If you want to get a hearty bowl of Vietnamese pho noodle soup on the table within 30 minutes, look no further!
A bowl of traditional pho noodle soup requires an ingredient list of more than 20 items, plus at least six hours, to cook. It tastes great but is not really practical for everyday cooking. The other thing is, when I cook something complicated like this, I always have to cook a big portion, because it makes no sense to spend six hours on a soup that only provides one meal. Here comes the problem – I don’t really want to serve pho three days in a row, either.
So, I invented this simple solution to cure my occasional craving for pho noodle soup.
I cooked a big pot of Asian beef stock, which you can also use to create Taiwan style red cooked beef noodle soup, northern Chinese clear soup beef noodle soup, and Vietnamese pho.
How does it work?
The short answer: When I was creating the beef stock, I used the most basic Asian aromatics as the base, to build a soup base that can easily be tweaked into other styles.
Cooking the soup base for conventional pho requires a long list of herbs and aromatics. However, a majority of those ingredients overlap with those found in other Asian beef noodle soups, including ginger, green onion, cloves, star anise, coriander, etc. When I used just these overlapping ingredients to make the soup base, the flavor was quite neutral. But you can easily tweak the soup into, say, Taiwanese style, by braising the beef with stronger flavored ingredients (chili bean paste, soy sauce, etc.) and blending the braising liquid into the noodle soup.
In the recipe below, we will boil this Asian style soup base with a few signature pho ingredients to make it more Vietnamese flavored – that means stronger tones of cloves, star anise, and fish sauce.
All you need to do is boil the stock with a few more spices while preparing the beef and veggies. Then you’ll have a hearty bowl of pho on the table in 30 minutes. I admit, the flavor of the quick version isn’t quite the real deal, but if it only requires 1/12 of the time to prepare, I can’t complain!
Easy Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup
- 4 cups Asian beef stock (*see footnote 1)
- 1 big slice ginger
- 1 whole star anise
- 3 cloves
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 200 grams raw beef short ribs (or sirloin steak, or tenderloin) (*see footnote 2)
- 150 grams (5 ounces) dried rice noodles
- 2 green onions green part
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 cup fresh herbs mix of cilantro, basil, and/or mint
- Sriracha and hoisin sauce (or homemade hoisin sauce)
- Combine beef stock, ginger, star anise, and cloves in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Turn to medium low heat. Add ginger, star anise, cloves, light soy sauce, and fish sauce. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove all the solid ingredients and discard them. Return soup to the stove, cover, and heat over the lowest heat needed to keep it hot. If you have leftover cooked beef, you can add it into the broth now to reheat it.
- While boiling the soup, slice the raw beef against grain into thin slices. You can freeze the beef briefly, about 10 minutes, so it will be easier to slice. Prep and cut veggies and set them aside.
- Ten minutes before the beef broth is ready, bring another pot of water to a boil. Add rice noodles and cook (or soak) according to instructions, or until tender. It usually takes 3 to 8 minutes, depending on the type of noodles. Rinse with tap water and drain. Divide the noodles among the serving bowls.
- Top beef slices, without overlapping, on the rice noodles and pour the soup over them, to quickly cook the beef. If you want the beef to be cooked more thoroughly, lightly press them into the soup to heat evenly. Garnish with bean sprouts and herbs. Serve immediately with lime wedges, Sriracha sauce and hoisin sauce.
- If you boiled down your beef stock previously, you’ll need to add water to dilute it. The amount of water will depend on how concentrated your stock is. You can start by re-heating the stock to bring it back to liquid form, taste it, and adjust the strength by adding water.
If you don’t have any homemade Asian beef stock on hand, you can use store-bought beef broth instead. To make the broth taste more intense, you can refer to this recipe.
- If you have leftover braised beef from making the beef stock, you can reheat it with the soup after discarding the aromatics, and serve the beef and soup together.
Questions and Reviews
This is great!! Pho can be quite intimidating to make, but this is so simple. Thanks for posting. Pinned!
I’ve never had Pho, but it’s always been on my list to try and make!
Great idea of having the beef soup base. It is an undertaking to make the goodPho broth, I make it often, but what a great idea to have one neutral to mix up for whenever. Thanks Maggie! 🙂
Hi, I always admire your recipes and the efforts you put on them. But please don’t call this dish “Pho” as it is NOT our Vietnamese Pho, from the noodles to the spice, from the way how you prepare it to the way how it is presented. Please don’t humiliate our food. Thank you!
It’s called “easy pho,” not “authentic pho” – obviously not meant to be the most intricate version of the food…it’s a layman recipe that most of us appreciate when dealing with complex recipes and want a refined, simple version. If it wasn’t called “pho” I never would have found the recipe. I enjoyed this twist on a dish that I didn’t want or care to spend the time to make authentically. I will go to a Vietnamese restaurant for that – where sometimes they don’t even get it right 🙂 Please don’t humiliate yourself! I have seen plenty of recipes made “easy” that are not made traditionally, and they work for those of us not wanting to make authentic dishes. Love traditional pho, don’t want to make it. Love this delicious, easy recipe!
This looks delicious! Beautiful photos too. I think this needs to go on my to-make-soon list, since I love rare beef. Mmmmm!!
Happy new year, Maggie! This pho looks soo good. Just what I need for a cold winter night!
No soy sauce added. Soy sauce won’t bring Pho’s taste
But this is not technically Pho… Pho has special type of noodles; they are flat. Here’s some pictures:
What you have in the pictures is bun, not pho.
It isn’t Vietnamese Pho. The noodles isn’t right, and soy sauce isn’t necessary.
Hi Maggie! Great article! I literally just made pho the other weekend. You’re right, making a big stock of pho broth isn’t the best idea unless you plan to eat for the entire week.
Agreed with other readers that there’s no soy sauce in pho broth and the noodles aren’t the traditional “banh pho” used. BUT I do appreciate the Asian beef stock you’re included in the recipe. I looked at the Asian beef stock recipe list and it is indeed close to the pho broth minus the rock sugar and aromatics ratio. Roasted beef bones – heaven on earth!
Also we char onion halves and skinned ginger on an exposed burner and heat the aromatics on a dry pan prior to putting them into the broth. I wonder if doing those things prior to starting the 30 min broth would help intensify the quick pho flavor.
Hi Ann, thanks for the kind words and I appreciate your honest opinion. I have to admit, this is not the recipe I’m proud of because apparently I didn’t do enough research and I’ve done too many short cut in the recipe.
Re dry roasting the aromatics the char the onion and ginger, it sounds so good! I believe it adds more flavors into the broth and can make the quick broth much more interesting.
On the other hand, the more I cook, the more I realize sometimes certain things cannot be done by shortcuts. Such as a properly prepared banh pho.
I’m wondering whether it is possible to use a slow cooker to do it. It will still be quite a lot of work, but at least you don’t need to monitor the cooking process.
By the way, if you have leftover pho broth , the best way is to freeze them to make beef stew later.
Thank you for the delicious recipe! We had this wonderful meal for dinner tonight 🙂
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the dish Lindsay! Have a great week ahead 🙂
I’ve been wanting to learn to make pho for a long time, and this recipe is so great! Just made it tonight and I’m thrilled with the results.
I am also a food blogger and would love to share your recipe on my site; do you mind if I feature your blog in a post and send my readers your way? I would like to post your photo (it’s so beautiful!) to feature your recipe!
Thank you for this great recipe!
thanks this was easy and fun
So glad to hear it Saundra! Have a great day 🙂
I wish I read the comments before I made this. I did think the noodles selected for the dish was an odd choice, but that didn’t phase me as much as the soy sauce. It ruined my soup as it overpowered the other flavours of the delicate aromas that a traditional pho is known for. When I told my viet friend who has made this a dozen times and is an expert at making it, she just shook her head and was like that’s not how you make pho. However, in saying that this is probably an ok ‘cheats version’ of pho (after making adjustments) but then again it’s not really pho.
Aww man, I was so disappointed to see this recipe come from you. I really enjoy your Chinese recipes, but find it completely insulting that you would call this dish Vietnamese or pho. It’s such a gross deviation from what pho is and does a disservice to our cuisine by disseminating a recipe called that when it in no way captures the essence of the dish. Your recipe eviscerates all traces of Vietnamese pho and is missing key ingredients, such as cinnamon sticks, that give our broth complex depth and layers. My grandma would be horrified if she heard that someone made pho broth with soy sauce and served it with vermicelli rice noodles. Maybe this is reminiscent of some Chinese noodle soup, but certainly not Vietnamese pho. Do your readers a favor and tell them to go eat at a pho restaurant if they don’t want to put in the time & effort to make pho the way it was intended to be made.
I love Vietnamese Food
I made your Pho soup yesterday, and i have only had Pho once before. I absolutely love this soup! It is extremely delicious! Thank you for your recipe,
Everyone loved it thanks for making it easy to make and so very tasty
I have made this a few times now. It is so easy to make . Tastes better the next day. I used beef eye fillet. So tender. I like to add pea around as well and have also tried pak Choy in there as well.