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Beef Pho Soup or Vietnamese Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

Beef Pho Soup or Vietnamese Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

people icon For 6 euro icon € 1.4 /pers. calories icon 185 kcal/100g


  • For the broth: 2 beef bones
  • 1 medium onion
  • fresh ginger
  • cinnamon stick
  • Black or green cardamom
  • 2 nails
  • Star anise
  • Cilantro
  • Fennel
  • Chili pepper (optional)
  • For the soup: 400 g of beef cut into very thin strips
  • 400g. noodles or rice noodles
  • 100g. of bean sprouts
  • 200g. of beef for the meatballs
  • Salt to taste
  • To plate and accompany: Basil and fresh cilantro
  • Lime

Pho soup is one of the most exquisite recipes in Vietnam . It is a very popular dish that you can eat every day in most restaurants, and it is even very common to find it in the thousands of street stalls where they serve this soup for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

It is a nutritious, light and hot soup, whose magic lies in the very slow cooking time, but once it is put on the heat it is a matter of waiting. It is based on a typical rice noodle soup or noodles , served in a bowl. These noodles are mainly accompanied by a beef broth, although it can also be made with chicken, with small elongated pieces of meat.

Like everything, it has countless variations from the most traditional with beef (today’s recipe called Pho Bo ) or with organ meats such as tendons, tripe or minced meat in the form of meatballs. This chicken soup (Pho Ga) with chicken thighs or breasts or even other chicken organs (heart, liver, etc.) is also very well known .

The dish is usually garnished with a multitude of ingredients such as chives, or white onions, coriander leaves, mint , basil, lemon, soy, pepper…… These are usually offered on a separate plate so that the diner can choose according to their preferences. And all this is seasoned with different sauces such as Hoisin sauce , fish sauce , Sriracha sauce … Another perfect soup recipe to succeed at home, today with an exotic touch, different from what you are used to.

Preparation of Pho soup broth

  1. We put all the broth ingredients in the oven on a tray at 180º C for 20 minutes, covered with aluminum foil. Both the bones, the onion and the ginger will begin to brown and take on color, which will give a perfect tone to the soup, while we will obtain all its aroma from the spices.
  2. Once baked, we put them in a pot with a liter of boiling water, add salt and let it boil for approximately an hour. During this time it is possible that foam may be generated, which we will remove.
  3. When it has boiled for the necessary time we have to strain the broth, the ideal would be to do it with a fine cloth to leave the broth as clear as possible, which is one of its hallmarks.
  4. We can save a lot of time by doing this process in the pressure cooker, it is not the traditional way but I assure you that the broth is also very delicious. We just have to fry the bones in a little oil and add the rest of the ingredients, close the pot with the water and cook for only 15 minutes. We will have an express broth for our soup.

Preparation of Pho soup and presentation

  1. We make small beef meatballs with the minced meat and a pinch of salt. We shape it (the size of a large marble) and reserve.
  2. We put the broth back into the pot, adjust the salt if necessary and bring it back to a boil, at which point we add the noodles and meatballs. Let it boil for 2 or 3 minutes depending on its thickness. Finally, we add the sliced ​​meat, boil again and serve accompanied by the basil and limes.
  3. So that the meat is tender and cooks almost instantly, we must cut it very thin, similar to a carpaccio. With the heat of the soup itself it will be done quickly.
  4. When it comes time to eat it, once we have the bowl with our soup and all the accompaniments next to it, we can either pour the sauces directly over the soup or put them together in a small bowl and dip the pieces of meat and vegetables.
  5. I like to prepare my bowl with a little bit of everything, and an extra bean sprout, which gives it a crunchy touch. And flavored by cilantro and basil, but that is to the taste of each house. Despite the countless spices that we can find in the soup, it is not strong at all. Its flavor is mild and very tasty.

You can see all the step-by-step photos of the pho bo soup recipe in this album. Don’t miss any details so that it turns out perfect.

Pho Soup Varieties

There are two most typical versions of Pho soup in terms of ingredients:

  • “Pho Ga” with chicken
  • “Pho Bo” with beef  

But also, depending on the area of ​​origin in Vietnam, the accompaniments can vary a little. Mainly we can say that the one made in the south and possibly the best known, has more accompaniments such as sauces, herbs, vegetables… while the one from the north is barely accompanied by lime and a little cayenne pepper.

But what makes Pho soup special?

There are two characteristics that make it a unique noodle soup:

  1. One of them is that their soup is very clear, which they achieve by first boiling the bones for 5 minutes, removing their impurities and renewing the water and then cooking them over low heat with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. The second is its smoky flavor, when you put the onion, shallot and ginger… on the grill, they will burn a little on the outside, but we remove those burned parts with a knife, leaving only a little bit, and we will get a very original point of smoky flavor of our Pho soup.

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