Vietnamese Pho Soup

September 30, 2013 by Ali

How To Make Pho Soup |

One of the items on my cooking bucket list for years has been to learn how to make pho soup. A big bowl of comforting, warm, aromatic, fresh, piled-high-with-garnishes, awkward-to-pronounce-but-awesome-to-taste Vietnamese pho.

Pho is one of my most comforting of comfort foods. I love it on snowy winter days and in the blazing heat of summer. I love it at my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Kansas City, and I love finding new Vietnamese restaurants when I travel. I love it when I’m feeling great, and it is definitely my preferred noodle soup of choice (sayonarra, chicken noodle!) when I’m sick. Totally not kidding — when I caught a cold in Barcelona this past winter, I skipped tapas for a night and tracked down the one Vietnamese restaurant in the neighborhood for a steaming hot bowl of pho. It hit the spot — as did the glass of sangria that came with it. When in Spain… :)

Still, as much as I love discovering and frequenting good Vietnamese restaurants, I’ve always wanted to learn how to make pho at home. So this week, I finally made it happen. And now I have zero idea why I waited so long — it is so easy!

How To Make Pho Soup |

I always tend to judge a pho soup by its broth, which I prefer to be full of strong flavor with a hint of star anise. This is, of course, best when made from scratch. But for those looking to make this more of a 30-minute meal, I’ve included a little shortcut for just simmering some key seasonings in pre-made beef broth, which turned out to be surprisingly good.

You can also add in all sorts of different proteins to your pho (beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, etc.), or just go with the veggies and noodles. Just be sure to slice all of these raw meats about as thin as they can go, and then drop them in the steaming hot broth to cook. I happened to have some leftover thin-cut steak, so used it to make beef pho for these photos. (Note: I would typically slice the beef much more thinly than in the photos, but even the 1/4-inch thickness turned out to be just fine.)

Also, if you don’t have access to an Asian market with rice noodles (I choose the package labeled “pho”), feel free to use fettuccine noodles.

Everyone loves their pho a slightly different way, so feel free to personalize this recipe with the toppings and ingredients you love. But if you love pho, I hope you’ll give it a try!

How To Make Pho Soup |

Vietnamese Pho Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: About 4 servings


  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly minced
  • 3 whole star anise (optional if you don't like the flavor)
  • 3 whole cloves (talking about the spice, "cloves")
  • 1 (3-inch) knob of ginger, sliced into coins
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • (optional: 2 Tbsp. fish sauce)
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 package pho rice noodles (look for the word "pho" on the package)
  • 12 ounces steak, very thinly sliced against the grain (I used flank steak)
  • Garnishes: bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, fresh ginger slices, lime wedges, thinly-chopped green onions, thinly-sliced jalapenos, Thai basil


Stir together beef broth, water, onion, garlic, star anise, cloves, ginger, cinnamon stick (and fish sauce, if using) in a large stockpot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package instructions. (If your package of noodles -- like mine -- did not have instructions, simply bring a large pot of water to a boil. Then cook the noodles until al dente, about 3 minutes.) Immediately drain the noodles, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

When you are ready to serve the soup, fill the serving bowls about halfway full with noodles. Then cover with the hot broth, and immediately stir in the steak so that it cooks. Top with your desired garnishes.

(*Most people stir the cilantro, ginger, lime, jalapenos and Thai basil into the broth to give it extra flavoring, but you don't necessarily need to actually eat those ingredients whole.)

How To Make Pho Soup |

About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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38 thoughts on “Vietnamese Pho Soup

  1. Hello Ali,
    I am a volunteer for the global organization Room to Read. I live in New Jersey and am creating a fundraiser cookbook for Room to Read. I am collecting recipes from the 10 countries RtR operates in. I would love to include your Pho recipe for our Vietnam chapter with your permission. I will list your name and website in the book. It is a local cookbook project, similar to a local church cookbook, and will have an ebook version as well. If you have any questions about Room to Read or the book, please ask. Nicole Smith

    - Nicole Smith

  2. Thst is the best soup ever. I discovered it at a hole in a wall restaurant.That not the name of the place that’s jist what I named it in Texas.

    - Pruitt

  3. I love your recipes, quick, to-the-point and easy to follow. Lovely pictures too! Can’t wait to try the Pho.

    - Dawn

  4. This looks fantastic! Have you made the broth and then frozen it to use it later? I often run home for lunch and don’t have but 15 minutes to prepare something. Even at that, I have 10 minutes to eat and then back to the office. I often have most of these ingredients on hand so I could whip it up quick if the broth was ready.

    - Patty

  5. Thanks for the recipe! I’m going to KC in January–where should I eat Pho?

    - Tonya

  6. Thank you SO MUCH! Ive been searching how to make the Pho Soup using the broth. :-)

    - Kmmy

  7. Gorgeous!! I LOVE pho, and we have a homemade version too, but my husband has literally beefed it up over the years… still yummy, but doesn’t bear tons of resemblance to the classic anymore. Yours looks heavenly, I’m going to have to try it, see if I can re-convert him!

    - April

  8. So excited to give this recipe a try. Pho is one of my husband’s favorite dishes but I’ve been too intimidated to give it a try. The step by step makes me think I can totally give this a whirl. Thanks for sharing!

    - JJ @ My Chicken Fried LIfe

  9. Love any kind of Asian food and this one looks so especially good! Thank you so much for sharing, love your blog! :)

    - Nichole @ Green Cuisine Queen

  10. Pho is the best! I love that the broth is steeped with whole spices. It has the best flavor! Yours looks wonderful!

    - Natasha

  11. Pho is our soup of choice right when we have the first signs of a cold. Nips it in the bud! It’s my favorite, Kellan too. Whenever we drive past our favorite pho spot he says “NOODLE SOUP! NOODLE SOUP!” It’s adorable I tell you.

    - Des

  12. Pho is my phooooooovorite! That almost worked.

    - Bev @ Bev Cooks

  13. I love pho :) this looks like it is bursting with flavor!

    - Nutmeg Nanny

  14. Where do I even begin with this gorgeous soup?? It looks soooooo good! Making me super-hungry! Thanks for sharing. :)

    - Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective

  15. Pho has been on my bucket list too! You’ve really created such a gorgeous bowl of pho – it never looks this pretty at the restaurant – well done!

    - Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

  16. This is the kind of comfort food I need right now!

    - Gaby

  17. looks delicious!

    - Yvonne

  18. I love pho! My sister is from Laos and makes Viet pho all the time. Have you tried Pho Good on Shawnee Mission Parkway?

    - Jess

  19. Looks wonderful, wish I had a bowl in front of me right now! :)

    - Amanda

  20. I was just reading about pho and I can’t wait to make a veggie version!

    - Abby @ The Frosted Vegan

  21. I love pho, yours looks gorgeous!

    - Laura (Tutti Dolci)

  22. Love Pho! I share the same thoughts as you on eating this when you’re feeling under the weather (with several tablespoons of Sriracha!). I’ve read on some other recipes that if you first roast the onion/garlic/ginger in the oven and get them nice and brown, it brings out the flavors even more. Thanks for sharing!

    - Nadia

  23. Simply gorgeous! I’m curious, what restaurant is your fav in KC? Need to visit when I’m back sometime:)

    - Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain

  24. I can’t wait to try this! However, what is the 6th ingredient on the list?

    - Bridgette

  25. This sounds lovely. I love pho and have been wanting to make it at home for ages. Just a quick question though, if I wanted to use chicken, should the broth still be beef based or should I use chicken stock instead??

    - Mysweetdragon

  26. pho is one of my favorite thing – I will definitely be checking this post again :) thanks for the shortcut.

    - Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health

  27. Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! I seriously cannot wait to make this once the coldness hits NYC. And those photos are as gorgeous as ever.

    - ashley - baker by nature

  28. Simple, but obviously delicious!!! Awesome recipe and amazing photos! Love your blog, so glad I stumbled upon it :)

    - Ali @ Inspiralized

  29. I have hear so many great things about this soup, but never had it! Now it the time. Your photos are gorgeous and it just looks so good!

    - Tieghan

  30. YES!!! I want this every single day. I have never tried it with beef at home but I need to now! Gorgeous photos!!

    - Liz @ The Lemon Bowl