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Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Serves: Serves 6


For the Beef Broth

  • 3 ½ pounds beef bones (shin or oxtail)
  • 4 quarts water
  • 4 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 quarter-sized slices of peeled fresh ginger, lightly crushed
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks

For the Soup

  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
  • ½ pound flat rice stick noodles (banh pho), softened in hot water and cooked until “al dente”, rinsed and drained
  • ½ to 1 pound boneless beef sirloin, trimmed and very thinly sliced against the grain
  • 2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained

For Serving and Garnish

  • 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 to 2 small hot red chilies, preferably Thai or Vietnamese, sliced crosswise into fine rings
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onion tops
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves, stems removed


In a large soup pot combine all of the ingredients for the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat enough to maintain a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Carefully skim any impurities from the surface with a slotted spoon or fine-meshed skimmer. Strain the broth through a fine-meshed sieve into another large pot (or a very large bowl- then carefully pour the broth back into the original pot).

Place the broth over medium-low heat, add the fish sauce and pepper, and keep warm.

Divide the noodles between six large soup bowls. Place each of the ingredients for serving and garnish in individual bowls or on a platter.

Stir the sliced beef and bean sprouts in the hot broth and bring to a boil. Cook until the beef just loses its pink color, about 1 ½ minutes (skim off any foam that may rise to the surface).

Ladle the beef, bean sprouts, and broth over the noodles. Serve hot. Each diner can season with lime and chili and garnish with herbs as desired.

Tested and perfected in the Sur La Table kitchen

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