As the weather gets cooler, one thing that can feed your hunger and warm your soul is a steaming bowl of noodle soup packed with nutritious goodies. Instead of ordering another delivery during COVID lockdown or quarantine, maybe you can make your own Vietnamese broth. My friend Thuy Nguyen’s mother has shared a wholesome, healthy and authentic homemade pho recipe. It’s not difficult to make – all you need is some love and time to make this delicious soup.

Mrs Nguyen is from northern Vietnam, and her noodle dish recipe reflects the regional characteristics. Traditional northern pho uses a fattier broth and is garnished with diced spring onion, coriander, garlic and sliced fresh chilli. This version resembles Chinese beef rice noodle soup since northern Vietnam borders south-eastern China. Southern pho tends to use a clearer stock, and the dish is served with sides of bean sprouts, fresh sliced chilli, Thai basil leaves, lime wedges and other fresh herbs. There is also a good selection of table sauces to suit one’s taste (e.g. hoisin sauce, chilli sauce, sriracha).

Makes: 4 big bowls

Total cooking time: 8–10 hours

Beef pho broth


  • 1kg beef soup bones (shank bones are most flavourful)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved
  • 5 large slices peeled ginger
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 4L water


  1. Place the beef bones and onion halves on a baking tray and roast in a 220°C preheated oven.
  2. After 45 minutes, remove the browned onion halves. Continue to roast the beef bones for another 15–20 minites, or until browned.
  3. In a large pot, add about 4L water. Add the roasted bones, browned onion, ginger, salt, star anise and fish sauce.
  4. When the water boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 6 hours.
  5. Strain the broth. It is now ready to use to make pho noodle soup (or cool and refrigerate it for later use).

Beef pho noodle soup


  • 225g rice noodles (dried or fresh)
  • 680g beef (thinly sliced raw or cooked top sirloin, cooked brisket, tendon, beef tripe and/or beef meatballs)
  • ½ small bunch coriander, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped spring onion
  • 1 stalk spring onion, about 2 inches long
  • a few slices fresh red chilli


  1. If using fresh rice noodles, blanch them for 1 minute in boiling water. Or soak dried rice noodles for about 1 hour in hot water until soft; drain and set aside for later use.
  2. Divide the noodles amongst four serving bowls. Top with the sliced beef, chopped coriander and chopped spring onion.
  3. Pour over hot broth to submerge the noodles, beef and greens. The hot liquid will cook the thin raw sirloin slices to perfection.
  4. Garnish with spring onion and sliced red chilli.

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"Life Is a Bowl of Cherries" Living in Seattle, Washington, USA gave me lots of opportunities to explore food and beverages from the northwestern region of the country.

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