PHO BO – The classic Vietnamese soup recipe

by Jan Vasil
PHO BO – The classic Vietnamese soup

Pho bo is the ultimate classic in a global cookbook. I have cooked it a couple of times before and it always turned out very yummy. The main point with it is to slowly cook the bullion from bones for several hours, dry roast the spices, and “grill” some vegetables. Following these steps will turn it into a delicious soup, which is perfect for cold days like this.

The recipe is very simple even though it might take a couple of hours to cook it. But don’t worry, once you have it prepared, it will cook by itself 🙂 And then the only thing to do will be to serve it with garnishes and sauces and eat it of course 🙂

PS: in case you would like to cook a VeGaN version of PHO BO, then check out my recipe here.

PHO BO – The classic Vietnamese soup
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PHO BO – The classic Vietnamese soup recipe

PHO BO – The classic Vietnamese soup recipe

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Recipe by Jan Vasil Course: Lunches, Recipe bookCuisine: VietnameseDifficulty: Medium


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  • 1 ginger root (thumb sized)

  • 2 pieces of whole cinnamon sticks

  • 2-3 pcs of star anise

  • 1 teaspoon of cloves

  • 4-6 green (or black) cardamoms

  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds

  • 1 onion

  • 2 shallots

  • 1kg of beef bones (knuckle, oxtail)

  • 300g of beef meat (without bones)

  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon of salt

  • One lime

  • flat rice noodles

  • 1 red chili pepper

  • bunch of spring onions

  • fresh mint leaves (you can also use fresh Thai Basil leaves)

  • bunch of fresh coriander leaves

  • bean sprouts (I used a mixture of more types and not only the “mung” bean)

  • Optionally: hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce


  • Place the beef bones in a large pot filled with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the bones on high heat for 5-10 minutes. After a while, a foam with leftover parts will raise on top. Once this will happen dump out the whole pot and rinse the bones well under running water. Wash the pot clean.
  • Put the parboiled and rinsed bones back into a large stock pot and fill it with water, about 5 liters. (If you use the same pot, make sure you wash it clean before putting the bones back. It is very crucial for clear bullion). Add 1 peeled onion, 1 tbsp salt, and 1 tbsp sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat. Occasionally take off the scum and the fat from the top of the bullion. Do not cover the pot, otherwise, the bullion may lose its clarity.
  • PHO BO aroma:
  • Slice the ginger into thin slices and half the shallots. In case you have an open gas stove, grill the ginger slices, star anise, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, and shallots until they will turn black. If you have a closed cooking place (induction for example) then heat up a bigger pan until it will start to smoke a bit. Grill all the spices until they will release a beautiful fragrance (30 seconds will be ok), set aside, and then grill the shallots and the ginger slices. The best is to place the grilled spices into bigger tea/spice bags and then add them to the bullion. If you do not have the bags just place all the spices into the bullion. Cook uncovered for a minimum of 2 hours.
  • Before serving take out the beef meat and place it in cold water. This will preserve the meat from getting dry and turning dark. Slice the meat, and chilies, chop the spring onions and cook your rice noodles. Drain the bullion using a sifter into a second pot and discard the bones and the leftovers.
  • Serving proposition: fill the bowl up to 2/3 with cooked rice noodles, add the meat and pour over with bullion. Then sprinkle with chili, spring onions, and bean sprouts. Add a slice of lime and drizzle it with hoisin and sriracha sauces. Place some coriander and mint leaves on top and enjoy 🙂

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PHO BO – The classic Vietnamese soup
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PHO BO – The classic Vietnamese soup
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