Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Photo: Ordinary Vegan
30-Minute Vegan Pho

One of my favorite memories of visiting Vietnam is sitting at a counter in Ho Chi Minh City’s Bến Thành Market, about 15 years ago, slurping the best bowl of pho I’d ever had in my life. 

Every chef or pho aficionado will tell you that the secret… is the broth. They will also tell you that making pho broth is a lengthy, thoughtful process of at least three hours that requires patience and time — a little like a meditation, actually. I would also say, after one attempt at making pho broth, I was in a trance in my own kitchen, which was an experience in itself.  

Since then, time is less available due to life things (I’m sure you can relate at some level). If I still want to make pho at home, I would need a few shortcuts — not something I would recommend for spiritual transformation, because for that, we need to do the work. But, for pho, I think we can allow it. 

In honor of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Here’s a vegan pho recipe that will save you time and give you broth for days.

Easy Vegan Pho

Makes 6 servings
Prep time:  30 Minutes



  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 3 whole cloves (the spice)
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced into coins
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • 1 package wide rice noodles

Toppings (combine as you’d like) 

  • Fresh basil (thai basil is preferred) 
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh green onions
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Hot peppers (I like Mirasol peppers, which are long, red, and not very spicy)
  • Peanuts
  • Sautéed mushrooms (I like shiitakes)
  • Sautéed tofu
  • Hot sauce
  • Lime wedges



  1. Quarter an onion. Chop the garlic. Slice the ginger into coins.
  2. In a large pot, combine: water, onion, garlic, star anise, whole cloves, ginger, and cinnamon and bring to a simmer. 
  3. Cover, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
  4. Watch the chunks float around a little… inhale… meditate.

Noodles (while the broth is simmering) 

  1. Boil and cool a package of rice noodles until al dente (about three minutes). 
  2. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside. 

Toppings (prep after the noodles) 

  1. Slice or chop toppings. 
  2. Sauté mushrooms or tofu if using.


  1. Pour broth in a large bowl.
  2. Add noodles. 
  3. Add toppings, and inhale again (hear yourself say mmmm). 

(Recipe adapted by combining components from the blogs: It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken and California.com)

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.

Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?


Christine Chen

Christine Chen is the host of Esalen Live! and Chief Editor of The Journal. She is a two-time Emmy winning journalist, best-selling author, California native, and senior teacher of yoga and Ayurveda on Esalen Faculty.