Tiny Kitchen Adventures: Vegetarian Phở

Before we moved, Shaun warned me the new kitchen was “tiny.” When I saw it for the first time, I realized I had a lesson or two to teach him about center-city apartments: the kitchen is not “tiny” by city standards. I was actually impressed! But in my excitement, I forgot about the elephant in the room. No really: our 110-pound dog who likes to lay at your feet while you cook.

that’s me.

Factoring monster dog into the equation, we have an extremely tiny kitchen. You have to hop back and forth over the dog to get from the stove to the sink to the shelves. It’s not the most efficient space, but considering how rarely we’ll cook I’m not upset. That said, when the opportunity arises to spend some time cooking a decent meal, I’m always ready to seize it, dog or no dog. Today’s meal: vegetarian phở.

Now, I realize this is probably blasphemy. Phở [pronounced “fuh”] is a traditional Vietnamese noodle bowl where I’m told the broth takes the cake, and said broth is usually beef. However, the recipe I used calls this vegetarian phở, so I’ll stick with that title until someone gets really mad at me. Whatever you’d like to call it, it’s so unbelievably delicious. Although not raw, it is vegan and gluten-free.[Please read my note below]

I wanted to make sure we had a really awesome phở experience, so I went all out and made us a tiny toppings bar while the stock cooked. The veggie stock is made from whole clove, coriander, anise and cinnamon [which we had on hand and was the reason I ended up choosing this dish] as well as broiled onion and ginger. It simmered for 30 minutes while I prepared the garnishes, toppings and noodles.

garnish bar! lots of greens: jalapeno, lime, cilantro, scallion and sprouts.

i ate one of those onions after i strained it.

After soaking the rice noodles and straining the broth, I assembled the phở: first, put noodles in the bowl.


Then, cover with the toppings. I used baked tofu [I baked it this afternoon] and blanched broccoli, onion and mushrooms.

sprouted tofu.

hint: it smelled so good.

Then, pour the broth over the noodles and toppings, call Shaun away from his NY Times article, and go garnish crazy.

i love garnishes.

In hindsight, I probably got too garnish crazy with the jalapeños. Halfway through our meal I had to leave the room, find milk, and cry while the inside of my mouth burned furiously. It took me a while to recover. Nevertheless, this was SO GOOD, whatever you’d call it. And totally worth the puppy hassle.

Get the recipe here:


* This recipe would NOT be gluten-free if I used soy sauce. Many soy sauces have wheat in them. I had Bragg’s on hand, which is a gluten-free soy sauce alternative.


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Categories: Dog, Food, Recipes


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/


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3 Comments on “Tiny Kitchen Adventures: Vegetarian Phở”

  1. Michelle
    October 15, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    no one will get mad at you because this looks delicious…and pretty! i had vegetarian pho the other day (and by that, i mean the other month…) in little saigon, CA, and it was very similar. yes, purists like my mom will say that the beef broth is everything, but what are you gonna do? we usually have ours with vietnamese basil and culantro (<– available at asian markets only, i believe).

    i had the same experience with jalapenos in pho! somehow the spicy bits go CRAZY in soup…

  2. April 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    Yum yum yum. I’ve been wanting to make pho for a while now. Before you left, did you have pho at the place in Charlottesville that’s relatively new? I haven’t been yet. I heard pho is all they have.

    • April 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

      We did not get to eat there! We’re going back for our one-year wedding anniversary in August, so maybe then…

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