Fresh Beef Pho Soup – Traditional Vietnamese Dish

Indulging in a bowl of beef pho soup is a soul-stirring experience. Originating from Vietnam, this traditional dish has taken the world by storm. Its delicate broth, simmered for hours, unites with tender slices of beef

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beef pho soup

Fresh herbs, rice noodles, and a dash of lime complete the symphony. Every spoonful is a journey through rich flavors and aromatic spices, all lovingly combined to tantalize the taste buds. 

Dive into this vibrant culinary adventure. Savory, wholesome, and steeped in tradition, beef pho soup is not just a meal; it’s an embrace of culture.

Experience this cherished Vietnamese treasure and let your senses dance in delight. 

Whether you’re a culinary novice or a seasoned food lover, beef pho will captivate your palate and warm your heart.

What Is Beef Pho Soup?

Beef pho soup is a traditional Vietnamese dish renowned for its aromatic broth made by simmering beef bones and spices like star anise and cinnamon.

Paired with thin rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, and fresh herbs such as basil and cilantro, it’s a comforting and flavorful meal. 

The combination of textures and tastes makes it a beloved choice for many, symbolizing the unique culinary tradition of Vietnam.

History Of Beef Pho Soup 

The history of beef pho soup is intertwined with Vietnam’s cultural and culinary evolution. Emerging in the early 20th century in Northern Vietnam, it fused local traditions with French and Chinese influences. 

The name “pho” likely comes from the French dish “pot-au-feu,” hinting at the French colonial impact on its creation.

The migration of people from North to South Vietnam during the mid-century led to variations in the dish. 

Beef pho became a staple street food, resonating with people from all walks of life. Its international recognition grew with the Vietnamese diaspora, making it a global culinary sensation.

Interesting Facts About The Beef Pho Soup 

  • Regional Variations: Northern and Southern Vietnam have distinct versions of beef pho. The Northern style is simpler and purer in flavor, while the Southern style incorporates more herbs and sweetness.
  • Eaten Any Time of Day: In Vietnam, beef pho can be enjoyed as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s a versatile meal that suits any time of the day.
  • Symbol of Vietnam: Beef pho is considered a national dish, reflecting Vietnam’s culinary tradition and history.
  • Healthy Choice: Beef pho is often considered a nutritious option packed with lean protein, herbs, and spices, balancing flavors with health benefits.
  • Customizable Experience: Diners often customize their beef pho with condiments like chili, lime, and hoisin sauce, making each bowl a unique experience.
  • Street Food to Fine Dining: From bustling street vendors to elegant restaurants, beef pho is served across various dining atmospheres, symbolizing its widespread appeal and accessibility.
  • Global Impact: The popularity of beef pho has transcended Vietnamese borders, turning it into an international favorite in Asian cuisine restaurants worldwide.
  • Long Cooking Process: The beef pho broth requires hours of simmering to achieve its complex flavor, often involving overnight cooking to extract the essence from beef bones and spices.
  • Cultural Significance: Sharing a bowl of beef pho is more than just dining; it’s a communal experience that often brings family and friends together, reinforcing social bonds.
  • Variations with Meat: While beef is the most common, variations of pho with chicken or vegetarian substitutes are also popular, reflecting the adaptability of this celebrated dish.

What Makes The Beef Pho Soup Special? 

  • Complex Flavor Profile: Combining simmered beef bones, spices, herbs, and noodles creates a rich and unique taste.
  • Cultural Symbol: As a dish deeply rooted in Vietnamese tradition, it represents the country’s culinary heritage.
  • Versatility: It can be enjoyed at any time of day and personalized with various condiments and garnishes.
  • Health Benefits: Rich in protein and packed with fresh herbs, it’s often considered a nutritious choice.
  • Accessibility: From street vendors to upscale restaurants, beef pho is available to many diners.
  • Social Experience: Sharing a bowl fosters community and family bonds, turning a meal into a social event.
  • Global Appeal: Its international popularity has made beef pho a beloved dish worldwide.
  • Traditional Preparation: The artful preparation, including hours of simmering the broth, reflects a dedication to conventional cooking methods.
  • Adaptability: The dish can be modified with different meats or vegetarian options, suiting various preferences and dietary needs.
  • Sensory Experience: The aroma, taste, and texture of beef pho engage all the senses, making it more than just a meal but a culinary adventure.
beef pho soup

Ingredients List

IngredientQuantity
Meaty beef knuckle bones5 pounds
Cold filtered water2 gallons
Vinegar½ cup
Beef oxtail2 pounds
Daikon radish, peeled and sliced1
Onions, peeled and chopped2
Whole star anise pods⅓ cup
Cinnamon stick½
Whole cloves2
Whole black peppercorns1 teaspoon
Peeled fresh ginger slice1
White sugar1 tablespoon
Sea salt1 tablespoon, or to taste
Fish sauce1 tablespoon
Dried flat rice noodles1½ pounds
Frozen beef sirloin½ pound, thinly sliced

Ingredient Tips

Here are some tips that can help you when gathering and using the ingredients for beef pho soup:

  • Beef Knuckle Bones and Oxtail: Make sure they are fresh and properly cleaned. These are essential for a rich broth. Some prefer to blanch them to remove impurities briefly.
  • Cold Filtered Water: Starting with cold water helps to extract the flavors more gradually, leading to a clearer broth.
  • Vinegar: This helps to extract nutrients from the bones. Apple cider vinegar can be a flavorful substitute.
  • Star Anise and Cinnamon: Use whole spices for the best flavor. Grinding them can make the flavor too overpowering.
  • Fresh Ginger: Use fresh ginger rather than powdered for a more vibrant taste.
  • Rice Noodles: Soak the dried noodles in cold water for 30 minutes before cooking to ensure they cook evenly.
  • Frozen Beef Sirloin: Partially freezing the meat makes it easier to slice thinly, which is vital for texture.
  • Toppings: Feel free to customize the toppings according to your preference. Fresh herbs will add more flavor.
  • Fish Sauce: Quality matters here, so select a reputable brand for the best flavor.
  • Daikon Radish: Make sure to peel it properly, as the skin can impart a bitter taste.
  • Tasting as You Go: Remember to taste your broth as it simmers and adjust the seasoning (salt, sugar, fish sauce) as needed.
  • Vegetarian Options: If catering to different dietary needs, you can replace beef bones with vegetables and use soy sauce instead of fish sauce.
  • Storage: If you have any leftover ingredients, particularly fresh herbs, store them properly to maintain freshness. Fresh herbs like cut flowers can be stored in a glass of water in the refrigerator.

Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients? 

Beef pho soup can be modified to suit various dietary preferences and needs. Here are some variations for Keto, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Whole30, Vegetarian, and Vegan diets:

Keto

  • Replace rice noodles with spiralized zucchini or shirataki noodles (konjac noodles).
  • Use a sugar substitute like stevia or erythritol instead of white sugar.

Paleo

  • Substitute rice noodles with spiralized vegetables like zucchini or sweet potato.
  • Replace white sugar with a Paleo-friendly sweetener like honey or coconut sugar.

Gluten-Free

  • Ensure the fish sauce and other condiments are gluten-free, as some brands may contain gluten.
  • Use naturally gluten-free rice noodles, but ensure they are not processed with gluten-containing products.

Whole30

  • Use zucchini noodles or other vegetable noodles instead of rice noodles.
  • Replace sugar with Whole30-compliant sweeteners or omit it altogether.
  • Ensure fish sauce and other condiments are Whole30-compliant.

Vegetarian

  • Replace beef bones and oxtail with a mix of hearty vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, and celery for the broth.
  • Use vegetable broth or water as the base.
  • Omit the beef sirloin and add tofu or additional vegetables like bok choy.

Vegan

  • Follow the vegetarian variation and ensure all condiments like sugar and sauces are vegan-friendly.
  • Replace fish sauce with a vegan alternative, such as soy sauce or a vegan fish sauce made from seaweed or mushrooms.
Ingredients of soup

Recipe Directions

  • Preparation: Place beef knuckle bones in a 9-quart pot. Add 2 gallons of water and vinegar. Simmer for 2 hours, skimming off scum.
  • Cooking: Add oxtail, radish, onions, spices in cheesecloth, sugar, salt, fish sauce. Simmer for 4+ hours.
  • Blending: Strain broth, discard spices and bones, reserve meat, and return soup to simmer.
  • Final Touches: Soak rice noodles for 20 minutes, cook in boiling water for 5 minutes, and drain.
  • Serving: Add noodles, raw beef to bowls, ladle broth over. Serve with toppings.
beef pho soup

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings

Beef pho soup is incredibly versatile, allowing various variations, add-ons, and toppings to suit individual tastes and dietary needs. Here’s an extensive list:

Variations

  • Different Meats: Swap beef with chicken, shrimp, or a combination of meats.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: Use vegetable broth, tofu, or mushrooms instead of beef.
  • Dietary Options: Adapt the recipe for Keto, Paleo, Gluten-Free, or Whole30 by following earlier provided guidelines.

Add-Ons

  • Extra Vegetables: Add bok choy, spinach, or other greens.
  • Tofu: Add fried or soft tofu for more protein.
  • Eggs: Soft-boiled or poached eggs add richness.
  • Seafood: Incorporate shrimp, squid, or fish for a seafood variation.

Toppings

  • Sriracha or Tabasco Sauce: For heat lovers.
  • Hoisin Sauce: Adds a sweet and salty flavor.
  • Thinly Sliced Onion: For crunch and sharpness.
  • Chopped Fresh Cilantro: Adds a fresh herbal note.

Scaling The Recipe

Scaling a recipe, whether increasing for a larger crowd or decreasing for a smaller serving, requires careful adjustments to balance the flavors and proportions. Here’s how you can scale the beef pho soup recipe both up and down:

Scaling Up

  • Ingredients: Multiply each ingredient proportionally. For example, if you want to double the recipe, multiply each ingredient by two.
  • Cooking Vessel: Ensure the pot or cooking vessel is large enough to accommodate the increased volume.
  • Simmering Time: The simmering time for the broth may need to increase slightly as the volume increases. Monitor and taste the broth to determine the optimal simmering time.
  • Serving Size: Increase the number of bowls, utensils, and platters accordingly.

Scaling Down

  • Ingredients: Divide each ingredient proportionally. If you want to halve the recipe, divide each ingredient by two. Be mindful of items like spices that might not divide evenly; in those cases, adjust to taste.
  • Cooking Vessel: Use a smaller pot or cooking vessel suitable for the reduced volume.
  • Simmering Time: The simmering time may need to decrease slightly with a reduced volume. As always, taste the broth to find the optimal simmering time.
  • Serving Size: Decrease the number of bowls and utensils accordingly.

What Is Used For Garnishing?

Garnishing adds a visual appeal and a burst of flavor to the final presentation of beef pho soup. Here are common garnishes used to enhance this Vietnamese dish:

  • Fresh Herbs: Chopped fresh cilantro, Thai basil, or mint leaves provide color and aromatic flavors.
  • Lime Wedges: A lime wedge on the side of the bowl allows diners to add a fresh citrusy zest.
  • Sliced Chili Peppers: Thin slices of fresh chili peppers like jalapeños add a spicy kick and a vibrant red or green color.
  • Bean Sprouts: Fresh mung bean sprouts give a pleasing crunch and new texture.
  • Thinly Sliced Green Onions: Sprinkled on top for a pop of green color and mild onion flavor.
  • Chopped Peanuts: For a nutty crunch and visual appeal.
  • Sriracha or Hoisin Sauce: A drizzle on top can add visual contrast and enhance flavor, letting diners adjust the spiciness or sweetness to their taste.
  • Thinly Sliced Onions: Adds a bit of sharpness and texture.
  • Edible Flowers: Edible flowers like marigolds or pansies can be used for an exquisite presentation.
beef pho soup

Can I Make Beef Pho Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

You can make beef pho soup in a slow cooker and an Instant Pot. Here’s how you can adapt the traditional stovetop recipe for these appliances:

Slow Cooker Method

  • Preparation: Follow the steps in the original recipe, including simmering the beef knuckle bones for 2 hours.
  • Transfer to Slow Cooker: Add the oxtail, radish, onions, tied spices, sugar, salt, and fish sauce to the slow cooker.
  • Cook: Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 6-8 hours or until the flavors are well developed.
  • Strain and Serve: Strain the broth, discard the solids, and follow the original recipe’s final touches and serving steps.

Instant Pot Method

  • Preparation: As with the slow cooker method, start with the preparation steps on the stovetop or use the Instant Pot’s sauté function to simmer the beef knucklebones.
  • Transfer to Instant Pot: Add the oxtail, radish, onions, tied spices, sugar, salt, and fish sauce to the Instant Pot.
  • Cook: Seal the Instant Pot and set to pressure cook on high for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Natural Release: Allow the pressure to release naturally for about 20 minutes, then carefully use the quick release for any remaining pressure.
  • Strain and Serve: Strain the broth, discard the solids, and follow the original recipe’s final touches and serving steps.

Can I Use Store Bought Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?

Depending on your preferences, time constraints, and desired flavor profile, you can use either store-bought broth or make your own. Here’s a look at both options:

Using Store-Bought Broth

  • Convenience: Store-bought broth can save significant time and effort, making it a convenient option.
  • Quality Variations: Look for high-quality beef broth, preferably one labeled as organic or free from additives and preservatives. Low-sodium options are also available, allowing you to control the salt content.
  • Customization: You can still customize the flavor by simmering the store-bought broth with spices like star anise, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, ginger, and a bit of fish sauce, sugar, and salt to taste.
  • Quick Option: Great for a quick weeknight meal when you don’t have hours to simmer the broth.

Making Your Broth

  • Flavor Control: Making your broth allows complete control over the flavor, letting you create a richer and more nuanced taste.
  • Time-Consuming: Simmering the bones and other ingredients takes several hours to develop the full flavor.
  • Ingredient Quality: You can choose the quality of the beef and other ingredients, ensuring a cleaner and more wholesome broth.
  • Authenticity: For a truly authentic beef pho experience, making the broth from scratch is typically preferred.

Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For The Soup?

Beef pho soup is versatile, and you can experiment with different types of meat, fish, pasta, and vegetables to suit your taste or dietary preferences. Here’s a guide to some possible variations:

Meat

  • Chicken: Substitute beef with chicken for a lighter flavor. Chicken thighs or breasts work well.
  • Pork: Sliced pork shoulder or belly can offer a rich, flavorful alternative.

Fish and Seafood

  • Shrimp: Add cooked shrimp to the hot broth for a seafood twist.
  • Fish: Firm white fish like cod or halibut can be sliced and added to the broth.

Pasta

  • Gluten-Free Noodles: To make the dish gluten-free, consider using gluten-free rice noodles or other gluten-free pasta options.
  • Whole Wheat Noodles: Whole wheat noodles could be used for a heartier texture and added fiber.
  • Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles): Zoodles can replace traditional noodles with a low-carb option.

Vegetables

  • Mushrooms: Various mushrooms like shiitake or oyster can add an earthy flavor.
  • Bok Choy or Spinach: Leafy greens can bring freshness and nutritional value.
  • Carrots: Sliced or shredded carrots can add color and a mild sweetness.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options

  • Tofu: Firm tofu can be a great meat substitute for a vegetarian or vegan version.
  • Vegetable Broth: Replace the beef broth with a rich vegetable broth, and add more vegetables to provide substance.
Making of soup

Success Tips – Tips And Tricks For Making The Soup

Making beef pho soup can be a rewarding culinary experience, and many tips and tricks can help you achieve an authentic and delicious result. Here’s a guide to some helpful prepping and cooking tips:

Prepping Tips

  • Parboil the Bones: Boil the beef bones for a few minutes and then rinse them to remove impurities. This ensures a clearer broth.
  • Char the Onions and Ginger: Charring these ingredients can deepen the flavor. You can do this over an open flame or in a broiler.
  • Bundle Your Spices: Place star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and peppercorns in a cheesecloth or tea infuser to easily remove them later.
  • Slice the Meat Thin: If using raw beef as a topping, freeze it slightly to make it easier to slice thinly. Thin slices will cook quickly in the hot broth.
  • Prepare Garnishes Ahead of Time: Chop herbs, slice chili peppers, and have other garnishes ready to streamline serving.

Cooking Tips

  • Simmer Gently: A slow, gentle simmer helps create a clear, flavorful broth without over-concentrating flavors.
  • Skim Regularly: Skim off any scum or fat that rises to the top during simmering to keep the broth clear and clean.
  • Taste and Season Gradually: Taste the broth as it cooks and adjust the seasoning slowly, as the flavors will intensify over time.
  • Strain the Broth: Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove solids, ensuring a clear and smooth soup.
  • Cook Noodles Separately: Cook the noodles in a separate pot to prevent them from overcooking and clouding the broth.
  • Serve Immediately: Pho is best served hot, so have everything ready once the broth is done.
Healthy soup

Nutritional Values

The nutritional values of Beef Pho Soup encompass a well-balanced profile. Rich in protein from beef and filled with essential vitamins and minerals, this soup provides nourishment without excessive calories. 

The presence of spices adds flavor and contributes to potential health benefits. Careful selection of ingredients and portion control can further align Beef Pho Soup with various dietary preferences and needs.

What Are The Total Calories In The Soup?

The total calories for the entire soup pot (without individual toppings) would be 2075-2645. For a single serving, if the recipe serves 8-10 portions, each bowl would be around 260-330 calories without additional toppings.

Dietary Restrictions Of The Beef Pho Soup

Beef Pho Soup is a delicious and hearty meal. Still, it may not suit everyone due to specific dietary restrictions. Here’s a look at some common nutritional considerations:

  • Gluten-Free: Traditional pho with rice noodles is typically gluten-free, but some condiments or additives might contain gluten. Checking specific ingredient labels is essential.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: Standard beef pho soup is unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans due to the beef components. A vegetable broth and plant-based proteins like tofu could be used as substitutes.
  • Dairy-Free: Beef pho soup is generally dairy-free. However, always verify the ingredients in pre-packaged products like store-bought broth.
  • Nut-Free: Pho is typically nut-free. However, cross-contamination in manufacturing or restaurant preparation could concern those with severe nut allergies.
  • Low-Carb/Keto: The rice noodles in pho are a source of carbohydrates, so they may not be suitable for a strict low-carb or keto diet. Replacing the noodles with spiralized vegetables could be an alternative.
  • Shellfish Allergies: Fish sauce is a common ingredient in pho, and it may contain shellfish or be processed in facilities with shellfish. Checking labels or using alternatives might be necessary for those with shellfish allergies.
  • Paleo: Making pho compliant with a paleo diet would require some adjustments, such as omitting sugar and using a paleo-friendly fish sauce.

Health Benefits Of The Beef Pho Soup

Beef Pho Soup is not just a flavorful and comforting dish; it also offers several potential health benefits, thanks to its combination of nourishing ingredients. Here’s a rundown of some of the benefits:

  • High in Protein: Beef provides a substantial source of protein, essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall bodily function.
  • Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: Ingredients like onions, daikon radish, and fresh herbs contribute essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and various B vitamins.
  • Collagen and Joint Health: Slow-cooking beef bones may release collagen and other beneficial compounds that can support joint health.
  • Aids Digestion: Warm broth and spices like ginger and star anise can aid digestion. Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to soothe the digestive tract.
  • Hydration: The liquid content of the soup provides hydration, especially if you’re under the weather or need a warm pick-me-up.
  • Customizable for Various Diets: Beef Pho can be adapted to fit different dietary needs, such as gluten-free or low-carb, making it a versatile dish for various nutritional plans.
  • Potential Weight Control: With proper portion control and mindful selection of ingredients, beef pho can be part of a balanced diet that supports weight management.
  • Heart Health: Although it contains red meat, it can be part of a heart-healthy diet if lean cuts of beef are used, and sodium is moderated.
  • Immune Support: Combining nutrient-rich vegetables, healing spices, and bone broth may offer some immune-boosting properties.
  • Mental Comfort: Beyond physical nourishment, the warmth and flavors of beef pho can provide psychological comfort and satisfaction, making it a beloved comfort food for many.

Nutrition Table 

Nutrition table

How Can I Make Beef Pho Soup Lower In Sodium? 

Making beef pho soup lower in sodium is a good approach for those looking to control their salt intake. Here are some practical ways to reduce the sodium content:

  • Use Low-Sodium or No-Sodium Broth: If you’re using store-bought broth, opt for a low-sodium or sodium-free version. If making your broth, use fresh ingredients without adding salt.
  • Reduce or Eliminate Added Salt: Cut back on or eliminate the salt in the recipe. If needed, you can always allow diners to season their servings at the table.
  • Opt for Low-Sodium Fish Sauce: Fish sauce is a significant source of sodium in pho. Look for a reduced-sodium version, or use it sparingly.
  • Enhance Flavor with Herbs and Spices: To compensate for reduced salt, increase the aromatic herbs and spices like ginger, star anise, and fresh cilantro. These can add depth and complexity without adding sodium.
  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Processed or canned ingredients may contain hidden sodium. Use fresh vegetables and meats to have better control over the sodium content.
  • Be Mindful of Toppings and Condiments: Sauces like hoisin and Sriracha can contain significant sodium. Serve them on the side, so individuals can control the amount they add or look for lower-sodium versions.
  • Consult Recipes Designed for Low Sodium: Many recipes and cookbooks are tailored to low-sodium diets and might offer specific ingredient recommendations and techniques.

How Can I Make Beef Pho Soup Lower In Sugar?

Reducing sugar in beef pho soup is straightforward, especially considering that traditional recipes typically don’t contain much sugar. Here’s how you can make beef pho soup lower in sugar:

  • Eliminate or Reduce Added Sugar: Omit or lessen the sugar in the recipe. Depending on the recipe, sugar might be used to balance flavors. Still, you can reduce or remove it without a significant impact.
  • Use a Sugar Substitute: If you still want some sweetness without the sugar content, consider using a sugar substitute like stevia, often used in low-sugar or sugar-free diets.
  • Mind the Condiments: Some condiments and sauces, like hoisin sauce, might contain sugar. Serve them on the side, so diners can control the amount they add, or look for low-sugar or sugar-free versions.
  • Increase Other Flavor Components: Enhance other flavors in the soup by adding more fresh herbs, spices, or a squeeze of lime. These can compensate for the lack of sweetness and add complexity to the dish.
  • Choose Your Broth Wisely: If you’re using a store-bought broth, check the labels, as some might contain added sugars or sweeteners. Opt for a brand without added sugar.
  • Be Mindful of Other Ingredients: Some processed or packaged ingredients might contain hidden sugars, so always read labels if you’re looking to minimize sugar intake.
  • Experiment with Other Sweeteners: If you still want a taste of sweetness without sugar, experiment with natural sweeteners like monk fruit, which doesn’t impact blood sugar levels.

How To Serve The Beef Pho Soup At Its Best?

Serving beef pho soup is an interactive and personalized experience that allows each diner to tailor their bowl to their preferences. Here’s how to serve it best:

  • Prepare the Broth: Keep the strained and seasoned broth on the stove until ready to serve. This ensures it’s hot enough to cook the raw beef when ladled over.
  • Arrange the Toppings: Set up a toppings bar with the options like Sriracha or Tabasco sauce, hoisin sauce, thinly sliced onion, chopped fresh cilantro, mung bean sprouts, chopped fresh Thai basil, thinly sliced green onion, and lime quarters. This allows guests to customize their bowls.
  • Prep the Noodles: Pre-cook the noodles according to the recipe instructions and have them ready in a separate serving dish or individual bowls.
  • Serve the Raw Beef: The partially thawed and thinly sliced beef sirloin is typically served raw. Place it on a platter so guests can add it to their bowls just before ladling the hot broth to cook it.
  • Ladle the Broth: Serve the simmering broth from the pot, ladling it over the beef and noodles in the bowls. The hot broth will cook the raw beef slices.
  • Encourage Customization: Invite guests to garnish their bowls with the toppings and condiments they like, adding freshness and personal flavor preferences.
  • Provide the Right Utensils: Traditionally, pho is eaten with chopsticks to pick up the noodles and meat and a deep spoon to scoop up the broth. Provide these utensils for an authentic experience.
  • Consider Dietary Preferences: If you have guests with dietary restrictions or preferences, ensure you have options available to accommodate them.
  • Serve with Complementary Sides: If desired, serve with additional sides like spring rolls or a fresh Vietnamese-style salad to complete the meal.

Perfect Side Dishes To Complement Beef Pho Soup

Beef Pho Soup is a comforting and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with various side dishes for a complete meal. Here are some perfect side dishes that can complement the rich, aromatic flavors of beef pho soup:

  • Fresh Spring Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn): Filled with shrimp, herbs, pork, rice vermicelli, and other ingredients, these are a fresh and light accompaniment.
  • Vietnamese Salad: A tangy salad with shredded cabbage, carrots, herbs, and a lime fish sauce dressing can offer a refreshing contrast.
  • Bánh Mì Sandwiches: These Vietnamese sandwiches can be served in smaller portions and provide a crunchy and savory complement to the soup.
  • Lemongrass Skewers: Grilled lemongrass beef or chicken skewers can offer a tasty protein-packed side.
  • Stir-Fried Vegetables: A simple side of stir-fried seasonal vegetables with garlic and soy sauce can add texture and color.
  • Papaya Salad: A spicy green papaya salad offers a crunchy and tangy counterpoint to the rich broth of pho.
  • Steamed Rice: Plain or jasmine rice can be neutral, especially if the pho is rich and flavorful.
  • Crispy Tofu: For a vegetarian option, crispy pan-fried tofu with dipping sauce can be a delightful addition.
  • Vietnamese Crepes (Bánh Xèo): These savory crepes are made with rice flour and filled with ingredients like shrimp, bean sprouts, and onions.
  • Pickled Vegetables: A side of pickled daikon radish and carrots (Đồ Chua) can provide a tangy and sweet contrast.
  • Chilled Seafood Salad: A cold salad with shrimp, squid, fresh herbs, and a zesty dressing offers a refreshing and light option.
  • Grilled Eggplant: Marinated and grilled eggplant adds a smoky flavor that compliments the deep taste of the beef pho.
  • Dipping Sauces: Additional dipping sauces like nuoc cham with sides can unify the meal’s flavors.
beef pho soup

How Long Can We Store The Soup?

Storing beef pho soup properly can extend its freshness and allow you to enjoy it over several days. Here’s how long you can keep beef pho soup and the best ways to do it:

Refrigeration

  • Broth: The broth can last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, stored separately from the noodles and toppings.
  • Noodles and Toppings: It’s best to store cooked noodles and fresh toppings separately from the broth to prevent them from becoming soggy. They can last 1-2 days in the refrigerator.

Freezing

  • Broth: Freezing is an excellent option for the broth, allowing you to store it for up to 3 months. Be sure to use an airtight container and leave some space at the top, as the liquid will expand when frozen.
  • Noodles: It’s not recommended to freeze cooked rice noodles as they may become mushy when reheated. It’s better to cook fresh noodles when ready to enjoy the soup again.
  • Meat: If you have extra cooked meat like oxtail or beef slices, you can freeze them separately for 2-3 months.

Can I Make The Soup In Advance?

Beef pho soup is an excellent dish to make in advance, and in fact, doing so can enhance the flavors as they meld and develop over time. Here’s how you can make beef pho soup in advance:

Prepare the Broth

  • Cook the beef knuckle bones and other broth ingredients according to the recipe.
  • Strain the broth, and if needed, adjust the seasoning.
  • Allow it to cool to room temperature and store it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Prepare the Meat

  • Reserve the meat from the beef knuckle bones and other cooked meat like oxtail.
  • Store the cooked meat in the refrigerator (use within 3-4 days) or freezer (up to 2-3 months).

What Can We Do With Leftovers? 

Leftover beef pho soup can be a versatile base for various dishes, ensuring nothing goes to waste. Here’s what you can do with the leftovers:

  • Reheat and Enjoy: Reheat the broth, cook fresh noodles, and assemble for another meal.
  • Stir-Fried Noodles: Use leftover noodles and meat, stir-frying them with vegetables and a splash of soy sauce.
  • Asian Salad: Toss leftover meat with greens, herbs, and a tangy dressing for a refreshing salad.
  • Broth Base: Use the flavorful broth as a base for other soups or stews, adding new ingredients.
  • Rice Bowl: Serve leftover meat over steamed rice with pickled vegetables and a spoonful of broth.
  • Sandwich Filling: Use the meat in a Vietnamese-style Bánh Mì sandwich.
  • Freeze for Later: Store leftover broth and meat in the freezer for future pho or other culinary creations.
  • Meat Wraps: Lettuce or rice paper wrap leftover meat, herbs, and dip in hoisin or peanut sauce.
beef pho soup

Special Tools/Equipment Needed

Making beef pho soup doesn’t require specialized equipment; specific tools can make the process easier and more efficient. Here’s a list of tools and equipment that can be helpful:

  • Large Stock Pot: A large pot (9-quart or more) is essential for simmering the beef bones and other ingredients to make the broth.
  • Cheesecloth: Used to tie spices like star anise pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, and ginger, allowing them to be easily removed later.
  • Fine-Mesh Strainer: Helps in straining the broth to remove solids, ensuring a clear and clean soup base.
  • Skimmer: Useful for removing the foam and fat that accumulates on the surface of the broth during simmering.
  • Sharp Knife: Necessary for slicing the beef sirloin paper-thin and chopping other ingredients.
  • Ladle: For serving the hot broth over the noodles and beef in individual bowls.
  • Bowls for Soaking and Cooking Noodles: A bowl for soaking the dried flat rice noodles in warm water and a pot for boiling them.
  • Tongs or Chopsticks: Helpful in handling and serving noodles and meat.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: To accurately measure ingredients like vinegar, sugar, salt, and fish sauce.
  • Serving Platters and Bowls: To present the toppings and add-ons attractively at the table, allowing diners to customize their bowls.
  • Optional – Slow Cooker or Instant Pot: If you choose to make the broth using these appliances, they can save time and effort.
  • Optional – Meat Slicer: A meat slicer can ensure uniform and thin slices of beef sirloin if available.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Substitute The Beef With Chicken Or Other Proteins In The Pho Recipe?

Indeed, substituting beef with chicken or other proteins is feasible and allows for variations in flavor. You would replace the beef bones with chicken bones and the beef sirloin with thinly sliced chicken breast for a chicken version. The cooking process remains the same, though the simmering time may vary based on the protein used.

How Do I Achieve The Rich Flavor And Clear Appearance That Characterizes Authentic Pho Broth?

Achieving a rich flavor and clear broth requires careful attention to detail. The bones can be roasted beforehand, and the spices should be toasted lightly to enhance flavor. Skimming off impurities and fat during the simmering process helps maintain a clear appearance. It is advisable to strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any remaining solids.

Is There A Vegetarian Version Of Pho That Maintains The Traditional Flavors?

A vegetarian pho can be prepared using a vegetable broth infused with traditional spices like star anise, cinnamon, and cloves. Replacing the fish sauce with soy sauce or a vegetarian alternative and using tofu or mushrooms instead of meat allows for a vegetarian dish that still resonates with the traditional flavors of pho.

How Can I Prevent The Noodles From Becoming Soggy And Overcooked?

The texture of the noodles is paramount to the enjoyment of pho. Soaking the dried flat rice noodles in warm water for about 20 minutes before cooking ensures they soften. Boil the noodles until softened (around 5 minutes), then drain immediately. 

Serving them promptly after cooking and not allowing them to sit in the hot broth for an extended period will prevent them from becoming soggy.

Is There A Way To Reduce The Preparation And Cooking Time Without Losing The Authentic Taste Of Beef Pho?

While traditional beef pho benefits from long-simmering to extract flavors, there are methods to expedite the process. Utilizing a pressure cooker or Instant Pot can significantly reduce the cooking time. Roasting the bones and toasting the spices beforehand can deepen the flavors quickly. 

Though these methods may shorten the time, the complexity of flavors achieved through slow simmering may be somewhat diminished.

Fresh Beef Pho Soup - Traditional Vietnamese Dish

Fresh Beef Pho Soup – Traditional Vietnamese Dish

5 from 3 votes
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Soup Recipes
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

6

hours 
Calories

300

kcal

Beef Pho Soup is a Vietnamese culinary treasure, weaving a rich aromatic broth with beef bones and traditional spices. It’s served over tender rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, and garnished with fresh herbs.

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds 5 Meaty beef knuckle bones

  • 2 gallons 2 Cold filtered water

  • ½ cup ½ Vinegar

  • 2 pounds 2 Beef oxtail

  • 1 1 Daikon radish, peeled and sliced

  • 2 2 Onions, peeled and chopped

  • cup Whole star anise pods

  • ½ ½ Cinnamon stick

  • 2 2 Whole cloves  

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Whole black peppercorns

  • 1 1 Peeled fresh ginger slice

  • 1 tablespoon 1 White sugar

  • 1 tablespoon 1 Sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon 1 Fish sauce

  • pounds Dried flat rice noodles

  • ½ pound ½ Frozen beef sirloin

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation Steps
    Place beef knuckle bones in a large 9-quart pot.
    Fill with 2 gallons of cold filtered water.
    Add vinegar
    Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
    Reduce to low, carefully spoon off the scum, and simmer for 2 hours.
  • Cooking
    Skim fat from the soup surface.
    Add oxtail, radish, and onions.
    Tie star anise pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, and ginger in cheesecloth and add to soup.
    Stir in sugar, salt, and fish sauce.
    Return to a simmer, and cook for at least 4 more hours.
    Taste and add more salt if needed.
  • Blending
    Strain the broth, discard spices and bones.
    Reserve meat from beef knuckle bones for another use.
    Return the soup to the pot, and keep it at a simmer.
  • Final Touches
    Soak rice noodles in warm water for 20 minutes, then drain.
    Bring a separate pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and add noodles.
    Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, then drain.
  • Serving
    Place some noodles into soup bowls.
    Top with a few raw beef slices.
    Ladle simmering broth over the beef and noodles.
    Serve with Sriracha, hoisin sauce, thinly sliced onion, fresh cilantro, mung bean sprouts, Thai basil, green onion, and lime quarters on the side.
  • Additional Options
    For a spicier kick, add sliced jalapeños or chili sauce.
    Serve with fresh lime wedges for added zing.
    Customize with preferred herbs and spices to taste.

Notes

  • Broth Quality: Spending time on the broth is vital; its flavor defines the dish.
  • Meat Choices: Different cuts of beef can be used, affecting texture and flavor.
  • Spices: Traditional spices like star anise and cinnamon are essential but can be adjusted to taste.
  • Garnishes: Fresh herbs and lime add brightness and are customizable.
  • Dietary Options: Variations exist for vegetarian, gluten-free, and low-sodium diets.
  • Serving Style: Served hot with toppings on the side, allowing each diner to personalize their bowl.
  • Leftovers: Storing and repurposing leftovers can create diverse subsequent meals.
  • Global Popularity: A staple in Vietnamese cuisine, Beef Pho Soup has gained worldwide admiration.
  • Pairing Options: Complements various side dishes for a complete and satisfying meal.
Lana Rivera

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