Vegan Pho

Many recipes for vegan pho suggest shitake and/or portobello mushrooms as substitutes for the traditional sliced beef. We let seitan stand in for the meat and much preferred its flavor and texture.

Another unorthodox replacement in our pho is wide wheat noodles. We like the heft they add to the soup but of course the classic rice noodles will work as well.

A bowl of pho, the traditional Vietnamese beef and noodle soup, made a welcome second appearance at lunch the next day. Although the soup reheats well and keeps in the fridge for a few days, it's best to add freshly cooked noodles to any leftover servings. Wheat or rice pasta will become mushy and pasty if left in the soup too long.

For around 4 servings . . .

Begin by cooking  6 oz. pappardelle noodles until just barely al dente and still very firm. Rinse and drain and toss with 1 T. vegetable or coconut oil; set aside.

In a large saucepan bring to a boil 4 cups vegetable broth along with 4 whole cloves of peeled garlic, 6 or 7 slices of peeled ginger (bruised lightly), 1 and 1/2 t. five-spice powder and 3-4 whole dried red chilies (torn into halves). Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add about 2 cups of thinly sliced seitan and two large handfuls of tat soi or baby spinach leaves and cook another minute or two, just until the seitan is warmed through and the greens have wilted.

Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the juice of one lime, 2 T. tamari or soy sauce and 3 t. brown sugar. Taste for seasoning and add more tamari or salt if needed.

Using wide soup bowls, divide the noodles evenly among them. Do the same with the seitan, employing tongs or a slotted spoon. This can get messy so have a kitchen towel close by! Now, with a ladle, distribute the broth among the soup bowls.

Finish by garnishing with sliced jalapeno peppers and chopped cilantro leaves and stems. Diners can customize their bowls of pho with additional chilies, lime wedges, mung bean sprouts and hoisin sauce if desired.


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