There’s no better way to warm up this winter than with a steaming bowl of Vietnamese soup. If you can’t make it to one of the top pho eateries in Australia, why not try your hand at making your own? From the aromatic phos of Northern and Southern Vietnam to heady heat of bun bo Hue in the centre of the country, and bun rieu cua’s sour broth with crab and pork, you’ll find the perfect Vietnamese soup to beat the chill this winter.
With its aromatic broth laced with spices, thinly sliced beef, slippery rice noodles and a flurry of fresh herbs, crunchy beansprouts and shaved onion, traditional pho bo is like a big warm hug from your grandma. Top your fragrant bowl of broth with rare beef (the heat from the soup will gently cook it), braised brisket, beef meatballs or, for the adventurous eaters, chewy strips of beef tendon.
The Vietnamese answer to chicken soup for the soul, pho ga is pure comfort. A mildly spiced chicken broth comes filled with poached chicken, rice noodles, beansprouts and herbs, such as Vietnamese mint and spring onion. If you want to turn up the flavour profile, add a squeeze of lime, a sprinkling of chopped red chillies, or a dash of Sriracha chilli sauce.
Hailing from Hue in Central Vietnam, bun bo hue is far more intense that its pho cousins. The rich, rust-red broth is made from pork and beef bones, which are simmered for hours then flavoured with lemongrass, chilli oil, fermented shrimp sauce and sugar. Rather than the flat rice noodles of pho, bun bo Hue uses cylindrical rice noodles, similar in shape to spaghetti but softer in texture. Traditional toppings including marinated beef shank, oxtail and pork knuckle, along with coriander, spring onion, cabbage, mint, bean shoots and perilla. This is one Vietnamese soup that packs a serious punch.
Rounding out the quartet of essential Vietnamese soups is bun rieu cua. This soup has sour notes thanks to the use of tomato and tamarind, which pairs well with the additions of crab, fried tofu and pork – traditional versions get their red hue from the addition of pork blood, but you might want to skip that when making bun rieu cua at home.
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