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Easy Vietnamese Pho Soup Recipe

This easy Vietnamese Pho Soup Recipe can be made with chicken, pork or beef and is packed full of chewy Asian noodles, flavorful herbs and garnished with fresh lime and chili sauce.

Whole spices on a cutting board.
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My daughter turned into an intrepid eater sometime in High School.  For years I dragged her around new restaurants I wanted to try when we lived in Austin, Texas.  Although the city is known as the music capital of the World, I would argue that it is in the top 5 for food destinations in the World.

Everyday, on our way home from school, we passed a Vietnamese Pho restaurant.  I had never tried it before and didn’t know what it was.  One day, Bianca said, ‘let’s try that place’.  That was exciting, she picked the place – I didn’t drag her, honest.

We went in and was presented with an amazing menu filled with dozens of options.  It was a bit overwhelming so we asked the friendly proprietor for help.  He seemed sympathetic to our plight and obliged us with top recommendations.  That was the beginning of our passion for Pho soup.

Now whenever Bianca is home from college, we hit our local Vietnamese Pho restaurant and the Mongolian Ramen restaurant or we make our own Vietnamese sandwiches.

What is Pho?

Pho is a homemade broth-based soup with noodles and meat.  You may use beef, pork or chicken broth.  Typically it is garnished with fresh herbs when serving such as mint, cilantro, culantro, bean sprouts, scallions and juice from a fresh lime.  Most people will add sauces to their Pho such as chili sauce, chili oil, vinegar, hoisin sauce and any other favorite Asian sauce.

Northern Vietnamese Pho will have green onions, or scallions, and garnished with only vinegar.  Southern Vietnamese Pho is what is common in the U.S.

Pho soup is a historical blend of three cultures: Vietnamese, Chinese and French.

It is inspired by a soup the Chinese were making in Vietnam around 1910.  It was the French however that brought beef to Vietnam.

How to Make Pho

Essentially make the broth, assemble the ingredients and garnish.

3 Tips For a No-Scum Pho

I have made the broth using two different methods:

  • Boil the bones rapidly for 10 minutes then drain off the liquid, discard and add more water before continuing with the broth.  This method is helpful for decreasing the amount of scum that is formed.
  • Bake the bones first for 30 minutes, then put them in a pot, cover with water and continue with your broth.  This method is my favorite.  No scum has formed for me using this method.
  • If scum does happen to form, skim off using a fine mesh ladle.

Both methods decrease the amount of fat in the broth significantly.  The bone marrow contains a lot of fat and both of these methods cooks off the fat before the real broth process starts.

The broth takes a long time but is super easy.  After three hours, all of the flavor is extracted so the broth basically cooks up in 3 hours.  It is mostly hands off, that is the easy part.

If you are making chicken Pho, use chicken bones and if you are making beef Pho, use beef bones.  Or, you could go rogue like I did and use beef bones and chicken thighs.  I know but try it, it’s my favorite way to make Pho.

With the bones and water in the pot, add 2 onions quartered and your whole spices.  You can use ground spices but it’s going to make your broth a muddy color instead of the clear broth you will want.

Drain the broth into another pan, throw away the solids and bring the broth to a simmer.  Meanwhile cook your noodles, slice your meat thin and plate up your bowls.  First put the noodles in, then the meat and then pour the hot broth on top of the meat. If sliced thin enough, the hot broth perfectly cooks the meat.  Alternatively, you could throw the meat in the broth at the end, your broth will get a little less clear but otherwise it will be just fine.  Garnish as desired.

Tips For Easy Pho

Pho really is easy to make and you can feed a huge crowd.  Great for gatherings and large families.

You can also scale this down for singles and couples.  Just freeze some of your broth in freezer bags and you have a quick supply of broth for Pho during the week.  Just thaw the broth, cook up your noodles and slice your meat.  If you are savvy, you could ask your butcher to slice your meat for you like I do.  Garnish and nosh.  This method makes for an easy and amazing weeknight Pho.

chopped onion on a cutting board.

How to Eat Pho

Traditionally with chopsticks but that would not go over well in my house so I serve with a spoon and a fork.

Is Pho healthy?

Yes!  It is relatively low in calories, high in protein and vitamin C, low in fat and has lots of minerals.  Pho soup is good for you.

Me peeling ginger.
Peeled ginger.
Beef bones placed on a baking sheet.
Beef bones in a pan.
A pot of beef bones simmering with onions and spices in a large pot.
Noodles in packages.
Noodles in packages.
A bowl of Pho soup.
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A bowl of Pho soup.

Easy Vietnamese Pho Recipe

Yield: 10
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

This easy Vietnamese Pho Soup Recipe can be made with chicken, pork or beef and is packed full of chewy Asian noodles, flavorful herbs and garnished with fresh lime and chili sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef knuckles/leg bones
  • 16 cups or 1 gallon water
  • 4 inches fresh ginger
  • 2 onions quartered
  • 1 tablespoon Corriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Fennel seeds
  • 6 Cloves
  • 6 Star Anise
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Black cardamom
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon salt or to taste
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 lb very thinly sliced pork raw (ask your butcher to slice thin for you; may use chicken or beef)
  • 1 package of Asian noodles
  • 5 cups bean sprouts
  • 2 bunches of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 bunches of green onions, sliced

Garnish:

  • 5 limes
  • Sriracha or favorite chili sauce
  • hoisin sauce

Instructions

  1. Place bones on a baking sheet and bake at 375F for 30 minutes.
  2. Place bones in a large soup pot, add a gallon of water and next 8 ingredients .
  3. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours covered, drain broth in another pot through a fine sieve or through cheese cloth.  Toss out the bones and solids.  Bring the broth up to a simmer.  Add fish sauce, salt and sugar.
  4. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  5. In large bowls, add cooked noodles, meat, broth and then top with the vegetables.
  6. Garnish as desired.

Notes

  • May use any meat and broth combination.
  • For smaller portions, freeze half of the broth to use on another day.
  • Make for large gatherings.
  • For less sodium, add to taste and use lite salt.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 533Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 1702mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 44g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

scott

Wednesday 4th of December 2019

Great recipe. I've made it 6-7 times. With one stop at Penzey's spices you can get all the spices. Just as good as the pho you get at restaurants.

Tina

Saturday 7th of December 2019

Hey Scott, so glad to hear! It will never replace he real thing but if you don't have two days to develop your broth, it's a great solution:). I love this soup too! It's one of my favorites. Honestly though, picking my favorite soups is like picking my favorite child. Onward friend, thanks for letting me know.

Britt @ A Lil' Sweet, Spice, & Advice

Monday 19th of March 2018

Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous! I love Pho and have made it a few times at home. Loving your tip about straining the liquid after the first ten minutes of boiling to prevent scum from forming. Going to definitely utilize that!

Tina

Tuesday 20th of March 2018

Thanks Britt! I really love photography, it'm my 'new thing'. Enjoy that Pho, it's so easy to make.

Amy Nash

Sunday 18th of March 2018

I love pho - it's so full of flavor and satisfying with all those noodles and beef. But we haven't found a good place nearby to get it and I've never tried making it at home! I'm super excited to have this easy version so that I can make this for my family!

Tina

Sunday 18th of March 2018

Try it Amy, it's pretty easy and you probably have most of the spices already. It's hard to say it's one of my favorites because so many soups are my 'favorite'. I think I'm just addicted to soup:)

Amanda

Sunday 18th of March 2018

I adore a good bowl of Pho. Unfortunately, we don't have many options in my town for a "good bowl" haha. I'm so excited to make it at home. Your recipe looks simply wonderful, and I can't wait to smell the wonderful aromas from my kitchen when this is cooking!

Tina

Sunday 18th of March 2018

You HAVE to try it Amanda, it's really easy. It's mostly hands off cooking and if you don't have a Pho restaurant near you, this is probably the best option, make your own! Best of luck.

michele

Friday 16th of March 2018

This was wonderful. I have always wanted to try pho, but I never seem to make it to a restaurant. It made my house smell so wonderful... and the tip about baking the bones for a clean broth... BRILLIANT! I cant wait to make it again, we simply LOVED it!

Tina

Friday 16th of March 2018

I'm so glad Michele, what a great story!

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