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Thai Beef Noodle Soup Recipe

Asian Soups

This Thai beef noodle soup recipe is one of my absolute favorite Southeast Asian soup recipes. It may not be as popular as more famous Thai soups, like Tom Yum Goong and Tom Kha Gai, but within Thailand itself, it’s an iconic dish with zillions of styles and variations.

thai beef noodle soup
Photo by Craig Fear from The Thai Soup Secret

And that’s the great thing about it. There’s really no standard Thai beef noodle soup recipe. So you can easily tweak the condiments and seasonings to create slightly different versions each time you make it. That said, there are some key components to the soup that are fairly universal. First, let’s explore how they do it in Thailand!

Thai Beef Noodle Soup in Thailand (Kuay Teow Neua)

There’s nothing quite like getting a bowl of Thai beef noodle soup in Thailand as part of the iconic Thai street food culture. Known as Kuay Teow Neua in the Thai language, you’ll find incarnations of this recipe all throughout the street of Thailand where vendors peddle their tasty versions from pushcarts which are a little bit like the hot dog carts you’ll find in American cities.

Instead of a boiling pot of hot dogs in the middle of the cart, there’s a boiling pot of bone broth. Seriously, how cool is that? Bone broth on wheels! That’s what I call the noodle soup carts of Thailand. 

Maybe someday it will catch on here in America (but probably not). Well, in Thailand they’re found everywhere, roaming through the streets of cities and towns or parked at roadside stalls and markets.

You’ll often hear them coming too as the vendors will tap two pieces of a bamboo block together creating a resonant sound that’s often referred to as “pok pok.” This lets people know that their noodle soup is nearby. Just the thought of that sound makes me start salivating!

Here’s a really cool YouTube video that shows exactly what I’m talking about. 

And no, not every noodle soup vendor does what she did at the 1:08 mark. But it’s certainly not uncommon either.

Thai noodle soups have an almost infinite variety of different styles and flavors that blend influences from throughout Asia. While some have evolved into uniquely Thai versions, some are not so different from what you might find in other Southeast Asian countries.

Is Thai Beef Noodle Soup the Same as Vietnamese Pho?

Perhaps the most famous beef noodle soup is Vietnamese Pho. Similar to Thai beef noodle soup, there are many styles and variations of Pho. For example, there’s the northern version known as Hanoi Pho, and the southern version known as Saigon Pho.

Pho is similar to Thai beef noodle soup but there are differences. Pho is typically a clearer, lighter, and more aromatic broth with a little more emphasis on fresh herbs like cilantro or culantro, mint, and Thai basil. Pho almost always includes raw, thinly sliced pieces of beef that are cooked in the hot broth.

Thai beef noodle soup is a cloudier and richer broth, typically enhanced with dark soy sauce (more on that below) and served with Thai condiments like fresh chiles, chiles in vinegar, fish sauce, and even sugar. The cuts of beef can also be raw and thinly sliced but can include other cuts as well.

More Thai and Southeast Asian Soup Recipes to Try

thai beef noodle soup pin

Ingredients Needed

For the beef broth:

  • 2 quarts store-bought beef broth OR 2 pounds beef bones (and 2 to 3 quarts water)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 2-inch piece of galangal
  • 8 to 10 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion or 2 shallots
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons black soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar – granulated or block form

For the soup:

  • 1 pound raw, tender cut of beef – tenderloin, strip steak, etc.
  • 1 bunch of leafy greens of your choice – bok choy, Chinese celery, spinach, Napa cabbage, etc.
  • 1 package of rice noodles

Seasonings, to taste:

  • Fish sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Fresh chiles
  • Chiles in vinegar
  • Cilantro
  • Thai basil
  • Bean sprouts

Some Thai Beef Noodle Soup Recipe Notes

1. Two ways to make the beef broth

Homemade broth is always the best option, especially when it comes to beef. But I’ll give you two options — the quicker infusion method and the homemade, longer version which provides a fuller, more rounded flavor.

Asian bone broth on the streets of Bangkok
Authentic bone broth from a noodle soup cart in Bangkok

For the longer version, you’ll need about 2 pounds of beef bones. A variety of bones is always best for more depth of flavor. Rinse the bones in water, add them to a stockpot, cover with water (about 2 to 3 quarts), and add all of the ingredients listed in the recipe card below under the heading, “For the beef broth.” Bring everything to a simmer and skim the scum that forms on the surface. Simmer everything for about 3 hours. Strain everything out.

For the quick version, buy 2 quarts of a good quality store-bought beef broth. Bring it to a simmer on the stovetop, add all the same ingredients, and simmer for about 40 to 60 minutes to infuse the broth. Strain everything out.

2. What is black soy sauce?

Black soy sauce is a very common ingredient in Thai beef noodle soup recipes. It’s slightly richer and sweeter than regular soy sauce. It may be hard to find outside of Asian markets. I use Healthy Boy brand dark soy sauce. I should also mention that they make my favorite Thai fish sauce as well.

3. Where do I find lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves?

Your best will be in an Asian supermarket. Otherwise, you can order them fresh from online sellers, including Amazon.

4. What is the best cut of beef?

It doesn’t really matter. Any cut will work well. Stewed beef cuts like chuck roast or beef shank are fine and you could even include those when making your beef broth. Personally, I like thinner, more tender cuts of beef like tenderloin or strip steak. Simply slice these cuts raw, across the grain, very thinly, and add them to the hot broth where they will cook quickly.

In Thailand, other cuts are common too such as tendon, beef meatballs, or offal.

5. The final flavor is up to you

The broth is only the beginning. The final flavor is up to each person. Some people like things more spicy, salty, sweet, or sour than others. Always taste and adjust to your liking. Personally, I almost always add a little more fish sauce, a squeeze of lime, and some form of spice to my bowl be it fresh chiles, chiles in vinegar, or some form of chile powder or flakes.

The Thai Soup Secret

If you like this Thai beef noodle soup recipe, check out my cookbook, The Thai Soup Secret. You’ll find 40 recipes for different types of soups, congees, broths, and many more.

Thai Soup Secret cover

Transform Your Health with Thailand’s #1 Superfood!

Includes 40 restorative recipes for broths, congees, and soups. All gluten and dairy-free!

Other than Tom Yum Goong and Tom Kha Gai, Thailand’s two most famous soups, Thai soups are not that well known outside Thailand. There are literally hundreds of Thai soups that never make it to the menus of western Thai restaurants.  In my travels in Thailand, I collected many of these recipes and include them in the book.

In particular, I focus on broth-based Thai soups that are both healing to the body and super simple to make at home. The Thai beef noodle soup recipe is actually one of the more in-depth recipes!

How to Make Thai Beef Noodle Soup

Thai Noodle Soup

Thai Beef Noodle Soup Recipe

A staple of Thai street food culture, this Thai beef noodle soup is complex, rich, slightly sweet and flavored with cinnamon and star anise.  
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
CourseMain Course, Soup
CuisineThai
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 20 minutes
Servings6 people
Calories382kcal
AuthorCraig Fear
Cost$30

Ingredients

For the beef broth:

For the rest of the soup:

  • 1 pound tender cut of beef tenderloin, strip steak, etc., sliced against the grain into very thin strips
  • 3-4 cups leafy greens your choice of spinach, bok choy greens, etc.
  • 1 package rice noodles

Seasonings, to taste

Instructions

  • Simmer the beef broth with the herbs, spices, and seasonings for about 1 hour on a very gentle simmer to let the flavors amalgamate. Strain everything out. You can also make your beef broth from scratch with 2 pounds of beef bones. Add 2 quarts of water, the same ingredients, and simmer for about 3 hours and strain.
  • Prepare rice noodles according to package directions.
  • In the last few minutes add the greens to the broth to gently wilt.
  • In individual bowls add a handful or two of cooked rice noodles and raw beef strips and ladle with a few cups of hot broth and let sit for a minute or two to cook the meat.  Add seasonings, as much or as little of each as you prefer, to taste.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups (1 bowl) | Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 1716mg | Potassium: 506mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 233IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 3mg
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Thai Beef Noodle Soup Recipe
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About the Author

Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.

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