So here's what I did:
- 1 small red onion
- 1 2-inch segment of ginger root, peeled
- 28 oz can of soup nǎn chay clear vegetarian stock
- 4 oz water
- 1 tablespoon nước mắm chay pha sẵn special sauce for vegetarians
- 11⁄2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 3-inch stick of cinnamon
- 2 pods star anise
- 2 large bay leaves
- 1 pod black cardamom, cracked
Add the onion and ginger to the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.
While the stock simmers, prepare the garnish.
- Thai basil, julienned
- napa cabbage, julienned
- scallions, sliced
- lime wedges
- hosin sauce/tương ăn phở
- mung bean sprouts, parboiled
When the phở is ready, prepare the bhàn phở noodles (the 上海類麵 wheat noodles we used turned out really nice, too) according to the package directions — probably they'll need to be boiled for four or five minutes. In the meantime, strain solids out of the stock.
Put the noodles in serving bowls, ladle stock over the noodles, and let everyone garnish to suit their individual tastes.
If we try this recipe again, I will definitely only use one or maybe only a half pod of star anise, maybe just soy sauce (cutting out or at least cutting back the nước mắm chay pha sẵn), and I'm not sure of the cinnamon. At this point we're beyond faux phở and are just in the soup with noodles category, but that's not a bad thing. And those 上海類麵 wheat noodles were quite good ...
To give credit where credit is due, I found phở variations at: Viet World Kitchen, Simmer Stock, Soupsong, Vegetarian Journal, Epicurious.com/Bon Appétit, Food Network/Gourmet, and Trang nhà Thiên-Lý Bửu-Tòa.