2000s Recipes + Menus

Southeast Asian Beef and Rice-Noodle Soup

Serves8 to 10 (main course)
  • Active time:45 min
  • Start to finish:3 1/2 hr
February 2009
Inspired by Vietnamese pho (pronounced “fuh”), this soup creates its own broth as meaty short ribs and beef shank simmer with ginger, garlic, chile, and the sweet spice of star anise and cinnamon—supermarket ingredients that come together with slippery rice noodles to produce a wonderfully fragrant and authentic-tasting dish. It’s a great choice for a party, because everyone gets to customize their bowl to their own taste with a spritz of lime, some fiery Sriracha sauce and sweet hoisin, and a scattering of mint and cucumber.

View more of our favorite recipes from this issue.
  • 3 lb meaty beef short ribs
  • 3 lb beef shank in 2 or 3 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 (1-inch) pieces peeled ginger, smashed
  • 1 bunch scallions, white parts smashed and greens chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 (4-inch-long) fresh red or green chile, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 qt water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 14 oz dried flat Asian rice noodles
  • Accompaniments:

    mint sprigs; thinly sliced seedless cucumber; Sriracha and hoisin sauces; lime wedges
  • Pat meat dry. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in an 8- to 10-qt heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown meat in batches (do not crowd), about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter.
  • Cook onion, ginger, white parts of scallions, garlic, and chile in remaining Tbsp oil in same pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 12 minutes.
  • Add water, soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon stick, and meat (with juices) and simmer, covered, until meat is tender but not falling apart, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  • Transfer meat with tongs to a cutting board. Discard bones and membranes, then cut meat across the grain into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Strain broth through a sieve lined with a double layer of dampened paper towels set into a large saucepan. Discard solids. Skim off fat. Season broth with salt, then return meat to broth and reheat.
  • Meanwhile, add noodles to a 4-qt pot of unsalted boiling water and let stand off heat, covered, until softened, 4 to 8 minutes. Drain and divide among large soup bowls. Add scallion greens and ladle in soup.
Cooks’ note: Soup, without noodles, can be made 3 days ahead. Chill meat in broth (covered once cool). Remove any solidified fat before reheating.
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