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This vegan hot and sour soup is infused with lemongrass, tamarind juice, and pineapple for a wonderful harmony of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. Served with rice noodles, fried tofu, and plenty of greens, this is one of our favorite Vietnamese noodle soups!

Holding a bowl of hot and sour soup with rice noodles, tofu, and morning glory.

Introducing our favorite Vietnamese soup right before Bun Rieu and Bun Bo Hue: Bún Thái! This flavorful soup has a unique sweet and sour flavor with a hint of spiciness.

⭐️ Why You Should Try It

  • Perfectly seasoned. We made sure to season the broth to replicate the authentic Vietnamese taste. It’s a perfect blend of sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and a little bit of spiciness. The aroma is so captivating that it will take you straight to the bustling streets of Saigon. If you’ve ever tasted Bun Thai before, then you know exactly what we mean!
  • Warming and hearty. Thanks to its fragrant aroma and spicy notes, the broth will warm you up from the inside, leaving you satisfied and energized. It’s the perfect comfort dish on a chilly day!
  • Easy to make with minimal ingredients. The broth itself requires just 5 ingredients and a few seasonings. It comes together in less than 45 minutes and can be served as a simple soup or with add-ins such as rice noodles, tofu, greens, etc.

📘 What is Bún Thái

Although it may seem like Bún Thái comes from Thailand based on its name, it is actually a Vietnamese dish that originated in Saigon. It probably draws inspiration from Tom Yum but has been heavily adapted to fit Vietnamese palates.

The broth is traditionally made with chopped pineapple for sweetness, tomatoes and tamarind juice for sourness, and a combination of salt and sugar to balance all of the flavors.

Bún Thái can be found in many restaurants in Vietnam. It comes in both vegan and non-vegan versions and is also available as a hot pot dish called “Lẩu Thái.”

Ingredients like pineapple, lemongrass, mushrooms, fried tofu, and tamarind.

🍍 Ingredient Notes

Here are the ingredients that you will need to prepare the broth:

  • Lemongrass – Use fresh lemongrass stalks for optimal flavor. Lemongrass brings citrusy and floral notes. For plenty of flavor, we will use both whole lemongrass stalks and minced lemongrass. For the latter, you can use frozen minced lemongrass or thinly mince whole lemongrass.
  • Pineapple – Any pineapple will work as long as it is ripe and fresh.
  • Tomatoes – Use ripe tomatoes. Be aware that the tomato’s type and ripeness will affect the broth’s color.
  • Tamarind – Tamarind juice brings the signature flavor of this dish: the sourness. You can find seedless tamarind pulp online or in most Asian supermarkets. Want to learn more about this condiment? Check out our full guide on tamarind!
  • Mushrooms – Any mushrooms will work. I went with cremini mushrooms, which are easy to find, but straw mushrooms are usually used.
  • Salt and sugar – To season the broth. You can use granulated sugar, rock sugar, or coconut sugar. I do not recommend lowering the sugar amount as it helps balance the sourness of the tamarind.
  • Mushroom seasoning – Optional but highly recommended. For this recipe, I suggest using store-bought mushroom seasoning. It will add depth and help round up the overall flavor.
  • Chili – Use about 1/4 of a Thai chili to spice up the broth.

🥣 How to Make It

Make the tamarind juice

  1. Dilute the pulp. Add the tamarind pulp to a large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Using a wooden spoon, stir to dilute the pulp.
  2. Let it sit. Let the tamarind sit for about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the tamarind juice and discard the pulp. Set the juice aside.

Cook the broth

  1. Sauté the pineapple, tomatoes, and lemongrass. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pot. Once hot, add the minced lemongrass, sliced tomatoes, and pineapple. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.
  2. Add the mushrooms. Next, add the quartered mushrooms and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  1. Cover with water. Pour the water into the pot and add the lemongrass stalks.
  2. Pour in the tamarind juice. Then, add the tamarind juice to the broth and season with sugar, salt, and mushroom seasoning.
  3. Incorporate the add-ins. If using, add the fried tofu or vegan bologna. At this point, you can also add chopped morning glory, green beans, or your favorite greens.
  4. Let simmer. Bring the broth to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and let it simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Give it a taste and adjust the saltiness and sweetness if needed. Before serving, feel free to add a few slices of chopped Thai chili to spice up the broth.

Assemble

Once the broth is done, it’s time to prepare the additional ingredients that make up Bun Thai:

  1. Cook the noodles. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Traditionally, round rice noodles are used but any type will work. Once cooked, drain the noodles and divide them between serving bowls.
  2. Arrange the add-ins in serving bowls. Using a slotted spoon, add some mushrooms, fried tofu, pineapple, and greens to each bowl.
  3. Pour in the hot broth. Pour the piping hot broth into each bowl and garnish with Thai basil.
  4. Serve. Serve immediately with chopped chili on the side if you want to make the broth extra spicy.

📔 Tips

  • Crush the lemongrass. To help the lemongrass release as much flavor as possible, crush each stalk using the back of a knife.
  • Make it into a hotpot. You can easily double the broth to serve this dish as a hot pot.
  • Do not omit or substitute any ingredient. Although you can experiment with different add-ins, I advise you not to change the ingredients in the broth. The pineapple, lemongrass, and tamarind play a crucial role in achieving the authentic flavor of the dish.

🥬 What to Serve It With

Wondering what kind of additional ingredients you can add to your bowl of Bun Thai? Here are some ideas:

  • Noodles: Any type of noodle will work but I have a preference for rice noodles.
  • Greens: Morning Glory is often used, but steamed green beans or spinach are good alternatives. If using morning glory, I recommend adding it toward the beginning of cooking so it has time to absorb the flavors of the broth.
  • Plant-based protein: Tofu, vegan chicken, vegan bologna, or vegan sausages. Just like the greens, add these at the beginning of cooking.
  • Dumplings: While not traditional, you can add some boiled or fried dumplings for more texture.
  • Fresh herbs: Garnish with Thai basil, cilantro, or perilla leaves.
Vegan hot and sour soup with pineapple, tofu, morning glory, and bologna.

❄️ Storing and Reheating

  • To store: You can keep the broth in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To freeze: Once completely cool, transfer the broth (including the pineapple and tomatoes) to a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • To reheat: Reheat over medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until the broth is boiling.

💬 FAQ

Can I omit or substitute the tamarind?

Unfortunately no. Tamarind is a key ingredient in this dish and is mandatory.

Can I make this dish non-spicy?

Yes. You can simply omit the chili, the broth will still taste delicious!

Can I make the broth ahead of time?

Definitely. The broth tastes even better the next day.

I hope you will love this vegan hot and sour soup as much as we do! The combination of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors, coupled with the citrusy aroma of lemongrass, is simply amazing!

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

Hot and sour soup with tofu, rice noodles, and fresh herbs.
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Recipe

Vegan Hot and Sour Soup (Bún Thái)

5 from 2 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
This vegan hot and sour soup is infused with lemongrass, tamarind juice, and pineapple for a wonderful harmony of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. Served with rice noodles, fried tofu, and plenty of greens, this is one of our favorite Vietnamese noodle soups!
Prep Time : 15 minutes
Cook Time : 30 minutes
Total Time : 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
 

Tamarind juice

Broth

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
  • 1 medium tomato sliced into 1-inch thick slices
  • 1/4 pineapple peeled and cut into chunks (about 1 cup chunks)
  • 4-5 cremini mushrooms quartered
  • 2 lemongrass stalks slightly crushed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mushroom seasoning optional but recommended
  • 6 pieces fried tofu
  • 1/4 Thai chili finely sliced

Add-ins

  • cooked white rice noodles
  • a handful of Thai basil
  • vegan bologna or vegan sausages

Instructions
 

Tamarind juice

  • Dilute the pulp. Add the tamarind pulp to a large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Using a wooden spoon, stir to dilute the pulp. Let the tamarind sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Strain. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the tamarind juice and discard the pulp. Set the juice aside.

Broth

  • Sauté the pineapple, tomatoes, and lemongrass. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pot. Once hot, add the minced lemongrass, sliced tomatoes, and pineapple. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.
  • Next, add the quartered mushrooms and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  • Cover with water. Pour the water into the pot and add the lemongrass stalks.
  • Pour in the tamarind juice. Then, add the tamarind juice to the broth and season with sugar, salt, and mushroom seasoning.
  • Incorporate the add-ins. If using, add the fried tofu or vegan bologna. At this point, you can also add chopped morning glory, green beans, or your favorite greens.
  • Let simmer. Bring the broth to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and let it simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Give it a taste and adjust the saltiness and sweetness if needed. Before serving, feel free to add a few slices of chopped Thai chili to spice up the broth.

Assemble

  • Cook the noodles. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Traditionally, round rice noodles are used but any type will work. Once cooked, drain the noodles and divide them between serving bowls.
  • Arrange the add-ins in serving bowls. Using a slotted spoon, add some mushrooms, fried tofu, pineapple, and greens to each bowl.
  • Pour in the hot broth. Pour the piping hot broth into each bowl and garnish with Thai basil.
  • Serve. Serve immediately with chopped chili on the side if you want to make the broth extra spicy.

Notes

  • Crush the lemongrass. To help the lemongrass release as much flavor as possible, crush each stalk using the back of a knife.
  • Make it into a hotpot. You can easily double the broth to serve this dish as a hot pot.
  • Do not omit or substitute any ingredient. Although you can experiment with different add-ins, I advise you not to change the ingredients in the broth. The pineapple, lemongrass, and tamarind play a crucial role in achieving the authentic flavor of the dish.
Course : Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine : Asian, 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
I love Bún Thái but this vegan recipe bring a new taste for my family. Everyone liked it. Thank you for sharing.

5 stars
Hey, this bún thái chay recipe is fantastic. My sister and I tried it today, and we both loved it. We’re gonna make it again soon. Your recipes never disappoint us.

Happy New Year from Vietnam!

Looks delicious.
Where do you get the fried Tofu? Or do you prepare it yourself?
I only get fried Tofu in Asian stores that looks somehow disappointing.
Yours looks awesome.