By Noel Christmas
March 05, 2015
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Here's how to make pho soup at home.

Photo by James Lane

If you haven't had pho (pronounced f-uh) before, it's a Vietnamese soup with thin-sliced beef, rice noodles, vegetables, and herbs. The star, though, is the beef broth, which has a slightly sweet edge that is a whole universe of taste unto itself.

Note: there are plenty of other more exotic meats that can go into pho; but for today, let's just talk about the basics.

Yes, You Can Make Pho At Home

You can go the long (and authentic) route and make the stock yourself. It's pretty involved, but Chef John is here to show you how to make pho broth. He's using beef shanks here in his Spicy Vietnamese Beef Pho. For a richer stock, you could use the traditional oxtails.

The Easier Way to Make Homemade Pho

Or, you can go the simple route and buy the broth. I've used this pho broth from Pacific Foods before and it's quite good.

How easy is it when you buy the stock? You can make this recipe 8 hours faster! Here's how:

  • Prep the Noodles. Normally, rice noodles need soaking. Just follow the package instructions.
  • Slice the steak. How do you get it so thin? Freeze the raw steak for 10-15 minutes, so it's easier to manage with your sharp knife.
  • Quick note: most pho starts with raw steak—the hot stock cooks it in the bowl. But if you want it cooked before, just sear those thin slices in a skillet.
  • Heat the stock. You want it very hot (180-200 degrees, so it cooks the steak).
  • Assemble the garnishes. Don't skimp—they're seriously my favorite part. Don't forget Sriracha!
  • Pour the broth over the noodles and beef, add your garnishes, and break out the chopsticks.

Isn't that just pho-nominal? (Incidentally, "Pho" based puns are their very own cottage industry. Case in point, one of Seattle's most successful pho eateries is called "What the Pho.")