Vietnamese food easily wins my family’s heart because of its pungent flavors and healthy ingredients. I was hesitant to make this soup because I thought it wasn’t easy, then I researched how to make our favorite Vietnamese soup at home.
Making your Vietnamese pho soup at home is not hard; all you need is a straightforward recipe, a few secrets, and a nice big stockpot. Jump to the full recipe or watch our recipe video showing you how we make it at home.
When we are in a Vietnamese restaurant, nothing satisfies my husband and me more than a big bowl of pho and some crispy spring rolls.
I haven’t been to Vietnam, but if I did, I know I would spend most of my time hitting every street food stall in search of new flavor combinations.
What is Pho
Pho is a delicate and delicious Vietnamese noodle soup made from beef bones, ginger, onions, and many aromatic spices. But you can also customize and add any condiments you desire to make it your own.
The meats are the key to any Pho recipe
The first step in creating a good pho is, of course, creating the broth. The key to any good pho broth is the meats.
The best meats to use are the combination of meat and bones, such as brisket, meaty bones, and marrow bones. But today, I am using a beef chunk.
Boil and rinse the bones
When you simmer meat or bones, they release scum or impurities, and if you don’t get rid of this, you’ll be stuck with a cloudy broth. Not good, because we like our soup to be as clear and clean as possible.
The lower the simmer, the less scum you have.
- Add the bones to a large stockpot, cover with cold water then bring to a boil.
- Boil for 5 minutes, then strain the water and meat/bones into a strainer. Rinse the bones to get rid of all the impurities. Also, make sure you give the stockpot a rinse, too – there will be scum on the bottom and sides of the pot.
- Add the meat/bones to the stockpot and cover with strained meat stock. Simmer, uncovered for 2 to 3 hours. If at any time foam or scum rises to the surface, use a spoon to remove it.
- Using a tong or a wide mesh spoon, remove bones, then strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer.
How long should I simmer the broth?
The longer you simmer the broth, the better. I give the broth at least 3 hours of simmering time, so all the spices and beef flavors come out into the broth.
Some people simmer the broth for hours longer, and some even do it overnight. Making the broth is a very time-consuming process, but the taste you are rewarded within the end is worth it.
Don’t forget the spices and toast them
We still like to give all the spices a quick roast before adding them to the pot. You can also roast spices in the oven at 250 degrees Celcius on the grill element. It will also take 10 minutes for onions and ginger and 2 minutes for spices, so be careful not to burn the spices.
Or you can also throw them into a dry pan over medium heat, stay close and shake the pan a couple of times to make sure they toast. You will know when they are ready when you start to smell them. It only takes 2 to 3 minutes.
Best noodles and condiments
Whether you will use dry or fresh rice noodles, never cook them in the broth. If you do this, the broth will become cloudy. So, cook them in another pot and add the cooked noodles to your bowl before adding hot broth.
Make sure you have some freezer space to store some of that extra broth for the best make-ahead meal.
How to cook rice noodles
- Soak one rice noodle cake in hot water (400 ml) within 10 minutes, or until softened.
- Stir well and drain the water off.
Which condiments are best for Pho?
On the tables of every Vietnamese restaurant, you will see Sriracha hot chili sauce and Hoisin sauce. You can squirt as much of these two condiments as you want.
Assembling a bowl of Pho
There are right and a wrong way to construct a bowl of pho. The wrong way is to throw everything together. Of course, you will end up with a bowl of everything thrown together, but there’s an order to the throwing.
- Pick a large (enough) bowl. Pho needs big bowls because between the noodles and the broth and the vegetables; bowls fill up fast.
- Rice noodles fist. Add your pre-cooked rice noodles first.
- Meat next.
- Add the broth.
How to store
I recommend refrigerating the broth, meat, noodles, and garnishes in separate containers so that noodles do not soak up all of the broth. But the cooked soup with the ingredients mixed can be refrigerated in sealed containers for up to 3 days.
Go ahead and try the recipe. Let me know your result. ☺
You will need:
- 2 medium-sized red onion, peeled and halved
- 3-inch fresh ginger, sliced down the center
- 2 to 3 cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole star anise
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 900 g huge beef bones with marrow (or meaty beef), boil in 10 cups of water
- 3 spring onions, chopped
- 1 stem lemongrass, pounded
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- spring onions, chopped
- 1 cup bean sprout
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely sliced
- 1 kg of dried rice stick noodles
- lime wedges
- hoisin sauce
- finely sliced red chili (optional)
- Start by turning the oven to 250 degrees Celcius on the grill element. Place the have a two half onion and ginger in a baking tray. When the oven is hot, insert the baking dish. Broil for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the onion and ginger’s tops are slightly charred. Remove and set aside.
- Then add cinnamon sticks, star anise, and garlic cloves into the oven for approx. 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the spices.
- Add beef meat/bones to a large stockpot, then cover with cold water. Place the pot onto high heat and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Scoop all the impurities and scum that rises to the top. Rinse the meat/bones under tap water and strain the stock and do it twice! Scrub stockpot to remove any residue that has stuck to the sides and bottom. Watch the video tutorial and see how I did it.
For the broth
- Bring stockpot with parboiled meat/bones and 10 cups of drained broth to a boil, lower to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes. If at any time foam or scum rises to the surface, use a spoon to remove it.
- Add the spices we roast earlier (if the shell or any parts are burned, remove it first), spring onions, lemongrass, sugar, and taste with fish sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 2 to 3 (or longer) hours. If at any time foam or scum rises to the surface, use a spoon to remove it.
Strain the broth
- Once the meats/bones have simmered and your broth is ready, you will need to strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. This is to separate the clear broth from the meats/bones and spices.
- Cook the rice sticks per package instruction and divide them into 4 bowls.
- Thinly slice your meat, then add them on top of the rice noodles.
- Pour in the broth to the bowls.
- Add the rest of the garnish. Enjoy!
- Be careful not to add too much water as it will make the soup weak in flavor.
- Instead of broiling the onion and ginger in the oven, you can also cook them cut-side down in a saute pan over high heat until charred.