Vegan Vietnamese Noodle Soup

The classic Pho Bo, made faux with seitan, is brimming with invigorating flavors and textures. I love it as a change of pace in the winter from thick soups and stews. Despite the length of the ingredient list, this is a quick soup—you'll be eating in about half an hour.

Serves 6

What You Need:

  • 3- to 4-ounce bundle thin rice noodles or bean-thread noodles 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 shallot, minced 
  • 1 32-ounce carton low-sodium vegetable broth 
  • 1 5- to 6-inch piece kombu (optional) 
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, or more to taste 
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon five-spice powder 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 6 to 8 ounces seitan, cut into thin shreds 
  • 1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts 
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced 
  • 1⁄4 cup minced fresh cilantro 
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice, or more to taste 
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste 
  • Thinly sliced lime sections for garnish

What You Do:

  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions until al dente, then drain and cut into shorter lengths suitable for soup. Set aside until needed.
  2. In a soup pot over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté until golden.
  3. Add the broth, kombu, soy sauce, ginger, five-spice powder, and water. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower heat. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the seitan, bean sprouts, half of the scallions, and half of the cilantro. Season with lime juice, pepper and, if desired, some additional soy sauce. Simmer for 3 minutes longer, then remove from the heat.
  5. Serve at once, garnishing the top of each serving with a thin wedge or two of lime, and the remaining cilantro and scallions.
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