Skip to recipe.In our household, we are on the constant hunt for foods that are delicious and healthy. If it is also easy to prepare, then it is more or less the perfect food. Such "trifectas" of taste, health and ease are likely to make it into frequent rotation in our home. This healthy and super flavorful broth-based soup has recently become one of our favorite evening meals, thanks to my husband's long-time love of Vietnamese soup Pho. It isn't easy to get Vietnamese food in Ghana, so Terry and I were finally motivated to learn how to make this wonderful soup for ourselves. With a little experimentation we found a combination that we love. As the cold weather turns towards spring, this warm soup with its bright citrus flavors is the perfect match for the season.
Skip to nutritional information.
The soup is served with a full plate of accompaniments, so your family or guests can tailor their bowl to their own particular tastes. It adds a great element of participation to cooking, which can otherwise be a bit of a spectator sport.
Vietnamese Pho SoupMy husband's adaptation of Pho Bo (Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup) from Gourmet Magazine
6 cups beef broth (or part broth, part stock)
1/4-1/2 inch ginger, peeled
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 pound beef sirloin
3 ounces dried rice noodles
1-2 tsp fish sauce
Several twists of freshly ground black pepper
Fresh bean sprouts
Fresh chopped cilantro sprigs
1 small thin fresh red or green Asian chili, sliced into thin rings
Fresh basil leaves
Lime (preferably key limes), cut into quarters
Rice Noodles?Begin by soaking noodles in a bowl of warm water to soften. Put a pot of salted water on the heat to boil.
These tasty noodles are available at a number of local grocery stores, Whole Foods, or Asian specialty grocers.
Best of all these noodles are much healthier than the same amount of traditional spaghetti noodles. 100 g of rice noodles have only 109 calories, 0.2 g of fat, and a full gram of fiber. By contrast, the same amount of traditional fresh pasta has more than twice the calories (288), ten times the fat (2.3) and minimal fiber.
Add broth, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon to a separate pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer while you prep the beef and noodles.
Using a sharp kitchen knife, cut the beef into very thin slices. It can be helpful to briefly freeze the beef before trying to slice it thin, as it makes it more manageable.
Drain the rice noodles from the soaking water and add to the now boiling pot of water. Stir until tender, less than one minute. Do not overcook, as the noodles will continue softening in the hot broth of the soup. Drain noodles; if they are too soft, shock with ice water. Set aside.
Add fish sauce, salt and pepper to the broth pot. Raise flame to medium. Add beef and sprouts and cook 30 to 45 seconds, or until sirloin turns from pink to brown. The soup can sometimes produce a bit of foam, skim the foam (if any) before serving.
The first time we made this, we added the noodles to the big pot and then tried ladling it all into serving bowls. It was all a bit of a comic mishap. So I recommend you add the noodles into the serving bowls first, and then spoon the soup over the noodles. Allow your family friends or loved ones to customize their bowl from a plate of garnishes: scallions, cilantro, chilies and basil. Squeeze the lime wedges to add a bright citrus note to the earthy beef tones.
With all those tasty herbs and garnishes, I'm sending this over to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week at Kalyn's Kitchen.
This makes 4 very hearty servings or six lunch or first course servings.
Per serving (4 servings): 205 calories, 5.9 g fat, 0.6 g fiber, 27 g protein