Top | Soups

Lazy Man's Pho

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)

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This popular soup may come from Vietnam — not exactly a land of deep snows — but it really hits the spot post-Christmas, if you have leftover roast beef from Christmas dinner and want something brothy and restorative on those cold winter days between the holiday and the new year.


    1. 2 star anise
    2. 2 whole cloves
    3. 1 cinnamon stick
    4. 1 Tbsp. minced palm sugar or brown sugar
    5. 1 tsp. salt
    6. 1 tsp. pepper
    7. ½ medium yellow onion, sliced paper-thin and halved into C-shapes
    8. 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger or ½ tsp. ground ginger
    9. 1 Tbsp. nam pla (Southeast Asian fish sauce)
    10. 2 qt. beef broth (you can tackle Easy Beef Stock, but that kind of defeats the laziness purpose)
    11. ½ lb. rice vermicelli
    12. 4 scallions, chopped
    13. ½ to ⅔ lb. leftover roast beef (by weight), sliced thinly (see Note)
    1. Bean sprouts
    2. Sprigs of fresh cilantro, Thai basil, and mint
    3. Slices of fresh chile (jalapeño, serrano, or Thai chiles)
    4. Fresh lime wedges
    5. Hoisin sauce
    6. Chile-garlic sauce, such as Sriracha


    1. If you have cheesecloth, bag the star anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick and tie it off. (If you don't have cheesecloth, no prob; you'll just have to fish out the spices later by hand.) Put the spices, palm sugar, salt, pepper, onion, and ginger in a soup pot, then add the fish sauce and beef broth. Bring to a simmer, then simmer on low for about 15 minutes, until the broth is infused with the flavor of the spices. Scoop out the spices and discard.
    2. While the broth is simmering, bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add the dried noodles. Blanch for a few minutes, then drain in a colander. (The noodles should be cooked but not mushy.) Pull apart the noodles with your fingers, then divide them evenly between four serving bowls. Divide the chopped scallions and the thinly sliced beef between the four bowls.
    3. Pour the hot broth over the noodles, scallions, and beef. Serve immediately, passing the garnishes at the table.


    Rare beef is better for this dish than well-done meat, but the soup will be fine so long as the meat is sliced very thin. You can even toss thinly sliced raw meat into each bowl before ladling out the steaming broth; the meat will cook somewhat in the simmering liquid. Freeze the raw beef for half an hour before slicing it, as chilled meat is easier to slice than room-temperature meat.