Bun Bo Hue (Hue Beef Noodle Soup)

This popular soup from Hue, Vietnam is full of flavor!

Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

Bun Bo Hue is a noodle soup from Vietnam, specifically Hue. Hue is a city in central Vietnam. The dish Bun Bo Hue is made with beef and pork, and flavored with lemongrass and chilies. It is traditionally prepared to be spicy. There are special thick round rice vermicelli noodles that are made specifically for this dish.

My grandmother was from Hue and she enjoyed making soup like this when I was little. I would watch the pieces of beef and pork swim around in the crimson broth. I thought the red color of the soup came from tomatoes. It was not until I was older and started making the soup myself that I found out the color of the soup came from annatto seeds. My first attempt at making Bun Bo Hue was in my tiny kitchen at university. All the ingredients were piled on top of each other on the counter and the place was a mess. The results of the soup were pretty successful though. Luckily, all my roommates were out of the house and I got the kitchen cleaned up before they got back. Please enjoy this recipe!

Bun Bo Hue (Hue Beef Noodle Soup) Recipe

Yields 2-3 servings

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 90 minutes

Beer Pairing Suggestion: Amber Ale


1 1/2 pounds pork bones

1 pound pork leg, boneless

1 pound beef shanks

2 lemongrass stalks

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon shrimp paste

1 teaspoon annatto seeds

1 teaspoon shallot, minced

1 teaspoon dried chili flakes

8 ounces dried Bun Bo Hue noodles (thick rice vermicelli)

3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1/4 of a yellow onion, sliced very thinly

To Serve: Lime wedges, slices of Thai chilies or Jalapenos, mung bean sprouts, and thinly shredded cabbage.


Separate the green and white parts of the lemon grass stalks. Cut the green parts into 3 inch pieces and set aside.

Bruise one white lemongrass stalk with your knife. Finely mince the other white lemongrass stalk. Set aside.

Place pork bones, pork leg, and beef shanks, into a large stock pot. Add enough water to cover the bones and meat. Bring water to a boil, then drain the solution.

Return the bones and meat back into the stock pot and add 2 quarts of fresh water. Bring to a boil.

Add the green lemongrass parts and the bruised white lemongrass part. Reduce to a simmer.

As it cooks, skim off any fat or foam from the surface. Simmer for about an hour until the meat is tender.

Remove meat from the pot and after 10 minutes slice into thin strips, set aside. Allow the pork bones to continue simmering.

Add the fish sauce, sugar, and shrimp paste to the broth and continue to simmer.

In a separate pot, boil the Bun Bo Hue noodles for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain.

In a small saucepan heat up 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to medium heat. Add the annatto seeds, minced lemongrass, shallot, and chili flakes. Stir for about 20 seconds. Immediately add aromatics to the broth.

With a slotted spoon, remove pork bones and large lemongrass stalk pieces. Heat broth to near boiling.

To serve divide the cooked noodles and meats evenly among bowls. Top with cilantro, green onion, and yellow onion. Ladle hot broth onto the noodles.

Serve with lime wedges, slices of Thai chilies or Jalapenos, mung bean sprouts, and thinly shredded cabbage.

This dish goes great with spring rolls and summer rolls.

Make ahead instructions: Reheat the bowls of noodles and meat in the microwave until hot. Ladle boiling hot broth into the bowls and serve.

If you do not want to have this soup be spicy omit the chili flakes.

This dish works great with green or red cabbage just use what is fresh and local to you!


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4 thoughts on “Bun Bo Hue (Hue Beef Noodle Soup)

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