Kid-friendly Faux Vietnamese Vegetable Pho with Nicey-Ricey Noodles in a Mug Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
over 1,000 kid-approved recipes coming soon! save your flavorites
Recipe: Faux Vietnamese Vegetable Pho with Nicey-Ricey Noodles in a Mug

Recipe: Faux Vietnamese Vegetable Pho with Nicey-Ricey Noodles in a Mug

Faux Vietnamese Vegetable Pho with Nicey-Ricey Noodles in a Mug

by Erin Fletter
Photo by New Africa/
prep time
15 minutes
cook time
3 minutes
1-1 servings

Fun Food Story

Skip to recipe

Faux Vietnamese Vegetable Pho with Nicey-Ricey Noodles in a Mug

"Pho" (pronounced "fuh") is the perfect recipe to cook in a mug because it's reminiscent of packaged ramen—something much of the world knows well and loves—and yet healthier and more fun to make. In Vietnam, it is common to see huge vats of bone broth simmering over the fire outside small alleyway restaurants. People in Vietnam eat bowls of pho and other noodle soups for breakfast, even on the hottest days of July. And if you sit down for pho in a restaurant, you'll be urged to slurp your soup while it's piping hot and stuff your bowl with a bundle of the freshest herbs you can imagine. 

Naturally gluten and dairy-free, pho can also be easily adapted to a vegetarian version, and that's what we're doing with this recipe. You can always add tofu for protein. The secret to making a quick "faux" pho broth taste real is the aromatics: we're keeping it simple with ginger, cinnamon, green onion, herbs, and star anise. Don't skip these, or else your vegetable pho is just vegetable soup!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • garnish :

    to decorate a dish or plate of food to enhance its flavor or appearance, using things like parsley, fruit slices, or edible flowers.

  • microwave :

    to heat or cook food or liquid quickly in a microwave oven, which uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the food's water molecules.

  • peel :

    to remove the skin or rind from something using your hands or a metal tool.

  • slice :

    to cut into thin pieces using a sawing motion with your knife.

  • soak :

    to immerse a hard food for a certain amount of time in a liquid to soften it.

  • steep :

    to soak a food, like tea, in water or other liquid so as to bring out its flavor.

Equipment Checklist

  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe mug
  • Potholder
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Metal spoon
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife (butter knife works great)
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Paper towel or dish towel
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Measuring spoons
  • Clean pair of kid-safe scissors
  • Colander
  • Fork or chopsticks
  • Soap for cleaning hands


Faux Vietnamese Vegetable Pho with Nicey-Ricey Noodles in a Mug

  • 2 oz dried flat white rice noodles, like Pad Thai noodles
  • 3/4 C vegetable broth
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root
  • 1 dried star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 medium-sized carrot
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 to 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 to 5 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce, optional


Faux Vietnamese Vegetable Pho with Nicey-Ricey Noodles in a Mug

soak + peel + slice

Soak 2 ounces of noodles in a large bowl of warm water. Soak while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Use a metal spoon to peel a 1 inch piece of ginger root, then slice the ginger into coins.

measure + microwave + steep

Measure and add enough vegetable broth to your mug to fill it 3/4 of the way, about 3/4 cup of broth. Add the ginger coins, 1 star anise, and 1 cinnamon stick to your mug and cover it with a dish towel or a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1 minute and leave in the microwave to steep while you finish prepping the rest of the ingredients.

slice + peel + remove

Slice 1 green onion into thin pieces. Peel the outer layer of 1 carrot and discard it. Then, peel the carrot into long, wide ribbons.

go fishing

Use a spoon to fish out the ginger, star anise, and cinnamon from your mug and discard them.

measure + drain + add

Measure and add 1/4 teaspoon salt to your mug and stir. Drain the soaked rice noodles in a colander and add them to your broth. If they don’t bend to fit inside the mug, snip them in half with a clean pair of kid scissors. Add the sliced green onions and carrot ribbons to your mug.

cover + microwave + garnish

Cover the mug with a damp paper towel or dish towel and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Carefully remove the mug with a potholder. Garnish with 4 to 5 basil leaves, 4 to 5 cilantro leaves, and optional 1 teaspoon of hoisin sauce! Yum!

Surprise Ingredient: Ginger!

back to recipe
Photo by kostrez/

Hi!  I’m Ginger!

"My name is Ginger, and I'm happy to make your acquaintance! You may have tasted me in lots of sweet foods and drinks, like gingerbread, ginger snap cookies, pumpkin pie, and ginger ale. But, I also add my unique flavor to savory dishes, like stir-fries and potstickers! If you use my fresh rhizome or root in a recipe, delicately peel my beige, papery skin (the back of a metal spoon works great!) and grate my juicy flesh into the food! I also come in a dried and ground form and as crystallized ginger. As a bonus, I might even make your tummy ache feel better!"


  • Ginger is a native plant of India and China and is a common cooking spice used throughout the world.
  • Ginger is one of the oldest plants used for medicine. 
  • Which spices do you think are most commonly found on kitchen tables around the world? If you said salt and pepper, you'd be right! It truly depends on where you are in the world. In the ninth century, Europeans placed powdered ginger on the table alongside salt and pepper.
  • A long, long time ago, ginger was used to preserve food and keep it from getting rotten.
  • Greeks used to eat ginger wrapped in bread to treat digestive problems. After a while, they added ginger to bread dough to create the first recipe for gingerbread! 
  • Ginger grows in many tropical countries, including the Caribbean islands. However, ginger from Jamaica is considered by many to be the best! Do you know where your ginger originated?
  • Ginger is also grown in Florida, Hawaii, and along the eastern coast of Texas.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Related to cardamom and turmeric, the ginger plant is part of the Zingiberaceae or Ginger family. We use the "rhizome" part of the plant, which are underground stems. Sometimes we can eat the rhizome part of a plant, and sometimes we can't! For example, bamboo plants are rooted underground by rhizomes, but the rhizome is not the part of the plant we eat—instead, we eat the bamboo shoots that come up out of the ground. But we do eat the rhizomes of plants such as ginger, turmeric, and arrowroot! 
  • Rhizomes are also the storage compartment of the plant. What do rhizomes store? Starches, proteins, and other nutrients—that's why we eat this part of the plant (because it's nutritious!).
  • Ginger Root is characterized by its aroma: it smells strong, sweet, and woodsy. Its skin is not something we eat—we peel the skin to reveal ginger's coarse, stringy, aromatic flesh.
  • The ginger plant looks like a reed and has been used in the kitchen and as medicine for the past 5,000 years. A ginger plant can reach three to four feet tall.
  • The word "ginger" comes from late Old English "gingifer," from medieval Latin "gingiber," from Greek "zingiberis," and from Pali, a Middle Indo-Aryan language "siṅgivera."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Fresh ginger is available year-round, where you can find it in the grocery store produce section.
  • When selecting fresh ginger, choose robust, firm roots that feel heavy, and have a spicy fragrance and smooth skin. 
  • Ginger root length is a sign of age, and mature rhizomes will be spicier and more fibrous than younger roots.
  • Ginger should not be cracked or withered—these are signs of aged ginger past its prime. 
  • To store ginger root, wrap it in a paper towel or plastic wrap or put it in a plastic bag before placing it in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. You can also freeze it for up to three months. 
  • According to many chefs and cooks, fresh ginger is best and can be added to sauces, soups, and stews. Dried and powdered ginger has a more spicy, intense flavor and is often used in baked desserts like gingerbread, gingersnaps, and ginger cake.
  • Ginger can be sliced, minced, grated, or left whole to steep in recipes (minced ginger has the most intense flavor). It can also be dried, pickled, crystallized, candied, or preserved.
  • Ginger tastes sweet, spicy, and pungent and increases flavor in a range of dishes, from stir-fried beef or tofu to ginger tea. 


  • Ginger continues to be used to treat nausea and to prevent seasickness.
  • Ginger may also have anti-inflammatory properties and increase digestive function.
  • Despite its natural properties, any medicinal use of ginger should be discussed with a doctor. Limiting the amount you take will help avoid heartburn. It may also interfere with anticoagulant medicine.


What is Pho?

Photo by Diep Hoang Hai/
  • "Pho" (Fuh) is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, various herbs (like cilantro and Thai basil), and beef or chicken. It is Vietnam's national dish. 
  • Pho was developed in northern Vietnam in the late 1800s or early 1900s, but its origins are unclear. Since both China and France ruled Vietnam at different times in its history, the dish may have been influenced by Chinese and French cooking. 
  • Rice noodles would have been introduced from China, and beef became more prevalent during French colonization, with beef bones creating a more flavorful broth.
  • Pho became more popular in the South after the North and South were partitioned in 1954, and many people from the North fled to the South. Southern-style pho has some variations from the northern version, with additional garnishes and hoisin sauce. 
  • After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Vietnamese refugees brought the dish to their new homes around the world. During the 1990s and 2000s, pho restaurants opened up throughout the United States.

Let's Learn About Vietnam!

Photo by Le Manh Thang/
  • The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is in Southeast Asia. Its government is a Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic. China is on Vietnam's northern border, Cambodia and Laos border it to the west, the Gulf of Thailand is southwest, and the South China Sea borders it on the south and east. The country is long, narrow, and shaped like an "S." At its most narrow point, it is only 30 miles wide.
  • Vietnam's total area is 331,699, and the population in 2019 was over 96 million. Hanoi is the capital city, and Ho Chi Minh City is the largest. 
  • The national language is Vietnamese, and French is spoken as a second language by many older, educated residents of former South Vietnam due to French colonial rule. Minority groups may speak different languages in various parts of the country. English is also frequently taught in schools.
  • The Vietnamese language has six different tones. The meaning of a word will change with a change in tone. This makes their language somewhat challenging to learn.
  • Vietnam has been under the rule of other countries throughout its history, first under China from 111 BCE until 939 CE, when an independent dynasty appeared. The French colonized Vietnam in 1887. Then, in 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared independence from France. However, France claimed power again during the First Indochina War, but Vietnam was victorious in 1954. The Vietnam War began soon after, and the country was divided into communist North Vietnam and anti-communist South Vietnam. After the war, which the North won in 1975, the country was reunified as a socialist state.
  • Vietnam exports the most black pepper and cashews in the world and is the second-largest exporter of rice and coffee.
  • There are several floating fishing villages in Halong Bay on the northeastern coast of Vietnam. Boats and houseboats are tied together, where people live, work, shop, and go to school, so inhabitants rarely have to put their feet on land.  
  • Due to the narrow streets and expensive cars and taxes, Vietnam has about 50 million motorbikes on the roads every day. Some people have two motorbikes, one for work and one for pleasure. 
  • Popular sports are football (soccer), table tennis (ping-pong), volleyball, badminton, and martial arts. 
  • Vietnamese cuisine consists of five basic tastes (elements): bitter (fire), salty (water), sour (wood), spicy (metal), and sweet (earth). It is known for its fresh, healthy ingredients, and rice is a staple, as it is in many Asian countries. Spring rolls, "pho" ("fuh"), a dish with noodles, broth, herbs, and meat, and "banh mi," a sandwich on a baguette filled with meat, cucumber, cilantro, and pickled veggies, are three well-known Vietnamese dishes found in the United States.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Vietnam?

  • Family is very important in Vietnam, and children may live with their parents and grandparents, and maybe even aunts and uncles. 
  • Since children make up almost a quarter of the population, schools are overcrowded, and the school day may be either a morning or afternoon shift six days a week. School uniforms are required. Primary school is required from ages six to eleven, and after exams, it is determined whether a student will go on to a secondary school or a vocational school. 
  • Kids who live in rural parts of the country may need to help with crops or livestock, and you might see them leading or riding domesticated animals, like water buffalo. 
  • Sports they participate in include soccer, badminton, tennis, karate, swimming, and cycling. In addition, kids may play group games like Cat and Mouse or Dragon and Snake or board games like "O an quan."
  • Kids may eat similar things for breakfast and lunch, such as pho, spring rolls, or banh mi, although they may eat oatmeal or pastries for breakfast in the cities. 

That's Berry Funny

Where do Sticky Fingers Cooking chefs live? 

In gingerbread houses, of course!

Lettuce Joke Around

A skeleton walks into a restaurant and says…  

"Waiter, I'll have a ginger ale and a mop."

That's Berry Funny

How did the gardener mend his trousers? 

With a vegetable patch!

That's Berry Funny

What is worse than finding a worm in the apple that you are eating? 

A half of a worm in your noodle soup!

Lettuce Joke Around

What did one soup lover say to another?

"I'm crazy pho noodle soup!"

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the teacher say to the student when he saw him using lightsaber chopsticks to eat his ramen?

"Use the forks (force)."


THYME for a Laugh

What would you get if you crossed pasta with a snake?

Spaghetti that wraps itself around a fork!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do vegetables like to drink? 

Ginger ale!

The Yolk's On You

What do you call a fake noodle? 

An impasta!

Shop Our Cookbooks

Now available on Amazon! Our cookbooks feature kid-tested recipes that build confidence in the kitchen. Expand your child's palate and spark a love of healthy foods with a Sticky Fingers Cooking cookbook.

The Perfect Gift

Give the awesomely delicious and amazingly fun gift of Sticky Fingers Cooking to your favorite kids.

Subscribe to the Sticky Fingers Cooking mailing list

Subscribe to our newsletter, The Turnip, to receive exclusive discounts and updates, insider tips + tricks from our awesome team, and instant access to the Sticky Fingers Cooking Starter Kit for free!

Souper popular!
16 people registered for a session in the last 24 hours