Hanoi Tomato Beef Soup with Vietnamese Coriander

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Tomato Beef Soup with Vietnamese Coriander, known as “canh bò rau răm” in Vietnamese, is a rustic and traditional dish often enjoyed in family meals in Hanoi. This comforting soup features tender beef and tangy tomatoes, providing a delightful burst of flavors in every spoonful.

a bowl of Hanoi Tomato Beef Soup with Vietnamese Coriander (Canh Bo Rau Ram).

This quick and easy beef soup embodies the simplicity of Vietnamese home cooking. The bright, citrusy, and peppery taste of Vietnamese coriander (rau răm) gives it a distinctive flavor and aroma.

With a perfect balance of savory, tangy, and herbal notes, it is one of our most favorite Vietnamese tomato-based soups to serve with rice. We also love that it can be cooked in one pot from start to finish.

Main Ingredients

You will need the following main ingredients to make this Vietnamese beef soup.

plates and bowls containing ingredients for Tomato Beef Soup with Vietnamese Coriander (Canh Bo Rau Ram).

Beef: Choose a tender and flavorful cut, such as sirloin or flank steak. Slice the meat against the grain into thin, small pieces. They should be smaller than beef slices for stir-fries.

If you are short on time and don’t want to bother with slicing, use ground beef instead. The soup turns out pretty good with ground beef.

flank steak being sliced thinly on a cutting board.

Tomatoes: You’ll need ripe tomatoes cut into wedges. Tomatoes provide a tangy and slightly sweet flavor, complementing the richness of the beef. Choose bright red and firm tomatoes that yield slightly to the touch for the best taste.

Vietnamese coriander (rau răm): This unique herb is essential for the soup, as it brings a bright, peppery flavor with hints of citrus. If you’re unfamiliar with this herb, you can often find it at Asian markets or specialty grocery stores. They also go very well with poultry, like in this Vietnamese chicken rice or Vietnam duck vermicelli noodle soup.

several sprigs Vietnamese coriander (rau ram) on a countertop.

A little acidity: I recommend adding a squeeze of lime juice to brighten the soup and round out all the other flavors. In Vietnam, we have many types of sour fruits we can use to add acidity to a soup. Most of them are unavailable abroad, so I tested the recipe with a bit of lime juice, and it turned out great.

Cooking Steps

While canh bò rau răm is a simple dish to cook, there are some certain tricks and nuances that make it truly delicious. We’ll cover these key elements below and explain why they are needed.

1️⃣ First, slice the beef thinly against the grain into small pieces. Marinate with salt, pepper, cornstarch, and oil for about 15 minutes. This step will help the meat retain its juice and a pleasant texture when we cook it.

a bowl of sliced beef with seasonings, cornstarch and cooking oil.

2️⃣ In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic until fragrant. I recommend using a heavy pot with a wide bottom. Add the beef to the pot and brown it until it is still slightly pink on the outside. You shouldn’t cook it all the way through at this stage.

sautéing onion and garlic in a pot.
sautéing beef in the pot.

3️⃣ Set the meat aside and add half of the tomatoes to the pot. Sauté for a few minutes until they are soft. Now, you can add water and bring the pot to a boil and skim off foam if needed.

sautéing tomatoes in the pot.
Skimming off foam from the tomato beef soup.

4️⃣ Add the remaining tomatoes to the broth, together with some lime juice. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

adding tomatoes from a plate to the soup pot.

5️⃣ Now, add the sautéed beef. Also add chopped scallion, Vietnamese coriander, and red chili if desired. Once the soup starts to boil again, transfer it to serving bowls and serve right away. Don’t overcook the beef, or it will be dry and tasteless.

adding sautéed beef from a plate to the soup.
Adding chopped scallion to the soup.
Adding Vietnamese coriander to the soup.

Substitutions

If you can’t find Vietnamese coriander, you can try using a combination of cilantro and mint (or Thai basil) as a substitute. Although the flavor won’t be the same, this combination can still provide a pleasant aroma to the soup.

If you like the soup to be heartier, you can use beef broth instead of water. For us, we prefer how light and flavorful the soup turns out with just water.

How to Serve

a bowl of Vietnamese tomato beef soup with coriander.

You can serve this Hanoi tomato beef soup with Vietnamese coriander as part of a meal with steamed rice, a vegetable dish, and one or two savory dishes. Here are some Vietnamese savory dishes that may go well with the soup:

a bowl of canh bo rau ram (Vietnamese tomato beef soup).

Tomato Beef Soup with Vietnamese Coriander

Tomato Beef Soup with Vietnamese Coriander (canh bò rau răm) is a rustic and traditional dish often enjoyed in family meals in Hanoi. This comforting soup features tender beef and tangy tomatoes, providing a delightful burst of flavors in every spoonful.
Author: Sophie
No ratings yet
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients
 

For the Beef

  • 8 oz flank steak or sirloin (or ground beef)
  • teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • teaspoons cornstarch
  • teaspoons cooking oil (plus more for cooking)

For the Soup

  • ¾ cup thinly sliced yellow onions (about half a large onion)
  • ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 lb tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • several slices of bird's eye chili (optional)
  • 2-3 scallion stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Vietnamese coriander, roughly chopped (you can use up to 1½ cups)

Instructions
 

  • Slice the beef thinly against the grain into small pieces. The pieces should be smaller than beef slices in stir-fries. Toss well with all other ingredients in the "For the Beef" section (salt, pepper, garlic, cornstarch, oil). Set aside to marinate for about 15 minutes.
  • Place a heavy pot with a wide bottom over medium heat. Once it is hot, add oil to coat the bottom. Add onion slices and sauté for 1-2 minutes until the onion is fragrant and has a light color.
  • Add the remaining minced garlic and sauté briefly until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and add the beef. Spread the meat on a thin layer and brown it until the outside is still slightly pink. Toss the beef with fish sauce, and then transfer the meat mixture to a plate, leaving just a few onion slices and small bits of beef in the pot.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add half of the tomato wedges. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until they are softened. Adjust the heat as needed.
  • Add water to the pot. Also add the remaining salt, then let the soup come to a boil. Skim off the foam if needed, and add the remaining tomato wedges along with the lime juice.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid slightly askew. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and increase the heat. Add the sautéed beef mixture and chili (if using). Give the soup a quick stir, and adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Quickly add the chopped scallion and Vietnamese coriander. Give it another quick stir, and the soup should start to boil again. Transfer to serving bowls and serve right away.

Notes

If you can’t find Vietnamese coriander, you can try using a combination of cilantro and mint (or Thai basil) as a substitute. However, the flavor won’t be the same.
For a heartier soup, you can use low-sodium beef broth instead of water. For us, we prefer how light and flavorful the soup turns out with just water. If using beef broth, adjust the seasonings as needed.
The recipe can serve 3-4 people. If you have meat lovers in the family, you can increase the amount of beef (as well as the ingredients to marinate the beef) by 50%.

Nutrition

Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 884mg | Potassium: 527mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1287IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: canh bo rau ram, Vietnamese beef soup
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