Hot Bánh Canh Chay (Vegetarian Tapioca Noodle Soup)

Our most searched for tapioca noodle soup is now VEGETARIAN in this Bánh Canh Chay! It’s simmered long and slow using a homemade vegetable stock for a wonderfully fragrant broth.

For a chicken version, try our Bánh Canh Gà or a seafood variation in this Bánh Canh Cua!

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Banh canh chay in a bowl with chopsticks in the bowl

A light broth that soothes the soul

When it comes to staple Vietnamese noodle soups, there are two things that are a MUST – (1) a clear, sweet broth with a crisp flavor and (2) a perfectly seasoned soup full of savoriness.

If you try Mum’s Bánh Canh Chay, you’ll get all of that and more. We don’t simmer vegetables for hours for no reason. The idea of a bland, tasteless soup will be completely knocked out when you try the first spoonful filled with deep vegetable flavor.

You’ll not only have the pleasure of enjoying a light and nutritious soup, the tapioca noodles will soak up every drop of seasoning as you slurp them right up!

And if I haven’t convinced you yet, just remember one thing: It’s all in the broth.

Whether you’re feeling the heat waves of Summer or cozying up to a cold Winter, this Bánh Canh Chay is the perfect dish to suit every occasion!

Why this recipe works

  • Slowcooking the vegetables means the broth will be naturally sweet without the need for sugar.
  • Stir frying mushrooms gives the broth an extra flavor boost.
  • Adding coconut water keeps the soup light and fresh.

What you’ll need

The Broth

About the vegetables

The types and amount of vegetables we use is to achieve a naturally sweet broth. If you prefer other vegetables or would like to use fruit (E.G. apples or pears), they will also work well.

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We also buy pre-prepared lion’s mane mushrooms from our local vegetarian shop, but if that’s unavailable then shiitake mushrooms are just as tasty.

The Toppings

About the toppings

You can find assorted mushrooms in Asian supermarkets sold separately or in pre-assorted packets. Our selection includes fresh king oyster, shiitake, enoki and oyster mushrooms but if you prefer other types, they can be used instead.

Vegetarian ham can be found in Asian specialty vegetarian stores in the freezer section. If it is unavailable, you can simply skip this ingredient.

The Garnish

About the herbs

We buy coriander from Asian supermarkets in the fresh produce section. They are often sold in bundles.

The Noodles

About the noodles

We use precooked tapioca noodles delivered fresh to our local grocery store, but you can find uncooked versions as well. They will not be transparent like the cooked ones. Instead, they’ll be white with a powder on them.

How to make this recipe

Wash the vegetables in cold water until they are free of dirt. For the cabbage, soak them in lightly salted water and rinse 2-3 times.

Bring the pot of water to a boil and add the stock vegetables in along with the rehydrated mushrooms. Let the water come back to a boil, then turn the heat to low to simmer for 3 hours or until the vegetables are soft.

When the vegetables are soft, scoop them out using a sieve and pour in the coconut water.

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Cut the toppings into smaller pieces to a size of your preference.

Add the salt, vegetable stock powder, vegetarian fish sauce and fried tofu in to season the soup.

Heat up a saucepan with oil and stir fry the fresh mushrooms with the vegetable stock powder.

Pour the cooked mushrooms into the broth pot.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the tapioca noodles for 5 minutes or until just loosened from a clump.

Note: These noodles are already cooked, so putting them in hot water just helps to separate each strand. Use a spatula to gently ease them apart.

To serve Bánh Canh Chay, put the tapioca noodles in a bowl along with the toppings and heated soup. Garnish with chopped coriander, chili and a squeeze of lemon juice!


Tips for the best results

  • Cook the mushrooms in the broth. This will make it much sweeter with a richer base flavor.
  • Simmer using a low to medium heat. As with any stock, boiling over a high heat for long periods of time will turn the liquid murky.
  • Use dehydrated mushrooms for the stock and fresh ones for the toppings. Rehydrated mushrooms have a much stronger taste which works well for a soup base.
Banh canh chay in a bowl with a hand holding a spoon and chopsticks

More great vegetarian recipes

  • Bún Bò Huế Chay (Vegetarian Spicy Noodle Soup) – This is a fragrant and robust favorite full of lemongrass flavor.
  • Bún Riêu Chay (Vegetarian Tomato Noodle Soup) – Homey and light, you’ll love the tang that comes with this recipe.
  • Braised Bean Curd with Mushrooms – For an easy and earthy side dish with classic Cantonese flavors try Mum’s braised tofu. It’s always a winner!
  • Buddha’s Delight (Lo Han Jai 罗汉斋) – Grandma’s famous Lunar New Year vegetable stew is perfect for every occasion.
  • Easy Lemongrass Tofu – If you’re running low on time, you’ll get a fresh flavor kick out of this recipe with only a handful of ingredients.

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