Wednesday 15 August 2018

Pho Soup with Meatballs

When Joe was in Canada in May, fare-welling Priss he enjoyed this Vietnamese soup on several occasions and wanted to make it from scratch when he got home. We looked on-line at various recipes and came up with this blend that he says is better than restaurant quality. It looks rather time consuming but the main ingredient is the stock and by using a crock-pot we can leave it to cook itself.
The need to peel anything as you strain the stock once it's cooked...

Now this is where you can use the cheapest meatiest 'bones' you can buy...they need some meat left on them to add to the soup bowl. We have used oxtail this time but we saw some lovely meaty bones this week that would have worked well. It looks a long list of spices but once you have them you should have enough to make several pots of stock. I make it in a large slow cooker/crock-pot but it can be done on the stove-top too....just toss everything in as you will be straining it once cooked.
This amount makes a very rich stock that can be diluted to taste:

800gms or so of beef bones/oxtails
large brown onion, unpeeled and roughly chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, unpeeled and roughly chopped
golf ball sized piece of fresh ginger also unpeeled and roughly chopped
4"/10cm stick of cinnamon
4 whole star anise
6 each of cloves and whole cardamon pods
20 black peppercorns
1/4 cup fish sauce
2t sugar
1t salt

Cover with warm water so that everything is well sub-merged and cook for around 8 hrs.
NB Let it cool somewhat before straining/sieving the stock...we didn't the first time and Joe badly burned his hand in the hot fat. The raw oxtail bones...

We use a sieve to strain the stock...purists may use cheese-cloth but it's really not the onion etc to get all the juice out...

If you have time let it sit in the fridge so that the fat comes to the can remove it more easily then. This jug holds 1200mls which is enough for 4-6 bowls of soup...taste it first though as it may be too strong for your liking, dilute it with boiling water...

 Take the beef off the bones and set aside... reserved beef...

 Now these are an optional will have cooked beef from the bones and thinly sliced steak so it's up to you whether you 'need' them or not...

500gms minced pork
1 beaten egg
2 slices of white bread processed into crumbs
3T fish sauce
1 level teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice

Mix thoroughly and shape into 28 walnut sized balls
I prefer to steam mine but they could be gently fried or baked
I use 4 of these, halved per bowl of soup and freeze the rest, cooked, for future soups.

The Soup

for each bowl

1x 220 gm pack 'Wok ready' thin rice noodles, Asian section of supermarkets, we use Kan-Tong brand
1 cup of bean sprouts
50-60 gms of very thinly sliced steak, this cooks in the hot broth
2T the cooked beef off the bones
thinly sliced onion and or spring onion
to serve...
lime or lemon juice
thinly sliced chilli, optional
handful of coriander leaves or better still Vietnamese mint if you can get it
Sriracha chilli sauce and Hoisin sauce served on the side in small dishes, the noodles are dunked into one sauce and then the other for authenticity (these are a 'gotta') :D

I re-heat the stock in a sauce-pan then add in the following order...

cooked beef from bones

Pour into large soup dish, top with raw sliced steak and serve with the beansprouts, sauces, fresh herbs and lime juice etc and a large napkin!

This makes enough for Joe to have 4 very large bowls(must confess it's not my cup of tea)so I freeze the remaining stock in 3 containers to use one by one.

I hope this takes out some of the mystery behind this popular dish, once the stock is cooked it all comes together very quickly.

ăn tốt Vietnamese for 'eat well'

this is the soup Joe enjoyed one night in Montreal...


  1. I've heard about this soup but had no idea what was on it. Sounds delicious .

  2. I'm definitely going to try this. Thank you Sue.

  3. Oh nice! I have most of that on hand. Defiantly will be making it. I’m not so confident at using Asian/aromatic spices but I have been experimenting of late and enjoying it immensely. Xx

    1. Hi Emma how lovely to connect with you again ...hope all the family is well xxx

  4. Sounds delicious! I love oxtail soup! The broth is so flavorful. Your recipe sounds excellent. Crockpot meals are so convenient.

  5. Impressive culinary talent Sue! I have never made Pho. I have a recipe but never attempted. I felt intimidated. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I have heard of this but never knew what it was - thanks for the education! It actually sounds kind of good!