Vegan pho with charred broccoli and tofu

Speedy, vegan -friendly pho.
Speedy, vegan -friendly pho. Photo: Hetty McKinnon

This 30-minute pho brims with flavour but comes together in only a fraction of the time it takes to prepare a meat-based pho. Thirty minutes is the minimum cooking time but you could definitely cook for longer (1-1.5 hours on low heat) if you want to extract even more flavour from the aromatics.


350g thick dried rice noodles

extra virgin olive oil

250g extra firm tofu, drained, cut into 1cm slices

250g broccoli, cut into florets

100g (1 cup) beansprouts

handful coriander leaves

handful Thai basil or Vietnamese mint leaves (or a combination of both)

1 green (jalapeno) chilli, thinly sliced

2 limes, cut into wedges

30-minute pho broth

1 onion, peeled and halved

50g (5cm piece) ginger, peeled and halved lengthways

1 cinnamon stick

4 star anise

5 whole cloves

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp white peppercorns

1.5 litres (6 cups) vegetable stock

4 dried shiitake mushrooms

10g (10cm x 15cm sheet) kombu or wakame seaweed (optional but recommended)

60ml (¼ cup) soy sauce

3 tsp sugar


1. Place the onion and ginger pieces directly on the flame of a gas hob or under a very hot grill until they are slightly blackened all over.

2. Heat a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, coriander seeds and peppercorns into the dry pan and stir for 1 minute, until aromatic. Add the vegetable stock, mushrooms, seaweed (if using), charred onion and ginger to the pan and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the rice noodles and cook according to package instructions until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold running water.

4. Heat a frypan over medium-high. When hot, drizzle with olive oil and add the tofu slices, season generously with salt and black pepper, and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add another drizzle of oil to the pan and add the broccoli and season with sea salt. Cook for 2 minutes on each side until charred. When cool enough to handle, cut the tofu into triangles.

5. After 30 minutes, strain the broth and return the liquid to the pot (discard all the solids). Add soy sauce and sugar, and season with salt to taste, adjusting the seasoning to your liking.

6. Divide the noodles between the four bowls and ladle over the hot soup. Top each bowl with broccoli, tofu, beansprouts, coriander, Thai basil or Vietnamese mint, coriander and jalapeno. Add a wedge of lime to each bowl and serve immediately.

More vegetarian noodle bowls from Hetty McKinnon.