Sunday, February 24, 2013

33 #SundaySupper - Beef Pho Soup

In the past month, Virginia weather has ranged from early spring weather to cold disgusting winter weather. All the better reason to have a good soup recipe ready to eat under some nice warm blankets from the comfort of your home. This week Sunday Supper is bringing you soup recipes to warm your body and soul.

My recipe this week is pho soup. For those who aren't familiar, pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with either beef or chicken. It is a flavorful broth infused with Vietnamese spices, and served with noodles, beef, and fresh garnish. The beef is sliced very thin and added raw to the hot broth, which cooks the meat in a matter of minutes.I was introduced to it when I moved to D.C. and fell in love with it.

One of the keys to a good pho is a stock made from beef bones. One of the tricks to creating a clear soup is to parboil the bones. By boiling the bones for a couple minutes before creating the stock, all of the heavy grease and impurities are boiled out of the bones. The picture above shows the bones halfway through parboil, and as you can see the water is already fairly cloudy. 

Another easy method of enhancing the flavor in the soup is to lightly toast the spices before adding them to the broth. This brings out the aromatics in the spices, and releases some of the oils. By placing them in a cheesecloth bag before adding to the soup, it makes removal of the spices a lot easier.

A good pho also needs quality garnishes to add flavor to the soup. Before adding the noodles and beef to the soup, I like to prepare my cilantro, green onion, and onion so that I don't have to chop these while the broth cools. Fresh basil, bean sprouts, lime, and peppers (I don't have them pictured because I don't like adding peppers to mine) are wonderful to serve on the side so people can add what they want to the soup for more flavor.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time 4 hours to overnight
Cook Time 2 1/2 hours, 10 minutes when reheating broth

Broth Ingredients
2 pounds beef bones
4 quarts water
1 onion, quartered
1 3 inch piece of ginger root, quartered
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp anise seeds
2 tsp whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup fish sauce

Ingredients per Soup Bowl
1 cup of rice noodles
10 slices of thinly cut beef sirloin
1 handful of cilantro
2 thin slices of onion
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Garnish per Soup Bowl
2 lime quarters
handful of bean sprouts
3-4 leaves fresh basil

In a soup pot, cover the bones with water. Bring the water to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the pot, and transfer the bones to a strainer. Rinse with warm water to get residual gunk off the bones. Clean the inside of the pot of any residue. Return the bones to the pot and add the 4 quarts water. Set aside.

Set the oven to broil, place the onion and ginger onto a pan and cook in the broiler for 5 minutes, until slightly charred. Add the onion and ginger to the pot. 

On a pan without any oil or grease, roast the seeds, cinnamon, and cloves over medium heat for 5 minutes. Transfer the spices to a cheesecloth sheet and tie with a knot. Set aside. 

Bring the stock base to a boil. Once boiling, add the spice bag, salt, and sauce to the pot. Reduce to medium heat and cover with a top. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

Once the simmering is done, remove the bones, spice bag, ginger, and onions from the pot. Let the soup cool to room temperature and then transfer it to the refrigerator for 4 hours to overnight. This will let the oil coagulate on top of the broth so you can remove it with a spoon. 

Once you are ready to serve, remove the soup from the refrigerator and reheat over medium heat. You want to heat it to about a minute or two before it begins to boil. While the soup reheats, prepare your rice noodles per the manufacturer's instructions. Be sure to rinse the noodles in warm water after they are cooked. When you are ready to assemble the soup, place the noodles in the bottom of the large soup bowl, and place the raw beef on top of the noodles. Add soup broth to the bowl, until the soup covers the meat. Add the scallions, cilantro, and onion to the soup. Serve with the garnish to the side, and enjoy!

Be sure to check out everyone's soup recipes for this week's Sunday Supper. Be sure to join us at 7pm EST tonight to participate in our twitter chat. Search for #sundaysupper for the discussion!

Do The Chicken Dance (chicken {or other poultry} soups)

Where’s The Beef (Beef Soups)

Pass The Pork. Please (Pork or Sausage Soups)

Under The Sea (Seafood Soups)

Eat Your Veggies (Chock Full o’ Vegetables Soups)

Some Don’t Like It Hot (Chilled Soups)


  1. I hear so much about pho but have never had it! This recipe makes me want to run to our local international market and grab everything I need.

  2. What a wonderful combination of flavors you have going on in this soup! Very creative!

  3. I love love love Pho! I have never tried to make it. I can not wait to try now with your recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Before I tried to make it I was definitely intimidated, I assumed it would be a really intense process. My first attempt I didn't parboil the bones (I normally use chicken bones for most homemade broths, didn't realize beef bones could have so much residue) so it didn't turn out so well. After tweaking the recipe to include a parboil, it worked out way better!

  4. I love pho and I hear DC/NoVa and some of the best. I've never made it, but I love the simplicity of your recipe...will have to try it soon!

    1. There are so many amazing Pho restaurants in the area, my favorite has to be the one in Little Vietnam, such an amazing soup!

  5. This is one of my daughter's favorite's thanks for the recipe!

  6. I have had pho once, and it wasn't my favorite. I can't vouch for the place I had it at though. It looks wonderful, guess I need to try it at home instead!

  7. I love Pho soups but have never made one, thanks for the recipe!!

  8. I heard a lot about this soup but it was all up in the air. I like the way you explain what it´s about. It sounds amazing! I´m definitely making this.

  9. Ironically the first time I had pho was after we moved to Washington DC too! I've never thought of making it at home but your recipe is really approachable.

  10. Pho is very tasty and it looks like you've made a great version of it.

  11. I love a good pho. Very common around Silicon Valley. Now I'll have to try to make it.

  12. I haven't seen beef bones in the stores since I was a kid. I bet they made a wonderful broth for your soup.

  13. My family LOVES Pho, but we haven't had it in ages since our go-to joint closed. Now I can make it :-)

  14. Great minds think alike. :) I love pho and I'm so impressed that you went the long route and boiled the bones for your own broth. Someday I plan to tackle this version!

  15. My entire family loves Pho and we eat it often, never at home so and always at one of our many Vietnamese restaurants here in PDX. I am so excited that you shared a recipe now I can make it at home :) ~ Bea @ Galactosemia in PDX

  16. Pho is the one thing I must have when I have a cold. I love it and I believe it has healing qualities. Now that I have a recipe I won't have to go out to get it. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Agreed! I love having pho in place of chicken noodle soup.

  18. It's really not as taxing as you would think! But sometimes it is frustrating when the grocery store doesn't have any spare bones!

  19. oh my goodness! Can I say how much I LOVE that you made Pho?! And hot damn, you made it the right way. . all I can say is wow, thank you! and bravo!!! Love this!!

  20. Thanks! I definitely had to experiment with it a bit to figure out the best way. The first two attempts did not go so well. One of them I didn't parboil the bones and I wasn't satisfied with the broth. Another I didn't put the spices into a cheesecloth bag and it made straining such a pain.

  21. I have enjoyed Pho out but have never made it at home.... looking forward to trying this awesome recipe!

  22. I love Pho. Going out for Pho was something we did every week in College. I have never made it at home but I can't wait to.

  23. Same! I didn't start eating it until post-college, but fell in love with it.

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