Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup with Mint

>> Thursday, May 21, 2015

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup with Mint

Sometimes the heart has its reasons that reason can't explain...and sometimes, so does the stomach. I started craving a fresher version of Viet beef soup in the middle of a heat wave last summer. We don't usually eat hot soup in the summertime, and eating hot foods when it's hot seemed a little weird.

Yet, my craving remained. And heck, it's mighty steamy in Vietnam most of the time, right? They still love their traditional soups and hot noodles, and after I've tasted some of them, I know they're onto something good. Turns out, spicy and heated foods can actually help us cool off by generating more perspiration. If not that, at least it gives us some perspective on what really hot means!

Beef Pho with mint
Toss in the things you like in an Asian bowl of soup

We love any version of Vietnamese Pho (pronounced fuh), and if anyone has a new recommendation between Chicago and Milwaukee, we'll jump in the car and head over there. But the five-spice powder, heavy on anise and cinnamon, seemed all wrong for my summertime craving. We took out those spices and added cool-tasting mint, cilantro, and basil leaves for freshness.

If you're serving a group, just put the vegetables on the table, spoon some broth over the noodles and beef, and let people customize their own Pho bowl.


6 ounces dried rice-stick noodles (rice vermicelli)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp grated ginger root
1/3 serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
6 cups cups beef broth
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1/2 pound beef, very thinly sliced across the grain

On the Table
3 heads baby bok choy, quartered
1/4 pound snow peas, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch strips (1 cup)
1 cup sliced green onions
6 ounces fresh bean sprouts
1/3 cup sliced mint leaves
1/3 cup sliced basil leaves
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, cut into small wedges


Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse in cold water to stop cooking, then drain. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil on high heat and then add the bok choy quarters and sear. When they begin to become tender, place them on a platter and set aside. Saute the ginger and chile for 3 minutes. Stir in the broth and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add beef and simmer 3 minutes longer.

While broth is simmering, steam the snow peas in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly tender. Place all vegetables and herbs on the table.

Place noodles into four bowls and ladle the broth on top. Bring to the tables and let each person add the vegetables they prefer.

Serves 4-5.


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