Beef and Noodle Soup

  • Serves

    serves 6-8


Vietnamese noodle soup, known as phở (pronounced fuh, with a rising intonation), is a study in texture contrasts.


  • 6 lb. oxtails or meaty beef bones
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 turnips, quartered
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 (3") piece fresh ginger, crushed
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
  • Vietnamese fish sauce (nýớc mắm)
  • 1 lb. dried flat rice noodles
  • Vegetable oil
  • 5 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 7 fresh hot red chiles (Thai or serrano), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup fresh holy or sweet basil leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 12 lb. top sirloin, thinly sliced
  • Hoisin sauce


Step 1

For 6–8 cups broth, combine oxtails, onions, turnips, star anise, cloves, ginger, cinnamon stick, lime leaves, and 4 quarts water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium, skim foam, and stir in 1 tbsp. fish sauce. Simmer, adding water as needed to cover bones, for 5 hours. Strain and set aside. (Broth improves if refrigerated overnight; skim before heating.)

Step 2

Soak noodles in a bowl of hot water until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, heat 1'' oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and fry until golden, 4–7 minutes; drain on paper towels.

Step 3

Bring broth to a simmer over medium heat. Arrange shallots, bean sprouts, scallions, chiles, cilantro, basil, and lime wedges on a platter. Divide noodles and sirloin between soup bowls, cover with hot broth, then add vegetables and herbs as desired and season to taste with lime, fish sauce, and hoisin sauce.

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