Low Sodium Vegan Pho

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5 from 3 votes

Here’s why I created this low sodium vegan pho. I have to admit that every now and then I crave a good Vietnamese soup. Being on a renal diet, this is one of the things that I miss the most.

Low Sodium Vegan Pho with crispy tofu and green vegetables.

As always, the best way to have a kidney friendly version is to do it myself. After a few tries, I concluded that I was not able to replicate the addicting salty taste of pho. When I was close I just added way too much low sodium soy sauce which defeats the goal. So instead of struggling to find a magical amount of soy sauce, I decided to skip it completely.

Is a pho still a pho without soy sauce (or any other extra salty alternative) and salty broth? I think the answer is yes, but again, an original pho isn’t vegan either. It is therefore a question of perception and taste. If you think this low sodium vegan pho is still a real pho soup, then the recipe is right below.

Renal diet of the low sodium vegan pho


This recipe is moderate in phosphorus. – The main source of phosphorus in this recipe is rice noodles. But that doesn’t add much. Each ingredient adds a little phosphorus to the calculation, so together that makes the amount of phosphorus high enough to make it moderate.

However, keep in mind that many ingredients are used for the broth and are thrown away. This means that the calculations take into account that everything is consumed, but in fact we only consume what has leached into the broth, which is less than the actual numbers.


This recipe is moderate in potassium. – There are a lot of ingredients and they all contribute a small amount, but the overall content is still moderate.

However, the calculations include for example all the potassium from the yellow onion, but after the broth is finished, it is discarded. So in reality it may be less, depending on the amount of potassium that the onion and all the other discarded ingredients in the simmering broth leach out.


This recipe is moderate in proteins. – Proteins mainly from the addition of tofu. Without it, the protein comes from adding all the other ingredients (around 4g).

If you need to adjust the amount of protein according to your needs, all you have to do is add or remove tofu.


This recipe is low in sodium. – As desired, the sodium content is very low. The sodium content again comes from the addition of all the ingredients.

Ingredients of the low sodium vegan pho

Broth ingredients

The broth ingredients for this low sodium vegan pho include unsalted vegetable broth, yellow onion, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar and vegan brown sugar. These are the ingredients used to add flavor to the broth with the spices.

Broth spices

This is the heart of the recipe. For this spice blend, I used star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom seeds. Slightly toasting these spices and boiling them in the vegetable broth is what creates the unique aromas of this recipe.

Star anise, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, cardamom seeds, onion quarter, ginger slices and crushed garlic cloves.

Rice noodles

To make pho, rice noodles are usually used. But you can try any other type of noodle. I haven’t tried it, but egg noodles could be great in this recipe. When shopping for rice noodles, try to find large noodles and watch the sodium content. Some are high in sodium, some are very low.


This part is up to you. I wanted to do this as an open recipe. This means that you can choose the toppings you want to use.

Bear in mind that the nutrition facts include the broth, noodles and suggested toppings. Make kidney friendly choices if you use other toppings or ingredients.

Lime wedges, green chopped onions, bean sprouts and dry rice noodles for the low sodium vegan pho.

How to make a low sodium vegan pho

There are many ways to make a pho, but I have used a very simple and straightforward methodology to reduce the amount of manipulation. The simpler the better.

Toast the spices

Heat a medium pot over low heat and stir in the spices until fragrant, about 30 seconds. This will enhance the flavor a bit. If you are afraid of burning the spices or want to save a step, it is possible to skip it without affecting the overall flavors too much.

Make the broth

Once the spices are ready (if you are toasting them), simply add all of the broth ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat then simmer at medium-low heat for about 30 minutes.

If you’re doing other things in the meantime, like boiling noodles or making toppings, you can let the broth simmer longer. Your low sodium vegan pho will only gain a little more flavor.

Once the broth is ready, strain it and discard (or compost) everything except the broth itself.

Cook your noodles and prepare your toppings

While your broth is simmering, you have plenty of time to prepare your noodles. To cook them, simply follow the directions on the package. Usually, all you need to do is bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your noodles in it for about 2 to 3 minutes. Prepare your toppings while your broth is simmering.

Assemble your low sodium vegan pho

This is the creative stage. If you want to look like a cooking pro, this is your time to shine. First, add the broth along with the noodles and protein if there is any. Then you could add for example the green onions, bean sprouts, and any other toppings you want to make this dish shine and impress everyone.

Toppings for the low sodium vegan pho

This recipe is a blank canvas just waiting for your creativity. If you make modifications, use toppings that are low in sodium and potassium and add color to your pho. For this recipe, I added a lime wedge, chopped green onions, cooked bok choy, and sprouted beans.

Crispy tofu and green vegetables toppings for the low sodium vegan pho.

Variations for the low sodium vegan pho

Char the ginger and the onions

Onion quarters and ginger slices can be charred in the oven, on the barbecue or over the fire. This will add another layer of flavor. But it’s more work and depending on your kitchen it may be too much trouble to do so I didn’t include this in the original recipe.

Spicy low sodium vegan pho

The spice blend used in this low sodium vegan pho can be customized at will. For example, if you like spicy dishes, you can add hot pepper flakes or even spicy peppers. I haven’t tried it yet, but someday I’ll try adding some Thai chili while the broth is simmering.

Make your low sodium vegan pho a complete meal

Restaurants usually serve pho as a meal. To do this, you just need to add at least one source of protein. To keep it vegan, the best suggestions are tofu or edamame. If you’re interested in adding tofu to this low sodium vegan pho, you’ll like my baked tofu recipe.

Preservation of the low sodium vegan pho

If you don’t plan on consuming all of the low sodium vegan pho, I suggest keeping all of the ingredients separate for later use and cooking some fresh noodles again. This way you can reuse the already prepared broth later and simply take less than 10 minutes to make another soup. The broth should last at least a week in the refrigerator.


I highly do not recommend freezing this soup, or any soup with noodles. You can easily freeze the broth or even make pho broth ice cubes. But like almost all types of soups, the noodles will only disintegrate.


The best way to reheat a low sodium vegan pho is to boil the required number of servings of broth in a pot. Then simply add the ingredients to the hot broth to reheat them or reheat them in the microwave.

Low sodium vegan pho presentation.

Low Sodium Vegan Pho

This is my low sodium version of the classic pho (Pronounced ''fuh''). It doesn't have the same taste as the traditional pho, but is tasty in it's own way with all the fragrant spices used. For me it's the perfect compromise to get a flavorful and kidney friendly Vietnamese soup.
5 from 3 votes
Low sodium | Vegan | Vegetarian
Approved by (Not approved yet)
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Preparation 30 mins
Cooking 30 mins
Total 1 hr
Course Appetizers, Main Courses, Soups
Method Cooktop
Servings 2 bowls
Calories 349 kcal


Broth Ingredients

  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • ½ yellow onion peeled and quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger peeled and cut into thin slices
  • ½ tbsp vegan brown sugar

Broth Spices

  • 2 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick(s) (6 inches / 15.2 cm)
  • ½ tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp whole cardamom seeds
  • ½ tsp whole fennel seeds


  • 50 g large rice noodles uncooked (low in sodium)

Suggested toppings (See note 2)

  • ½ cup(s) bean sprouts (optional)
  • ¼ cup(s) green onions chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup(s) bok choy (optional)
  • 2 lime wedges (optional)
  • 1 cup(s) tofu slices or cubes (optional) (seared)
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil for cooking tofu and bok choy


  • Heat a pot over low heat and stir in the broth spices until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
    Spices : star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick(s), coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom seeds
    Star anise, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds and cardamom seeds toasting in a pot.
  • Add all the broth ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer covered over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. No need to be specific, it may simmer longer to give you more time to prepare the noodles and toppings.
    Ingredients : vegetable broth, rice vinegar, onion, garlic, ginger, vegan brown sugar
    Low sodium vegan pho broth simmering.
  • Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles per packaging instructions and prepare all your toppings.
    Optional : Prepare the suggested toppings. If you want to do it exactly as shown in the photo, heat the sesame oil in a pan to cook your tofu and bok choy. You also need to chop the green onions and slice the lime wedges.
    Boiling rice noodles.
  • Once the broth is ready, strain it and discard everything except the broth itself.
    Star anise, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, cardamom seeds, onion quarters, ginger slices and crushed garlic cloves strained form the low sodium vegan pho broth.
  • In a bowl, add the rice noodles, broth and any other toppings of your choice. In the recipe photo shown, I added a lime wedge, chopped green onions, cooked bok choy, and sprouted beans. (See note 2)
    Assembling a beautiful low sodium vegan pho bowl.


Note 1 – Nutritional calculation
Nutritional facts consider that all the nutrients in the onion, garlic cloves and spices are consumed and not thrown away as directed in the recipe as there is no way to have an exact calculation of what these ingredients leach in the broth.
Calculating this way represents the worst-case scenario for the leaching of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and proteins.
Note 2 – Suggested toppings
The toppings in this section (Suggested toppings) are included in the nutrition calculations. These toppings are suggestions only and are not essential to this recipe.
You can skip them, choose completely different ones and use different quantities. In this case, bear in mind that the nutritional values will be different.


Nutrition Facts
Low Sodium Vegan Pho
Serving Size
1 bowl – half of ingredients
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This recipe is for informational purposes only.

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