Asian Broth and Beef Rice Noodle Soup

From Ching Li

2016 Mar/Apr

The secret to making flavourful Asian broth is time, patience and parboiling the bones. There are basically no ovens in Vietnam to roast bones in, so to make a clear and fragrant broth, you have to parboil them. People may think that this method of blanching the bones will dilute the flavour. It actually helps to get rid of all the impurities so that your broth is not cloudy and the slow simmering of the bones will bring out its best attributes. This techinique, plus the earthy notes from the star anise, black cardamom and dried orange peel, makes the perfect base for beef rice noodle soup.

Let me share this family recipe that has been passed down to me. Most recipes call for rock sugar to sweeten the broth. There is no need for sugar when you have daikon. Daikon does double duty as it sweetens and also clarifies the broth. Enjoy this simple, classic soup any time of the year.


Beef Broth:

  • 3 lb. beef bones
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 3 dried orange peels
  • 2” fresh ginger, crushed

Phở Bò (Beef Rice Noodle Soup):

  • 1 lb. rice noodles
  • 8 c. beef stock
  • 3-5 t. salt to taste
  • 2-6 T. fish sauce to taste
  • 1 medium daikon, cut into 1/2-inch-thick half-round slices (found at Aisian Markets)
  • 1 lb. beef tenderloin, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs Thai basil, leaves roughly chopped for garnish
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish
  • lime wedges


Parboil the beef bones by placing the bones in a large soup pot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes to rid the bones of impurities. Scoop out the foam, remove the bones and wash the pot.

Place the beef bones in the clean pot with star anise, black cardamom, dried orange peel and crushed ginger. Fill pot 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to simmer, covered, for 5 hours.

Allow the stock to cool and skim off the fat. Strain the stock through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. You may portion the stock and freeze at this point.

To make the soup, soak the rice noodles for 20-30 minutes in cold water. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and set aside.

Drain the noodles and add to the boiling water. When the water begins to boil again, use chopsticks or tongs to separate the noodles. Turn off the heat, wait one minute and drain the noodles. Add the cooked vermicelli to the bowl of cold water to remove the starch, then drain. Divide the noodles into four large soup bowls and set aside.

In a medium pot, bring 8 cups of the beef stock to a boil. Turn the heat to medium, add the salt and fish sauce to taste. Add the daikon and cook for about 20 minutes, until the daikon is tender and translucent. Turn the heat to low-simmer.

In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Fill a small strainer with slices of tenderloin and dunk into the water for about 5 seconds, using chopsticks or tongs to separate the slices. This will prevent the broth from getting cloudy. Remove the beef slices and place some into one of the large soup bowls atop the rice noodles. Repeat until all the noodles are topped with semi-cooked beef slices. Ladle the hot beef broth and slices of daikon into the bowls. Garnish with Thai basil and green onion and serve with lime wedges. Serves 4.