This delicious homemade pho recipe is inspired by the Vietnamese soup we all know and love, yet made with a few time-saving shortcuts.
Pho Broth Ingredients:
- 1 large white onion, peeled and halved
- 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, halved lengthwise
- 5 star anise
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- 8 cups good-quality beef stock (or chicken or vegetable stock)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- fine sea salt, to taste
Pho Soup Ingredients:
- 8 ounces raw steak*, very thinly sliced
- 7 ounces uncooked thin rice noodles
- garnishes: fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, and/or Thai basil), bean sprouts, lime wedges, thinly-sliced chiles (Thai bird chiles or jalapeños), thinly-sliced onions (green onions or white onions), sauces (hoisin and/or sriracha)
- Char the onions and ginger*. Turn the oven broiler to high, and place the baking rack about 8 inches away from the heating elements. Place the onion and ginger cut-side-up on a baking sheet, and brush with a bit of oil. Broil for about 7-10 minutes, until the tops of the onion and ginger are slightly charred. Remove and set aside.
- Make the broth. Meanwhile, heat the anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and coriander to a large stockpot over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes until fragrant. Add in the charred onion, ginger, stock, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the broth reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Strain out (and discard) the onions, ginger and spices. Stir in the fish sauce and sweetener into the hot broth. Then finally, taste and season the broth with salt as needed.
- Prep the noodles. Meanwhile, as your broth is simmering, cook the noodles separately al dente according to the package instructions. Drain in a strainer, then briefly rinse the noodles with cold water to prevent them from continuing to cook. (I also recommend tossing the noodles with a drizzle of oil — such as sesame oil — to prevent them from sticking.)
- Assemble. Now the fun part! Add a handful of noodles to each individual serving bowl. Portion the steak between each serving bowl. Then ladle the still-simmering hot broth into the serving bowls, being sure to submerge the steak completely so that it gets cooked*. Top each bowl with lots and lots of garnishes, and finish with a squeeze of lime juice.
- Serve immediately. Encouraging everyone to stir the garnishes into the soup so that they can flavor the broth, also adding in additional extra sauces if desired.
Thinly slicing the steak: You can use any kind of lean steak, very thinly sliced against the grain. (I recommend freezing the steak for 30-60 minutes beforehand, to make it easier to slice.) It’s very important that the meat is very thinly sliced in order for it to cook quickly in the broth and have a tender texture. If you prefer the steak to be well done, see the alternate option for cooking the beef below.
Alternate meat cooking option: Instead of cooking the thinly-sliced steak in the individual serving bowls, feel free to instead stir the steak directly into the stockpot of simmering broth to ensure that it is fully cooked. Then ladle the broth and beef together into the individual serving bowls.
Alternate charring option: Instead of broiling the onion and ginger in the oven, you can also just cook them cut-side-down in a sauté pan over high heat until charred.
Double batch: Again, I highly recommend making a double batch of this recipe while you’re at it! To do so, you will need a large stockpot (at least 5 quarts) to handle the quantity of broth.