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Vegan Bun Rieu (Bún riêu chay) is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup prepared with a sweet and tangy tomato broth and served with rice noodles, mushrooms, tofu, and fresh herbs. This unique noodle soup is a symphony of flavors and texture. Its aromatic broth will transport you to the streets of Vietnam!

⭐️ Why You Should Try It

  • Packed with intense flavors. The rich and flavorful tomato broth sets Bun Rieu apart from other Vietnamese soups, making it a must-try. It is truly unique and offers a blend of sweetness, tanginess, and saltiness.
  • Hearty and warming. If you are looking for a soup to warm you up during the colder days, you will love Bun Rieu! It’s the kind of soup that provides both satisfaction and comfort, like a warm hug in Winter.
  • It’s a great way to use leftover soy milk. If you regularly make soy milk at home and happen to have leftovers, make Bun Rieu! This recipe uses soy milk as a base to create bean curds that resemble minced crab.

📘 What is Bun Rieu

Bún riêu is a Vietnamese noodle soup prepared with pork and tomato broth and served with minced crab, rice noodles, fried tofu, mortadella, and fresh vegetables. It’s among the most popular Vietnamese soups, alongside Pho and Bun Bo Hue.

Bún riêu originated in Nothern Vietnam and was later introduced to the South, where it evolved from its original recipe. While the Nothern version uses vinegar to add tanginess, the Southern version uses tamarind. They also include additional meats, vegetables, and herbs. The vegetarian version of this soup is called “Bún riêu chay,” chay meaning vegetarian in Vietnamese.

Please note: This recipe has been adapted to use easy-to-find and affordable ingredients outside Asia. Traditionally, Bun Rieu chay includes perilla leaves, vegan shrimp paste, shaved morning glory, and other add-ins. If you have access to these, feel free to include them. Otherwise, omit them. It will still taste delicious.

🍅 Ingredient Notes

Here are the ingredients that you will need to make vegetarian Bun Rieu:

  • Soy milk – Preferably homemade soy milk. Otherwise, use store-bought soy milk that contains only soybeans and water. Other types of soy milk will not curdle.
  • Tamarind juice – It helps the soy milk curdle and gives the broth a hint of sourness, which is one of the flavor profiles of authentic Bun Rieu. To make tamarind juice, you will have to dilute tamarind paste in hot water. If you don’t have tamarind, you can use lime juice.
  • Annatto oil – Annatto oil is used here to give the broth an orange/red hue. It doesn’t affect the flavor, so if you don’t have it, simply omit it. You can learn how to make annatto oil here.
  • Tomatoes – Use ripe tomatoes for a sweeter broth.
  • Mushrooms – Any mushroom works. I went with cremini mushrooms, but oyster, portobello, or Chanterelle mushrooms will work too.
  • Sugar and salt – To season the broth.
  • Vegan fish sauce – For extra umami and saltiness, stir in a teaspoon of vegan fish sauce. If you don’t have fish sauce, add extra salt.
  • Mushroom seasoning – To round up the overall flavor. You can use store-bought mushroom seasoning or homemade mushroom seasoning.
  • Noodles – Use thin and round rice noodles (called bun). Again, if you can’t find this type of noodle, feel free to use what you have on hand.
  • Tofu – Fried tofu works best here as it soaks up the flavors of the broth. You can replace it with vegan pork or vegan chicken.
  • Fresh herbs – Cilantro and green onions for freshness.

🥣 How to Make It

1. Make the tamarind juice

  1. Cover the tamarind paste with water. Add the tamarind paste to a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Use a spoon to break down the tamarind into small pieces.
  2. Let it rest. Let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes.
  3. Strain. Use a fine-sieve mesh to strain the tamarind juice. Discard the pulp and set the tamarind juice aside.

2. Curdle the soy milk

The next step of this recipe consists of curling the soy milk with the tamarind juice.

Why curdle the milk? Since Bun Rieu is a crab noodle soup, we will use soybean curds (similar to tofu) to replace the crab. Obviously, it will taste different, but the texture is quite close.

  1. Heat the milk. Add the soy milk to a deep pot and heat it over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.
  2. Stir in the tamarind juice. Add the tamarind juice and give it a quick stir to combine.
  1. Let simmer. Let simmer gently for another 3 minutes. Do not bring it to a high boil.
  1. Check the consistency. After 3-4 minutes, the curds will have separated from the soy milk. You will end up with curds and soy milk juice. As you can see below, the soy milk should be almost transparent. This means the curds have separated entirely from the soy milk.

3. Strain and press the curds

  1. Strain. Use a slotted or large wooden spoon to remove the bean curds from the soy milk juice.
  2. Press the curds. Transfer the bean curds to a fine-sieve mesh and press them using a spoon until almost no water remains. The goal is to create a mass that holds together, although it will be a bit crumbly (like tofu). Important note: keep the soy milk juice, as we will use it later.
  3. Set aside. Transfer the bean curd to a bowl and set aside while you prepare the broth.

4. Cook the broth

  1. Sauté the tomatoes and mushrooms. Heat the annatto oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the quartered tomatoes and mushrooms. Sauté for 3-5 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.
  2. Pour in the soy milk juice. Add the soy milk juice, water, sugar, salt, vegan fish sauce, and fried tofu to the pot.
  1. Let simmer. Bring the broth to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes covered.
  2. Add the bean curds. Crumble the bean curds into large pieces and add them to the broth (it is okay if it crumbles into small chunks too). Let simmer for 2-3 more minutes.
  3. Taste. Once the broth has simmered, give it a try and adjust the sweetness and saltiness to your liking.

5. Assemble

Finally, it’s time to assemble your bowls! To do so:

  1. Cook the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package’s instructions. Drain them well.
  2. Divide into bowls. Divide the cooked noodles between three deep serving bowls.
  3. Cover with the broth. Using a ladle, pour the hot broth with some mushrooms, bean curds, tomatoes, and tofu into each bowl.
  4. Garnish. Before serving, garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro!

📔 Tips

  • Use homemade soy milk. While this recipe also works with store-bought soy milk, we had the best results using homemade soy milk. If using store-bought, ensure you pick soy milk containing only two ingredients: soybeans and water. Be aware that each brand gives different results.
  • Press the bean curds tightly. Doing this will prevent it from crumbling too much when added to the broth.
  • Add shallots. For extra flavor, feel free to sauté one minced shallot with the tomatoes and mushrooms.

🥬 Add-ins

This noodle soup is versatile, so feel free to play with the toppings! You can add:

❄️ Storing and Reheating

  • To store: You can keep the broth in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Assemble everything right before serving. I do not recommend keeping the noodles in the broth. Noodles should be cooked and added to each bowl before pouring the broth.
  • To reheat: Reheat the broth over medium heat for 5-8 minutes or until piping hot.

💬 FAQ

Can I make the broth ahead of time?

Yes, the broth can be made up to 4 days ahead.

Can I make the broth without using soy milk?

Yes, you can replace the soy milk with water and skip the curdling step. Be aware that it will taste a bit different, though. Do not omit the tamarind juice, though, as it gives the broth flavor.

The soy milk didn’t curdle. What happened?

If your soy milk didn’t curdle after adding the tamarind juice, it’s probably because of the soy milk used. Do not use soy milk containing preservatives, gums, or emulsifiers.

I hope you are going to love this Vietnamese noodle soup as much as we do! It’s cozy and filling and packs bold flavors!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

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Recipe

Vegan Bun Rieu (Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup)

5 from 2 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
Vegan Bun Rieu (Bún riêu chay) is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup prepared with a sweet and tangy tomato broth and served with rice noodles, mushrooms, tofu, and fresh herbs. This unique noodle soup is a symphony of flavors and texture.
Prep Time : 30 minutes
Cook Time : 20 minutes
Total Time : 50 minutes
Servings 3 servings
Calories 552 kcal

Ingredients
 

Tamarind Juice

Bun Rieu

  • 4 cups homemade soy milk
  • 3 tbsp annatto oil
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes quartered
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms quartered or sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vegan fish sauce
  • 1/8 tsp mushroom seasoning optional
  • 3-4 pieces fried tofu

For Serving

  • 6 ounces uncooked rice noodles
  • 3 tbsp chopped green onions
  • chopped cilantro
  • lettuce leaves

Instructions
 

Tamarind Juice

  • Cover the tamarind paste with water. Add the tamarind paste to a small bowl and cover with 1/3 cup of boiling water. Use a spoon to break down the tamarind into small pieces. Let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes.
  • Strain. Use a fine-sieve mesh to strain the tamarind juice. Discard the pulp and set the tamarind juice aside.

Bun Rieu

  • Curdle the soy milk. Add the soy milk to a deep pot and heat it over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.
    Stir in the tamarind juice. Add the tamarind juice and give it a quick stir to combine.
  • Let simmer. Let simmer gently for another 3 minutes. Do not bring it to a high boil. After 3-4 minutes, the curds will have separated from the soy milk. You will end up with curds and soy milk juice.
  • Strain. Use a slotted or large wooden spoon to remove the bean curds from the soy milk juice.
  • Press the curds. Transfer the bean curds to a fine-sieve mesh and press them using a spoon until almost no water remains. The goal is to create a mass that holds together, although it will be a bit crumbly (like tofu). Important note: keep the soy milk juice, as we will use it later.
  • Set aside. Transfer the bean curd to a bowl and set aside while you prepare the broth.
  • Sauté the tomatoes and mushrooms. Heat the annatto oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the quartered tomatoes and mushrooms. Sauté for 3-5 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.
  • Pour in the soy milk juice. Add the soy milk juice, water, sugar, salt, vegan fish sauce, mushroom seasoning, and fried tofu to the pot.
  • Let simmer. Bring the broth to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes covered.
  • Add the bean curds. Crumble the bean curds into large pieces and add them to the broth (it is okay if it crumbles into small chunks too). Let simmer for 2-3 more minutes.
  • Taste. Once the broth has simmered, give it a try and adjust the sweetness and saltiness to your liking.

To Assemble

  • Cook the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package’s instructions. Drain them well.
  • Divide into bowls. Divide the cooked noodles between three deep serving bowls.
  • Cover with the broth. Using a ladle, pour the hot broth with some mushrooms, bean curds, tomatoes, and tofu into each bowl.
  • Garnish. Before serving, garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro!

Notes

    • Use homemade soy milk. While this recipe also works with store-bought soy milk, we had the best results using homemade soy milk. If using store-bought, ensure you pick soy milk containing only two ingredients: soybeans and water. Be aware that each brand gives different results.
    • Press the bean curds tightly. Doing this will prevent it from crumbling too much when added to the broth.
    • Add shallots. For extra flavor, feel free to sauté one minced shallot with the tomatoes and mushrooms.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 552 kcal | Carbohydrates: 66.8 g | Protein: 20.3 g | Fat: 23.7 g | Saturated Fat: 3.1 g | Sodium: 1430 mg | Potassium: 509 mg | Fiber: 6.3 g | Sugar: 13.9 g | Calcium: 95 mg | Iron: 2 mg
Course : Soup, Stew
Cuisine : Vietnamese
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

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5 stars
Looks appetissant. I’ll try it this weekend. Thank you for sharing.

wow i thought the curd making was most unique ! especially with tamarind !
Cant wait to give this a try – thankyou

5 stars
Wonderful meal! I am used to making thick creamy veggie soups. I have had soups like this recipe in restaurants but this is the first time I have made a soup like this at home. Thanks again for yet another amazing meal:-)