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In the past month, Virginia weather has ranged from early spring to cold winter. All the better reason to have a good soup ready to eat under some nice warm blankets from the comfort of your home. This week Sunday Supper is bringing you soup recipes to warm your body and soul.
My recipe this week is pho soup. For those who aren’t familiar, pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with either beef or chicken. It is a flavorful broth infused with Vietnamese spices, and served with noodles, beef, and fresh garnish. The beef is sliced very thin and added raw to the hot broth, which cooks the meat in a matter of minutes.I was introduced to it when I moved to D.C. and fell in love with it.
One of the keys to a good pho is a stock made from beef bones. One of the tricks to creating a clear soup is to parboil the bones. By boiling the bones for a couple minutes before creating the stock, all of the heavy grease and impurities are boiled out of the bones. The picture above shows the bones halfway through parboil, and as you can see the water is already fairly cloudy.
Another easy method of enhancing the flavor in the soup is to lightly toast the spices before adding them to the broth. This brings out the aromatics in the spices, and releases some of the oils. By placing them in a cheesecloth bag before adding to the soup, it makes removal of the spices a lot easier.
A good pho also needs quality garnishes to add flavor to the soup. Before adding the noodles and beef to the soup, I like to prepare my cilantro, green onion, and onion so that I don’t have to chop these while the broth cools. Fresh basil, bean sprouts, lime, and peppers (I don’t have them pictured because I don’t like adding peppers to mine) are wonderful to serve on the side so people can add what they want to the soup for more flavor.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time 4 hours to overnight
Cook Time 2 1/2 hours, 10 minutes when reheating broth
Broth Ingredients
2 pounds beef bones
4 quarts water
1 onion, quartered
1 3 inch piece of ginger root, quartered
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp anise seeds
2 tsp whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup fish sauce
Ingredients per Soup Bowl
1 cup of rice noodles
10 slices of thinly cut beef sirloin
1 handful of cilantro
2 thin slices of onion
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Garnish per Soup Bowl
2 lime quarters
handful of bean sprouts
3-4 leaves fresh basil
In a soup pot, cover the bones with water. Bring the water to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the pot, and transfer the bones to a strainer. Rinse with warm water to get residual gunk off the bones. Clean the inside of the pot of any residue. Return the bones to the pot and add the 4 quarts water. Set aside.
Set the oven to broil, place the onion and ginger onto a pan and cook in the broiler for 5 minutes, until slightly charred. Add the onion and ginger to the pot.
On a pan without any oil or grease, roast the seeds, cinnamon, and cloves over medium heat for 5 minutes. Transfer the spices to a cheesecloth sheet and tie with a knot. Set aside.
Bring the stock base to a boil. Once boiling, add the spice bag, salt, and sauce to the pot. Reduce to medium heat and cover with a top. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
Once the simmering is done, remove the bones, spice bag, ginger, and onions from the pot. Let the soup cool to room temperature and then transfer it to the refrigerator for 4 hours to overnight. This will let the oil coagulate on top of the broth so you can remove it with a spoon.
Once you are ready to serve, remove the soup from the refrigerator and reheat over medium heat. You want to heat it to about a minute or two before it begins to boil. While the soup reheats, prepare your rice noodles per the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to rinse the noodles in warm water after they are cooked. When you are ready to assemble the soup, place the noodles in the bottom of the large soup bowl, and place the raw beef on top of the noodles. Add soup broth to the bowl, until the soup covers the meat. Add the scallions, cilantro, and onion to the soup. Serve with the garnish to the side, and enjoy!
Be sure to check out everyone’s soup recipes for this week’s Sunday Supper. Be sure to join us at 7pm EST tonight to participate in our twitter chat. Search for #sundaysupper for the discussion!

Do The Chicken Dance (chicken {or other poultry} soups)

Where’s The Beef (Beef Soups)

Pass The Pork. Please (Pork or Sausage Soups)

Under The Sea (Seafood Soups)

Eat Your Veggies (Chock Full o’ Vegetables Soups)

Some Don’t Like It Hot (Chilled Soups)

    • T.R. Crumbley says:

      Before I tried to make it I was definitely intimidated, I assumed it would be a really intense process. My first attempt I didn’t parboil the bones (I normally use chicken bones for most homemade broths, didn’t realize beef bones could have so much residue) so it didn’t turn out so well. After tweaking the recipe to include a parboil, it worked out way better!

  1. beate weiss-krull says:

    My entire family loves Pho and we eat it often, never at home so and always at one of our many Vietnamese restaurants here in PDX. I am so excited that you shared a recipe now I can make it at home 🙂 ~ Bea @ Galactosemia in PDX

  2. Renee Dobbs says:

    Pho is the one thing I must have when I have a cold. I love it and I believe it has healing qualities. Now that I have a recipe I won’t have to go out to get it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. trcrumbley says:

    It’s really not as taxing as you would think! But sometimes it is frustrating when the grocery store doesn’t have any spare bones!

  4. trcrumbley says:

    Thanks! I definitely had to experiment with it a bit to figure out the best way. The first two attempts did not go so well. One of them I didn’t parboil the bones and I wasn’t satisfied with the broth. Another I didn’t put the spices into a cheesecloth bag and it made straining such a pain.

  5. Alice says:

    So something I learned to enrich the broth even more is to sear the bones on all sides – and it really adds an amazing level of flavor – I hope you try it! 🙂 This looks great, pho is one of my husband’s weaknesses and we eat it all over the world!

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