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Pho (Vietnamese Beef Soup) | Long Quick and Express Versions

Luke Nguyen’s Pho is one of the best-tasting versions of this aromatic Vietnamese Beef Soup I’ve ever tried, but it does take a while to make. If you’ve got the time, go for it, or checkout the 2 much quicker versions below.

Pho Vietnamese Beef Soup

Pho, pronounced “fuuur” or “fahr”, is a light but very aromatic beef broth, served with rice noodles, cooked brisket and slices of raw beef. It is gluten, dairy and egg free and can be served with chicken as well. A good Pho is said to have medicinal properties almost like the chicken soup, because it contains lots of sodium, potassium and chloride – natural electrolytes. Nutrition facts aside, Pho’s flavour is heavenly. The soup is light in consistency, like a broth or bouillon, but has a rich, sweet flavour.

Pho Vietnamese Beef Soup

As mentioned, it is served with a topping of paper-thin slices of raw beef and a garnish of bean sprouts, sliced onion, fresh chilli and fresh springs of Thai basil. Don’t be alarmed, or put-off by the thought of the paper-thin slices of raw meat as they cook almost instantly  in the steamy broth as its poured into the bowls. 

Now, I have never been to Vietnam, but from what I’ve heard from those who have been and from what I know of Vietnam’s most famed dishes, I would love it there. I mean I often have Malaysian curry laksa for breakfast, so having a steaming bowl of Vietnam’s famous Pho for breaky would be quite up my alley.

Pho Vietnamese Beef Soup

Luke Nguyen’s Pho | The Long Version

The recipe below is for Luke’s Pho (from Songs of Sapa, Murdoch Books) that takes a good few hours to make. Gluten, wheat, dairy and egg free.

Essential Asian Cookbook Pho | The Quick Version 

If you want to make a quicker version of Pho, the Essential Asian Cookbook (also by Murdoch Books), suggests simmering regular beef stock with spices (feel free to use Luke’s spice pouch suggestion below) for 30 minutes before straining, adding noodles and all the extra trimmings. Gluten, wheat, dairy and egg free.

Asian Home Gourmet Pho | The Express Version

For an express 10-minute version, get yourself a Vietnamese Pho spice paste from Asian Home Gourmet, and follow the instructions on the packet. The great thing about the paste is that it is all natural and additive free but it does contain wheat/gluten.

Pho Vietnamese Beef Soup

Pho Vietnamese Beef Soup
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Pho (Vietnamese Beef Soup) | Long Quick and Express Versions

While Luke's recipe is the best I've tried, it does take a good half a day to make. If you want to make an express version of Pho, the Essential Asian Cookbook (also by Murdoch Books), suggests simmering regular beef stock with spices for 30 minutes before straining and adding noodles and all the extra trimmings. Adapted from Luke Nguyen | Songs of Sapa (Murdoch Books).
Servings: 4


For the Pho Spice Pouch:

  • 1/4 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tbsp Sichuan pepper
  • 1/4 tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 3 cardamom seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 10 cm cassia bark
  • 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 40 cm square piece of muslin or gauze cloth

For the Pho Stock:

  • 500 g oxtail chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 small unpeeled garlic bulb
  • 4 large unpeeled onions
  • 75 g unpeeled fresh ginger
  • 500 g beef bones
  • 1 kg beef brisket)
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 40 g brown sugar
  • Spice Pouch - see above

To serve:

  • 600 g fresh rice noodles or 200g stick rice noodles prepared according to instructions
  • 250 g beef filet sliced thinly across the grain

Trimmings on the side:

  • Bean sprouts
  • Sliced onion
  • Sliced Chillies
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Thai basil purple
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


To make the Spice Pouch:

  • Dry roast all ingredients in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant. Cool then grind using a mortar and pestle.
  • Add the ground spices to the muslin square and tie up tightly in a knot. Set aside.

To prepare the Oxtail:

  • In a large pot, submerge oxtail in cold water, add 2 tablespoons salt and soak for an hour, then drain.

To prepare the Garlic, Onions and Ginger:

  • Heat a barbecue grill or pan over medium-high heat and grill unpeeled garlic, onions and ginger evenly for 15 minutes until all asides are blackened. Peel the blackened skins and discard them. Roughly chop the garlic, onion and ginger.

To make the Pho Stock:

  • Put the drained oxtail, beef bones, (brisket, if using), and 12 cups of cold water in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for 15 minutes constantly skimming any impurities off the surface. Reduce to a low simmer.
  • Add fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, brown sugar, garlic, onions, ginger and spice pouch.
  • Cover and simmer for 3 hours, or until the stock has reduced to almost half.
  • Strain the stock through a muslin cloth-lined sieve.
  • (Remove the brisket, if using, set aside to cool then slice thinly)

To serve:

  • Blanch rice noodles in boiling water for 20 seconds. Drain and divide between serving bowls.
  • (Place a few brisket slices in the bowl, if using)
  • Arrange a few slices of raw beef fillet on top of the noodles and pour over hot Pho stock.
  • Garnish with a handful of bean sprouts, sliced onion, chillies.
  • Serve with a lime wedge, Thai basil and black pepper on the side.
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Minxie September 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Gorgeous recipe and colours in these photos and I will definitely use Luke’s spice bag for my next Pho. Thanks for sharing.

Sebastien September 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Hi Martyne, this soup is magnifique! I tried this in Vietnam and never know how to make it so this article is a lot of help. Très bien! I will make for sure.

[email protected] September 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I’m ashamed to say I had pho just a couple of times on my last trip to Vietnam but what I had was sensational. Incredible, actually! Thanks for the shout out!

Lizzy (Good Things) September 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Great post. Love a good pho!

jen @ the happy purpose September 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm

i dont mind Pho but my husband absolutely loves. i think i might have to surprise him with it next weekend for our Festival of the Dad! pics are beautiful too

Jackie September 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Although I’m happy to see you’re promoting a wonderful Vietnamese dish, I have to tell you that it is NOT “fur.”

Martyna @ Wholesome Cook September 14, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Hi Jackie thanks for the note… I probably should have made it clear that it was a long “u” or “aah” – corrected now. :-)

gaby @ lateraleating September 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Nothing like a steamy bowl of Pho. Great recap!

rsmacaalay September 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm

For me the long version is the best, taking time with dishes like this brings the best flavours in them

Nami | Just One Cookbook September 19, 2012 at 4:28 am

I love pho!!! I eat at least once a week, but I have to admit that I never made it at home…. Have to try it one day!

jen @ the happy purpose September 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm

hi martyna, do you know where they stock this packet that you refer to? i went to three different supermarkets today – two woollies and one coles and they didn’t have. (i want to make for my husband for dinner tomorrow night but with two little people i dont have the stamina to make your beautiful looking long version!) any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Martyna @ Wholesome Cook September 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

Hi Jen, I buy the AHG pastes from an Asian Supermarket at Top Ryde. Will send you an email with more info.

PB and Peppers (@JenatPBandP) September 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I never had Pho soup, looks like i have been missing out! This looks yummy!!

ROBYN LITTLE September 21, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Was having a discussion with a friend recently about how to pronounce Pho. After Googling it, turns out we were both wrong, then within days you posted this. I haven’t ever tried Pho either, so maybe the universe is sending me a message! Must try it sometime soon. Looks totally delicious.


Arlo October 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

Hi Martyna

I am such a Pho fan and have been looking in every asian supermarket for the paste with no luck. any suggestions?

Thanks in advance

Vitenamese Salad Rolls – Bánh Mì | Wholesome Cook January 12, 2017 at 6:55 am

[…] chains have opened up shop all over Sydney offering salad rolls and other Vietnamese classics like pho and rice paper rolls. But they can be easily made at home, too. Chicken or various pork cold cuts […]


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