Pho (pronounced Fuh) has to be one of my all time favourite soups. It is full of fresh, clean flavours and while satisfying, a big bowl of this delicious Vietnamese noodle soup doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve over indulged. Best of all, this is one soup that you can slurp up come Summer, Autumn, Winter or Spring.
Rarely having the time (or foresight) to make my own stock, I’ve been making a cheats version of this soup for quite a while now, using a good quality store bought stock. However, my finished product kept falling short of the real deal. Until yesterday that is, when I decided to try enhancing the store bought variety by adding some of the spices you’d use to prepare the stock from scratch. Why hadn’t I done this sooner!?! The result came about as close are you’ll get to the real deal when you can only spare a fraction of the time. Light, aromatic and extremely flavoursome.
If you’ve never had Pho Ba before, don’t be put off by the use of raw beef. Just be sure to serve your stock nice and hot, and your meat thinly sliced. The heat from the stock will cook the beef almost immediately.
If you prefer chicken to beef, you can easily substitute the beef stock and meat with chicken broth and one, large pre–cooked chicken breast. Now, instead of making Pho Ba (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup), you’ve made Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup).
Whichever version you choose, I hope you enjoy your Pho as much as I do. x
P.s. If you love the fresh flavours of Vietnamese food and want to make your meal more of a feast, you might enjoy a serving of Vietnamese spring rolls (such as these) before or alongside your Pho.
- 3 whole star anise
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 cm piece ginger, sliced
- 2 litres beef broth
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 packet (200-250g) dried rice stick noodles (banh pho)
- 350 g trimmed sirloin, thinly sliced
- 100g bean sprouts
- 2 bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced
- 1 spring onion (scallion), finely sliced
- 1 large handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 1 large handful of basil leaves
- 1 large handful of mint leaves
- 1-2 limes, cut into wedges
- hoisin or Siracha sauce to serve (optional)
- In a small fry pan / skillet, dry roast the star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick until aromatic.
- Transfer the spices to a large saucepan, then add the onion, fresh ginger and beef broth and bring to the boil over a high heat.
- Add the fish sauce to the stock, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Strain the broth through a fine sieve and discard the spices, ginger and onion. Return the broth to the saucepan and continue to simmer over a low heat until ready to serve.
- Meanwhile, follow the cooking instructions on the rice noodle packet. When cooked, drain the noodles then divide between four large bowls.
- Place about 4 slices of beef in each bowl, then cover the noodles and beef with stock. Leave the soup to sit for a couple of minutes to allow the beef to partially cook.
- Garnish each bowl with bean sprouts, spring onions, and the fresh herbs (coriander, mint and basil leaves)*.
- Serve with chilli slices, lime wedges and if desired, hoisin or Sriracha sauce on the side.
- *Alternatively serve the bean sprouts, spring onions and fresh herbs together with the chillies and lime wedges on a plate in the centre of the table and allow people to individually select their garnishes.