Pho (Traditional Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

Because of pho's large mix of ingredients, it seems that no two batches taste exactly alike. Many of the herbs and spices in pho can be adjusted in quantity or left out entirely, depending on preference. This recipe, adapted from Saigon R in Englewood, NJ requires a very large pot — at least 12 quarts — to make the broth. For best results, start the broth a day ahead.

Pho (Traditional Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

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  • Prep Time


  • Total Time


  • Servings



  • For the broth:

  • 10

    pounds beef bones

  • 2

    pounds stewing beef, such as chuck, rump or brisket

  • 2

    yellow onions roasted and peeled

  • 2

    knobs ginger, about 8 ounces total, roasted and peeled

  • 10 to 12

    dried cloves

  • 8 to 10

    star anise pods

  • 2

    cinnamon sticks

  • Cardamom pods or fennel seeds (optional)

  • Fish sauce, to taste

  • Sugar (preferably yellow rock sugar), to taste

  • Salt, to taste

  • For serving:

  • ½

    pound bean sprouts, blanched, plus raw sprouts for garnish

  • 2

    pounds dried of fresh banh pho noodles, soaked 25 to 20 minutes in hot water

  • 1

    pound eye round or sirloin, sliced to about 1/16-inch thickness against the grain (see note)

  • Scallions, sliced into thin rings, to taste

  • 1

    red onion, thinly sliced

  • cup cilantro or Thai basil, plus more for garnish (optional)

  • Jalapeño, thinly sliced (optional)

  • Fresh cilantro (optional)

  • Lime wedges (optional)

  • Thai red chili sauce (optional)

  • Thai plum sauce (optional)


To make the broth, fill a 12-quart pot about two-thirds with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Blanch bones and beef 1 minute, then drain, reserving beef and bones. Transfer beef and bones to a clean 12-quart pot (you can reuse the same one, provided it's washed), add about 8 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. When it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low, add onions and ginger and simmer. At regular intervals, use a ladle to skim the foam, scum and fat that settles on the surface. After 3 hours, add cloves, star anise, cinnamon and cardamom or fennel seeds, if desired. Simmer 2 hours additional. Strain, reserving broth and discarding solids (you can reserve the meat for another purpose or add to the finished dish). For best results, chill broth overnight and discard the fat that solidifies on the surface. Before serving, return stock to a boil and season with fish sauce, sugar and salt to taste. It should be rather strong, as the remaining ingredients will be unseasoned. For each serving, divide bean sprouts, noodles and raw beef among eight large bowls. Top with scallions, onion and culantro or basil. Ladle in broth, which will cook the beef (you may have leftover stock; reserve it for another use). Garnish with additional bean sprouts, jalapeño slices, cilantro, lime wedges, red chili sauce and plum sauce, if desired.


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