Vietnamese beef stew pho noodle soup (Pho bo sot vang) is a hearty and comforting noodle soup. This noodle soup features tender beef, flavorful broth and amazing aroma from pho spices. You can cook it on stovetop, in a slow cooker or a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot.
Overview of Vietnamese beef stew pho noodle soup (Pho bo sot vang)
Pho is one of the national dishes of Vietnam. Noodle shops sell pho on so many streets from morning to midnight, to people of different ages and from diverse backgrounds in Vietnam. In addition, pho is also among the most famous Vietnamese dishes outside of Vietnam. However, it is mainly the traditional pho noodle soup version that is well-known abroad. Some of its tasty brothers and sisters have not received much attention yet. One of those is the beef stew pho noodle soup (Pho bo sot vang).
Vietnamese beef stew pho noodle soup presents an excellent way to marry Vietnamese cuisine and French cuisine. This dish is basically a combination of beef stew and pho noodle soup. Beef stewed in red wine is one of the French-influenced dishes in Vietnam. Viet cooks then gave it the Viet soul by infusing it with aromatic Viet spices. The combination creates a wonderful pho dish which is so delicious and comforting. Many pho shops sell beef stew pho soup along with the traditional pho soup. This pho noodle soup will warm you up from head to toe this fall and winter.
Cooking Vietnamese beef stew pho noodle soup (Pho bo sot vang)
I will begin by saying cooking beef stew pho is much easier than cooking traditional pho soup, and you also need fewer ingredients.
Here are the main ingredients: beef, red wine, tomatoes, rice noodles, aromatics, and spices.
There is no fancy or hard-to-find cut of beef required here. Although you can use your favorite cuts for beef stew, I recommend using beef chuck and refrain from using very lean cuts. Chuck is full of connective tissue and fat which makes it an ideal candidate for beef stew. All the connective tissue and fat will make the beef tender like butter and give the broth rich body. Serious Eats has a great article about choosing cuts for beef stew.
You need fewer aromatics and spices to make this noodle soup than the traditional one. I use garlic, ginger, shallot, cinnamon stick, star anise, whole clove and five-spice powder. The spices add strong flavors with sweet and warm notes to the noodle soup. Therefore, taking away the spices would take away a lot of depth and complexity from the dish. You can purchase all the spices at regular Western grocery stores, Asian grocery stores and even online.
Rice noodles (banh pho) are widely available in dry form at Asian grocery stores. They come in different size, from small to extra large. As someone from the North of Vietnam, I often use medium and large-sized rice noodles, but please feel free to use the size you like. You can read more about rice noodles and the brand I recommend on my pantry page for Vietnamese pho noodles.
If you have time, it’s best to marinate the beef overnight and toast the spices and aromatics. If you’re short on time, it’s okay to skip these steps. The step I don’t recommend skipping is searing the beef really well because it helps to caramelize the meat and develop deep flavors. Sear in small batches if you have a lot of meat because overcrowding the pan will not result in a good sear with nice colors.
After searing the beef, you can continue cooking on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. It is also possible to cook it in a pressure cooker, such as an Instant Pot. You can try high pressure for 30-35 minutes. However, I would say the flavors don’t meld together as well as when you simmer it on the stovetop or in a slow cooker, but it’s still delicious and faster.
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates.
Here’s the video showing how to cook in on the stovetop:
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- 2.5 lb beef chuck
- 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 cinnamon stick (about 0.2 oz or 5g)
- 4 star anises
- 5 whole cloves (optional)
- 1 shallot
- 1 small piece of ginger (about 1 inch)
- 6 cups water
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- olive oil
- rice noodles
- scallion, finely sliced
- Cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons red wine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- black pepper
Trim off some excess fat if needed and then cut beef chuck into 1.5'' to 2'' cubes. Marinate overnight or 2-4 hours with all the marinade ingredients.
Dice onion. Remove seeds from tomatoes (optional step) and cut into wedges.
In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast star anise, cloves and cinnamon for just a few minutes until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the cloves. You can skip this step if short on time. Put all spices in a spice bag.
Peel shallot and ginger, toast in a small skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. You can skip this step if short on time.
Place a heavy-bottom pot or pan over medium high heat. Add oil, when the pan is nice and hot, add beef cubes in a single layer and sear all sides. Work in small batches if you have a lot of meat to sear. Transfer seared meat to a plate or slow cooker, depending on how you will continue to cook the dish.
Lower heat to medium. If there's a lot of drippings in the pot, discard it. Add a little more oil and then add onion. Sauté for 1-2 minutes and then add tomatoes and garlic. Sauté for one more minute to slightly soften the tomatoes and then add red wine. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the alcohol has cooked off.
Transfer the onion, tomatoes and red wine mixture to the slow cooker with the beef or add the beef back to the pot. Add the spice bag, shallot, ginger, water and fish sauce.
If using a slow cooker, cook on high for about 3 hours or to desired tenderness. If using a pot on the stovetop, simmer to desired tenderness. For pressure cooker (Instant Pot), see instructions in the recipe notes. Adjust seasoning to your liking with more or less fish sauce. If you find the soup too strong and concentrated, add some more water to dilute it.
Prepare rice noodles according to package instructions. Divide noodles into serving bowls and ladle the beef stew soup over the noodles. Top with scallion and cilantro.
If using a pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for about 30 minutes.
If you use a multi-cooker such as an Instant Pot, you can sear the beef with the Sauté function, and then sauté onions, tomatoes and cook off the wine also in the Instant Pot. Then you can either use the slow cooker function or pressure cooker function to continue cooking.