Cuddle up with this warm, hearty vegetarian pho is the Vietnamese version of chicken-less noodle soup!
vegetarian pho

Failure to pre-read: the number one cause of recipe failure since 1999/infinity/beyond.

I don’t know what it is about cracking open a cookbook or pulling up a web page to just skim through it the day before you plan on tackling it.

But it is basically the most insufferable task of all time.


More insufferable than stumbling into a 3 hour chill time or an 8 hour simmer when you want dinner and you want it NOW?

Ehhhhhh. Probably not.

Though in that moment, when all that stands between you and sleep is a quick recipe once over? Sleep wins. Every time.


Solution: Picture Cook. A cookbook that takes the process of recipe writing and reading, chews it up, spits it out, and totally reinvents it in a crazy new way.

I mean, basically it is as the title says: a cookbook in pictures. There’s a legend at the beginning of the book, which decodes a few key symbols (like heat levels, oven temps, blender settings, etc.) but other than that, it’s all pictures all the time. Each recipe is basically a flow chart with arrows showing you the order in which steps need to be carried out, but other than a strip at the bottom of the page, which denotes the ingredients in both image and text form, there is almost no writing. And even with such limited verbiage, it is surprisingly comprehensible. Probably even more so than if it were all spelled out for you.

It actually makes me giddy to flip through it – devious even – as if I’m balking tradition. And I just love that I can see all the steps that a recipe entails with just one glance.

In a strange twist of fate, this book was actually written by one of my high school classmates, which is pretty cool in and of itself (at least to me). While she is also a vegetarian, the book has a mix of veggie and omnivore-friendly options (though it is slightly skewed more towards the veg) and features some great recipe classics, such as eggplant parm, lasagna, chili, panzanella, myriad taco filling suggestions, and so many more. Seriously, this book has all the basics, and while I think it would be a great addition to anyone’s collection with its adorable quirkiness, it seems especially perfect for the beginner cook whose eyes glaze over at the sight of a long list of ingredients and instructions. I think we all know one of those.

I chose to dive into the world of Picture Cook with this Pho, which can be made with either a meat or veggie spin. I, of course, went the veggie route and could not have been happier. The broth is richly flavored with star anise, cinnamon, cloves, onion, and ginger, and is then stuffed with fun mix-ins like broccolini, rice noodles, and a spicy herb relish.

And then it’s finished off with a drizzle of sriracha.

Because, obviously.

Chicken-less soup for the soul. Without a single surprise simmer. Gotta love it.


One year ago…Peppermint Macarons

Two years ago…Frittata with Thai Red Curry, Broccoli, Shallots and Feta Cheese, Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake

Three years ago…Slow-Roasted Halibut with Fried Capers, Caramelized Lemon and Almonds over Chickpeas and Skordalia, Brazilian Black Bean Soup

Four years ago…Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash Cups, Broccoli Salad

Vegetarian Pho
This warm, hearty vegetarian pho is the Vietnamese version of chicken-less noodle soup!
Yield: 4-6 servings
  • ½ pot water
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 hand of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 32 oz vegetable broth
  • 4 star anise
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 tbsp miso
  • 1 lb rice noodles
  • 2 bunches of broccolini, coarsely chopped
  • 14 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
  • ¼ cup mint, minced
  • ¼ cup basil, minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, minced
  • ¼ cup parsley, minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • sriracha, to taste
  1. In a large pot, bring the water, onion, ginger, vegetable broth, star anise, peppercorns, cinnamon stick to a boil. Simmer for 35 minutes. Strain out the onion, ginger, and spices. Return the seasoned broth to the pot. Season to taste with salt.
  2. Return broth to a simmer. Add the miso and broccoli into the pot, along with the rice noodles and tofu. Simmer until rice noodles are tender.
  3. While the noodles are cooking, toss together the mint, basil, cilantro, parsley, scallions, and jalapeno in a bowl.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with the herb blend as well as a squirt of sriracha.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bowl

I am submitting this to Souper Sunday hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.


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58 Responses to Vegetarian Pho

  1. Is my comment the first for this post (probably not)! Five years ago, we visited Viet Nam and were surprised to see so many people sitting in tiny chairs on the sidewalk (make shift ‘restaurants’) , eating this soup and other dishes. Dish washing was done by someone squatting next to a small round pan on the ground. This soup looks so good, maybe I’ll join them on my next visit to Viet Nam! Happy New Year, Joanne!

  2. What an interesting concept. Happy 2014 Joanne 🙂

  3. That’s exactly the sort of thing I want to be eating now! Something clean and fresh!

  4. I am the queen of not reading all the way through a recipe before deciding this is the one I’m going to make. It’s either a wait or a trip to the shop.

    I could be very happy with this vegetarian pho with no simmering required.

    Happy New Year!

  5. I somehow have never had pho but this looks like pure winter comfort. Love that someone you knew in hs wrote the cookbook!

  6. This cookbook you speak of sounds pretty great! Who doesn’t love lots of pictures??!
    And this pho looks pretty great too! 🙂

  7. Looks like the best way to keep the cold out!

  8. love pho…i never thought making it at home was possible. thanks for the broth ingredients 🙂

  9. Monica says:

    Noodles always get my attention. I love pho and your vegetarian spin looks fresh, clean yet hearty and satisfying. I’d love some!

  10. Teffy says:

    I love pho! I had it all the time when I was in Vietnam, and whenever we go for Vietnamese here in London I always order it. so so good! X

  11. I’m intrigued by this book. The pho looks perfect! Have a great week, Joanne!

  12. I’ve often said that a cookbook without pictures is criminal. I mean, we do eat with our eyes, after all. Sounds awesome. As does the soup.

  13. I’m intrigued! Gotta check out that cookbook. I’ve blown it more than once by not reading through the directions, apples and popcorn for dinner anyone? 😉

    Go Pho! Love it!

  14. cassie says:

    This is my kind of pho. Love it!

  15. SallyBR says:

    Interesting cookbook indeed…. I often simplify the recipe I intend to cook by jotting down the ingredients and a couple of words next to them, plus arrows as a flowchart.

    It looks awful, but I understand it and it works well for me… I think this cookbook is a great innovation, and the soup seems awesome, would love a bowl tonight, it will be awfully cold here,…

  16. So delicious and clean. This is what I need to be eating to start the New Year off on the right foot. Cheers lady!

  17. That cookbook sounds like a fun read. Love this veg take on Pho!

  18. Pho is one of my favourite foods! I’m so so sooooo excited about this recipe!

  19. Trisha says:

    What a cool cookbook idea! Maybe if I bought this for my hubby he would cook for me more? One can dream…Also love all the veggies and fresh herbs going on here! This is the kind of dish I need to recover from my cookie coma.

  20. We love broccolini anything!! Nice recipe from a nice cookbook too! Love your photos Joanne!

  21. I have been looking for a recipe like this! Pho is great but it’s hard to find ones that do not contain beef broth. Thanks!

  22. Seriously, you are amazing! I have never made pho, so I can’t thank you enough for showing me the way! P.S. So stoked you found your dress. EEEK!

  23. Bah! This is my DREAM soup! I love everything about this!

  24. A very healthy and tasty pho to celebrate new year!
    Happy New Year!

  25. Ugh, I am ALWAYS dashing through a recipe only to come to a screeching halt when I find they call for room temp butter or an hour long chill in the fridge. Impatient much!? This book sounds like such a huge help- and so cool that you know the author personally!

  26. Tara says:

    What a coincidence, I have been eating broccolini almost every day this week. It is starting to become a staple! While I could not imagine eating pho without tendon, flank and all the icky stuff, your version looks amazing as well!

  27. Kate says:

    I am the worst pre-reader EVER. Which is why I’m often stuck at the end of the day going “ummm, this needs to marinade overnight? Guess we’ll have it tomorrow!”

  28. gloria says:

    Sounds andlook amazing!

  29. Abby says:

    We go out at least once a week for pho! Love it. This recipe looks legit, I love seeing the traditional spices in there.

  30. Oh gosh, I prefer words to pictures but sometimes pictures help so much.. your soup looks absolutely gorgeous, Joanne.

    Btw, you were the winner for Indian Cooking Unfolded. I sent you an email about it.

  31. This is a dream come true soup and book. I am guilty of those last minute discoveries all the time.

  32. Lynn says:

    This looks like pure comfort.

  33. Deena Kakaya says:

    This is utterly my kind of food! I could cuddle this bowl and slurp from it any night x

  34. That’s so me… though it’s never me who ends up going to the store he he he. I usually bribe my brothers with cookies so they go get what I need for me ; )
    This pho looks lovely, I adore the vegetarian twist! Happy New Year! x

  35. Christina says:

    Pho is one of my favorites 🙂 especially in this lovely-10 degree weather! Yup that’s minus ten

  36. Pho is up there on my list to make and yours look like it would hit the right spot right now with this chilly weather!

  37. Christine says:

    Delicious looking soup! Great for countering the sweet-overload of the holidays. I looked at the cookbook via your link to Amazon, what a brilliant concept! Can’t believe no one thought of it sooner.

  38. Caroline says:

    I am the queen of quickly skimming and not really reading recipes…ever. It’s terrible. It just happened the other night when making a sauce…it was supposed to simmer for 3 hours…mine simmered for 3 minutes. I need that Picture Cook book! This Pho is lovely and your photos are making me want it now! I’m pinning to make this ASAP! It totally fits in with my New Year’s resolution to stop eating cookies! 😉 Happy New Year to you Joanne! Meeting you and being fortunate to sit with you at dinner this summer and chat your ear off was really wonderful. You’re a class act, lady! XO

  39. Monet says:

    Yay! Ryan is the biggest fan of Pho. I can’t wait to send this recipe to him! Thank you for sharing Joanne!

  40. tigerfish says:

    So aromatic with the spiced soup base and so fresh with greens and herbs!

  41. Gosh, this looks incredible. Almost as incredible as the previous post’s cake – I want this followed by salted caramel chocolate right now!

  42. Emma says:

    Looks gorgeous. I’m mad about noodle soups and those thick rice noodle ribbons look so good.

  43. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Mouth watering!! I cannot wait to make this for myself, it looks incredible 🙂

  44. Cookbooks are all about the photos for me. I cry when that eye-candy is missing. And so happy to see a veg Pho. My friends always want to go grab pho, and since I don’t eat meat, I can rarely join in on their hype. Looks great!

  45. I can’t believe you made this. Mind blown. I’m way too scared to make pho on my own cus it’s so damn good whenever I eat it outside!

  46. I love Pho any way I can get it. I have’t tried a meat-free version, but this looks beautiful!

  47. I have never eaten or heard of pho. This sounds really good. The cook book sounds really interesting too.

  48. Reeni says:

    I’d love to try pho this way! I never had it before so easing into it with a vegetarian version would suit me perfectly. I love the sound of the book too! I am notorious for skimming recipes and missing the most important step. The one that throws my entire plan out of whack.

  49. Josh and our friend Shelby are always raving about pho, but I’ve never tried it — excited for this recipe!

  50. What a fun book! I have searched to find a veggie pho at a restaurant that wasn’t a pale shadow of the beef phos I used to enjoy. I guess what I really need to do is just go ahead and make my own as this one looks fabulous. 😉

  51. Mmm, I love pho and this looks so perfect for the next cold day. The herbs in vietnamese cooking really are the best 🙂

  52. Rika says:

    I haven’t had a vegetarian Pho for years! I need to make some!

  53. […] yet, make give this soup some character by adding an extra vegetable like broccoli or some tofu. This vegetarian pho recipe seems to know what’s up in that regard. And from looking at the ingredients, it might be better […]

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