John Besh's Vietnamese Noodle Soup


From My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking, by John Besh
Photography by Andrew McMeel

"On almost any night, we love nothing more than a big, hot bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup—pho. Don't worry about the number of ingredients in this recipe. Pho is nothing more than a flavorful broth, often perfumed with star anise. Since that's not easy to find, we use Chinese five-spice powder (which has star anise in it)."

Super easy

John Besh's Vietnamese Noodle Soup


For 6 Person(s)


  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pounds rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
  • 1 pounds sliced cooked meat
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves only
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves only
  • 2 limes, quartered
  • 2 handfuls bean sprouts
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sambal chili paste

John Besh's Vietnamese Noodle Soup Directions

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic and five-spice powder and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken broth, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Taste and season with salt and pepper, and cover the pot.
  3. Divide the cooked rice noodles among 6 soup bowls. Over each bowl of noodles, scatter equal portions of sliced meat, then pour the hot broth over the noodles so that the meat is barely covered.
  4. In the center of the table, put plates of the fresh herbs, limes and bean sprouts. Each person can add his own fresh herbs and bean sprouts to the soup. Squeeze limes over the top, season with hoisin and chili, stir well and start slurping.