrant. They citrus be overwhelming so many students choose to remove it after a short period of time. The cloves are dominant, for sure. I would encourage you to dial back the quantity. Some degree of clove's aroma is nice but too much can be strong. This is a unique pho stock and can stand to be modified. Keep playing with it. A bit of sea salt and tamari really brings it into balance in my opinion. Lauren
  • Sunnie S
    Sunnie S
    Hm....I really want to love this broth, but I just didn't. I decided to try the recipe just as it is written (with the exception of the star anise, as I can't seem to find any right now). I simmered the stock for 1.5 hours and kept the citrus in the stock for 1 hour of the cooking time. Unlike others, I did not get the bitterness even when keeping them in the stock for an hour. The stock was OK, however, I too found it flat and lacking umami. I did add a bit of salt (and that certainly helped) as well as a bit of sriracha and hoisin sauce (both of those helped as well), but I still feel like it is missing something. If I make this again, I will perhaps cook longer to try to get some more depth of flavor or try some of Dawn's suggestions above.
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Sunnie: thanks for writing. As discussed in the other post, this Pho has a different flavor than traditional and commercial Pho, that you might find at a restaurant. Most stocks are high in fat and sodium, this one is not. As suggested, I make certain to scrub the skin of the citrus very well. You can "personalize" the flavors to meet your preferences. I hope you will make it again. Thanks for writing. Always good to hear from you. -Char
  • Lisa  F
    Lisa F
    I did not enjoy this at all, made the recipe exactly as written, i took the citrus out after 45 min, i love Asian food but found this stock to have awkward flavors, bitter and just overall weird, i will make it again but i think i will be doing a lot of tweaking to have a more flavorful stock. Totally agree with Sunnie, just lacking.
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Lisa: This is a go-to recipe in my kitchen, mainly bec it is not laced with fat, and the sodium content is low. As I mentioned to Sunnie, washing the skin of the citrus is helpful, as well as taking the citrus out sooner. It is multi-level task, you may find that layering with a hoison sauce near the end of cooking will be to your liking. You can also cut back on the cloves and star anise, that might be helpful. Thanks for writing. -Char
  • Lisa  F
    Lisa F
    Thank you for your reply... I’m going to try again, I’m thinking... sweat the leaks with onion and garlic, add the mushrooms and braise the mix in some vegetable stock for 30 min toast the spices, add a dry chili to the mix and proceed with the recipe as is. Washing the citrus first. I’m thinking this could add a little depth to the stock. I’m loosing sleep over this one! Lol.
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Lisa: The other part of it is that many compare this to the Pho that we get at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. Don't forget the hoisen sauce for added flavor. I think developing a flavor profile you enjoy is key, and it sounds as though you are doing that. Get some sleep! Cheers, Char
  • Ingimar hrimnir S
    Ingimar hrimnir S
    For those who had problems with this recipe, I just made the stock and it tastes wonderful so I will share my steps with you. First I took all fresh ingredients other than the herbs and citrus, sweated them in the pot with tiny bit of oil and salt to help extract moisture and intensify the flavours. Next I added all the dry spices and water and brought to simmer, and after 1,5h I added the citrus for 30 minutes, making sure the pot was on a very gentle simmer the whole time and the lid was not on the pot. Then I fished out the citrus and added the herbs and let it continue simmering for the rest of the cooking time. I added a tiny dash of thai 7 spice blend to give the broth more character and a tbsp of soy sauce instead of tamari. Tonight I will start taking the steps towards making the soup which I will then finalize tomorrow, I will get back here with a final verdict on how the soup came out.
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Ingimar! Great to hear from you! Your summary is excellent, and I think it is key to remove the citrus in a timely manner, as you have stated. Thanks so much for writing! Cheers, Char
  • Angie G
    Angie G
    This sounds amazing! I would love to hear how it turned out.
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Angie, thanks for writing. This Pho contains star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and ginger--it has a soothing, fresh tasting broth. Give it a try, making your own stock is a total game-changer. Cheers, Char
  • Kateryna Z
    Kateryna Z
    Hi! I have just made the stock with some tweaks after having read the comments. I did remove the Orange slices 10 mins after the liquid started boiling and later on added some orange juice freshly squeezed, I also did not have like, so I tried to balance with some lemon juice and rice vinegar, lastly I added soy sauce at the end, like 10 minutes before finishing. Served with noodles, tofu, added a drop of oil, fresh cilantro and spring onions. Overall happy with the result. I have one question: do you dispose shiitake mushrooms? Any ideas of how they can be "recycled"? :)
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hello, Kateryna: Thank you for writing. Before adding the orange slices, try wiping the peel of any residue, that can make a difference. As for the mushrooms--they have lost most of their flavor and nutrients. However, I have taken the cooked shiitake and chopped them up and added them to a vegan burger recipe. Appreciate hearing from you! Cheers, Char
  • Geetika K
    Geetika K
    Hi, Pls suggest a nice clear thai broth recipe without mushrooms (due to allergies). Thanks!
  • Sandy S
    Sandy S
    Hi Geetika, Are you looking for another plant-based broth specifically?
  • Lyn B
    Lyn B
    Hi, as soon as the broth boiled I turned down the heat to low for 1 1/2 hours then off. The broth then was left on the stovetop without straining for a few hours. I notice the flavors are strong,. Can I add water and if so how much or was that too long to leave sitting without straining?
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hello, Lyn: Thanks for writing. This stock has a very "herbal" taste. I would recommend a few things--hopefully, you have removed the citrus from the stock. Strain it first, then, you can certainly add water, I would also suggest to layer the flavors with a Tamari, and maybe a few drops of a hot sauce. This Pho stock has little sodium in it and derives much of its flavor from the ginger, star anise, cinnamon, etc. The tamari will help you achieve the flavor you are looking for. Cheers, Char
  • Purity S
    Purity S
    Could I use normal white mushrooms for this stock if I cant find any others
  • Sandy S
    Sandy S
    Hi Purity, Dried mushrooms will give off more flavor in this application, but in a pinch, white mushrooms would work, they just may need more time for flavor development. Cheers, Sandy
  • Lakiesha H
    Lakiesha H
    I had to make the stock twice because of the bitterness. The written recipe says to bring to boil then simmer. I let mine simmer then boil and as soon as it boiled, removed the citrus and turned it back down to simmer. Checked every 15 minutes for an hour. My broth seemed a bit darker than golden hue tho.
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    Lakiesha, while the citrus can add enjoyable aroma and flavor to this stock, it can also add notable bitterness which you discovered. With practice, you will be able to adjust the timing and flavor intensity to suit your palate.
  • Julieta A
    Julieta A
    Can the simmering of the stock be done in the pressure cooker or will it make it bitter?
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    Julieta, cooking can be done in a pressure cooker; however, it will be difficult to control flavor development without tasting along the way. Bitterness is likely.
  • Jennifer W
    Jennifer W
    I wish I had read through all these comments before attempting this broth. Seems like there are quite a few folks battling with a bitter outcome, myself included. I followed the recipe and directions closely but I'm having issues. How can something that smells so good taste so unpleasant? I'm going to put the broth in the fridge for the night and fiddle with the seasonings tomorrow in the hopes that I can salvage it.
  • Riaz M
    Riaz M
    for fellow users on this site boiling the citrus peels seperatly then draining will get rid of any citrus peel bittterness.try it in the microwave for ease of use just use water to cover,a narrow pyrex jug and a small plate to cover power at 100% 6 minutes then drain.

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