Vietnamese Pho Bo Soup

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Pho Bo soup, or Vietnamese beef soup, is prepared by placing razor-thin slices of raw beef in the soup bowl, then pouring piping hot soup on top to cook it. This method ensures that the beef is very tender. It is important to use the highest-quality lean beef you can find. Make sure it is grass-fed for extra omega-3s. The secret, regardless of what cut you use, is to slice the beef paper thin-easily done if the beef is partially frozen. Other protein choices that work in this soup are buffalo, venison, scallops and shrimp. If you want to try this with chicken, cook the thin slices in the pot with the rest of the soup until opaque.

*Choose organic produce whenever possible*

  • 1 quart low-sodium beef stock
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ teaspoon Sichuan pepper or chili sauce, optional
  • ½ fresh fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • ½ pound flat rice noodles
  • ½ pound grass-fed sirloin beef steak, very lean, sliced paper thin
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 large Swiss chard leaves, thinly sliced

In a large pot over medium heat, combine the beef stock, 1 quart of water, onions, ginger, garlic, basil, scallions, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, Sichuan pepper or chili sauce, if using, fennel and salt. Cook at a medium boil for 20 minutes, or until the fennel and onions are tender. Prepare the flat rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside. To serve, divide the noodles, beef, sprouts and Swiss chard among six large bowls and pour the boiling soup over the ingredients to cook them. The beef should cook within a few minutes. Once it does, serve immediately. Serves 6.

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© 2010 by Stephen Sinatra, MD, Jim Punkre and Rebecca Bent. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Bottom Line Books.

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