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Noodles, mushrooms and tofu in a bowl of soup with carrots and mint
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5 from 7 votes

Bún Bò Huế Chay (Vegetarian Spicy Noodle Soup)

This Bun Bo Hue Chay recipe proves that vegetarian noodle soups don't have to be boring! Full of spicy lemongrass flavor, you'll love how delicious and light it is. It's the perfect weekend meal!
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 30 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese
Servings: 10
Calories: 415kcal
Author: Jeannette


  • Food processor


The Vegetable Stock

  • 4 kg / 8.8 lb cabbage
  • 1 kg / 2.2 lb daikon
  • 500 g / 1.1 lb carrot
  • 400 g / 0.9 lb lion's mane mushrooms
  • 2 L / 8.5 US cups coconut water
  • 5 L/ 21 US cups water

The Stock Seasoning

  • 9 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 25 g / 0.06 lb rock sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp vegan fish sauce
  • 20 g / 0.04 lb Chinese cinnamon bark
  • 40 g / 0.08 lb ginger
  • 2 Bún Bò Huế Chay stock cubes
  • 10 g / 0.02 lb annatto seeds
  • 1/4 US cup cooking oil (for cooking the annatto seeds)

The Toppings

  • shiitake mushrooms
  • vegetarian fish balls
  • burdock gean
  • vegetarian ham
  • frozen yam

The Lemongrass Blend

  • 25 g / 0.06 lb lemongrass
  • 70 g / 0.15 lb chili (optional)
  • 1/2 US cup cooking oil
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • 1 tbsp vegan fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp honey

The Garnish

  • mint
  • Thai basil
  • green and purple cabbage
  • bean sprouts
  • lizard's tail

The Noodles

  • thick rice vermicelli


  • Cut the vegetables into large chunks and bring a large pot of water to boil. Put the vegetables in to simmer on high heat for 3 hours or until soft.
  • When the vegetables have started to soften, add the shiitake and lion's mane mushrooms and continue to cook for the remaining 2 hours. This will give it an extra depth of flavor.
  • Meanwhile, chop the lemongrass and chili into 1.5 cm (0.6") pieces and blitz them in a food processor until fine.
  • Add the oil to a pan on medium heat then brown the lemongrass and chili with the salt, vegan fish sauce, vegetable stock powder and honey. Transfer to a jar when done.
  • In the same pan, cook each topping in separate batches with 1/4 US cup of the lemongrass blend for 3 minutes each. Transfer to serving dishes when cooked.
  • While the stock is still simmering, cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and run under cold water until cool then transfer to a colander to drip dry.
    Tip: Stir the noodles every few minutes while cooking to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • When the vegetables have softened enough for a chopstick to pierce right through, scoop them out along with the mushrooms and add the coconut water along with 1 US cup of the lemongrass blend, the stock cubes, ginger, cinnamon bark, fish sauce, salt and rock sugar.
  • Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Thinly slice the mushrooms and transfer to a serving dish.
  • Heat up oil in a small pan and cook the annatto seeds on low heat for 1 minute or until it just starts to darken.
  • Pour the annatto seed oil into a sieve hovering over the vegetable stock and run it through broth until it no longer releases a red liquid.
  • Assemble your bowl with noodles, toppings, hot soup and the lemongrass blend then serve with fresh garnish and a squeeze of lime!


  • Use fresh seasonal produce. Every season will have its variety of fruit and vegetables that are at their prime. Take advantage of the best ones at the time and use them for your stock.
  • Cook the broth before all else. Not only does simmering for longer result in a more fragrant soup, it will also give you the chance to prepare the other ingredients while the stock is cooking in the background.
  • Be generous with the lemongrass. This dish is traditionally served with a small jar of the lemongrass blend for anyone to add extra flavor to their bowl, but it doesn't hurt to add a punch of aromatics as soon as you can!
  • The beauty of making your own stock is that you can use whichever fruit and vegetables you have on hand. We use a large quantity for our stock to make it sweeter, but you can certainly use less or switch them out for others like apples, corn, pear, Chinese cabbage or celery.
  • Mum also sources lion's mane mushrooms pre-prepared and pre-seasoned from a vegetarian shop, but they can be easily replaced with another flavorful variant like the shiitake mushroom.
  • We get all of these vegetarian sauces and spices from our local Asian supermarket, but they can also be found in Asian vegetarian specialty stores.
  • If the toppings aren't available in your region, you can simply use mushrooms instead. Enoki, king oyster, oyster, cup, swiss brown, portobello and straw mushrooms work wonderfully in this dish!
  • Adding chili is entirely optional. If you would like its flavor without the as much heat, remove the seeds first.
  • Use the thick round rice noodle, often labelled as 'rice vermicelli' on packets. These are easily found in Asian supermarkets.


Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3675mg | Potassium: 2538mg | Fiber: 28g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 9209IU | Vitamin C: 354mg | Calcium: 476mg | Iron: 6mg