Prep Time:
3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins

The whole shebang requires 3 and a half hours, but most of that is cooking the broth -- the rest of the soup takes only minutes.


For the soup:

  • 4 pounds bone marrow

  • 2 pounds beef chuck, cut in half

  • One 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, halved, and smashed

  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved

  • ¼ cup fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 10 star anise, toasted

  • 5 cloves , toasted

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 pound thick rice noodles, cooked

  • ¼ pound beef sirloin, partially frozen, sliced paper thin

For the garnish:

  • 5 scallions, white and light-green parts only, sliced diagonally

  • ½ cup bean sprouts

  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves

  • 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced

  • 1 lime, cut into quarters


  1. In a large stockpot, bring 5 quarts water to a boil. In a second pot, add bone marrow, beef chuck, and water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes (to get rid of all impurities). Using tongs, transfer the meat and bones into the first pot of boiling water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and skim off fat.

  2. Add ginger, onion, fish sauce, and sugar. Simmer for 2 hours. Wrap star anise and cloves in cheesecloth, tie with kitchen twine, and place in broth. Allow to infuse until broth is fragrant, about 30 minutes more.

  3. Over a fine-meshed sieve lined with cheesecloth, strain broth into a bowl. Submerge bowl in an ice bath and cool. (If broth is not clear, strain again with a fresh piece of cheesecloth.) Season with salt and pepper.

  4. To serve, divide noodles and beef slices among 4 bowls. Bring broth to a vigorous boil and ladle into bowls. Garnish with scallions, bean sprouts, basil leaves, chile, and lime.

Cook's Notes

It's important to get it as clear as possible to avoid a greasy taste and texture, which is why you start it in one pot and transfer it to another. For best results, make it the day before, refrigerate overnight, and skim the fat off the top before reheating. All of the ingredients can be purchased at an Asian grocer.

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