Vegetarian Pho Stock

Vegetarian 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: 23,144
  • Success Rating: 66% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: 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 after most of the simmering is complete in order to preserve the tamari flavor.

To avoid excessive bitterness in the stock, be sure to remove 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.

Step 2: 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 a 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 Rouxbe Staff
    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 Rouxbe Staff
    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 Rouxbe Staff
    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 Rouxbe Staff
    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
  • Ryan W
    Ryan 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 Rouxbe Staff
    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

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