Love pho? If you do, then you should give these 13 other Vietnamese soups a try!
When there’s mention of soups from Vietnam, the first thing that often comes to mind is pho, and you can’t be faulted for that.
Pho is, after all, the most popular dish to come out of the country.
And with good reason too.
The flavor that you get from the broth of this world-famous soup comes from 13 hours of slow stewing.
This helps develop the depth of flavor that people love from this ubiquitous Vietnamese dish.
As amazing as pho is, however, it’s not the only option you have for flavorful soup in the country.
There are a lot of other Vietnamese soups that are worth trying.
Each region in this Asian nation has its own bowl of goodness that shows you some part of its cultural heritage and history.
For example, in some of the northern regions of the country, the soups you can expect are clear and rather light.
This can be owed to the French who brought with them consommé and bouillon.
In the central regions, soups tend to be heavier and come with lots of spice.
These are brought about by the availability of ingredients in the area as well as the influences of settlers in these places over the years.
Other influences that can be noted in these soups all over the country include Chinese, Malay, and even American.
Aside from the flavors in the broth, the noodles and other additions to these dishes also factor into your enjoyment of such soups.
Noodles come in a variety of thicknesses.
These are made out of rice, tapioca, whole wheat, and mung bean.
The toppings can also range from pork to beef to chicken to tofu and seafood.
Examples of soups that have pork toppings include Hu Tieu Nam Vang and Bun Moc.
Soups that have beef in them, both in the broth and on top, include Bo Kho and Bun Bo Hue.
There are also soups with all types of meat, like Bun Rieu Cua and, of course, Pho.
So, are you ready to get into these Vietnamese soups?
Let’s get started!
1. Bo Kho
The first soup on this list is one that’s traditionally eaten at breakfast.
This is a beef stew that has its own particular mix of spices called Bo Kho spices.
This is a combination of onion, fennel, paprika, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise.
You can also find tomato paste and annatto added to this soup for flavor and color.
This Vietnamese beef stew can be prepared in advance and frozen for future use.
It’s usually paired with vermicelli noodles, but you can have this with any kind of noodle you like.
Another popular soup that Vietnamese enjoy is this seafood noodle soup.
The broth is made from a combination of seafood shells (shrimp, lobster, crab) and meat bones (pork ribs, chicken bones, beef bones).
This combination gives the soup an intense flavor and it’s thickened either by cornstarch or by boiling the noodles with the broth.
The toppings that you can use with this soup can be customized to your taste, but normally, you have crab meat, shrimp, and fish cake.
If you can’t find tapioca-based noodles for this soup, udon can work as a substitute.
3. Bun Bo Hue
If you love spicy soup like tom yum, then this one is worth a try!
This is another of the Vietnamese soups with a vibrant red color.
This is achieved with the help of annatto seeds and the other spices in the mix.
Just like Bo Kho, this soup also has its own mix of spices, which you can buy pre-mixed.
If this spice mix isn’t available near you, simply make your own by combining onion powder, chili powder, ginger powder, and paprika.
4. Bun Rieu Cua
Salty, sweet, herby, and oh so yummy!
That’s what you get with this seafood and pork with vermicelli soup.
The combination of crab paste, shrimp paste, and ground pork gives it a distinct umami flavor.
Tomatoes add some sour notes to the broth, and freshness shines through via the herbs that you add on top.
5. Pho Ga
This list won’t be complete if I didn’t include the most popular soup from Vietnam.
Pho comes in a few different types, with the most popular being Pho Bo and Pho Ga.
Pho Ga is not as trendy as its beef counterpart (Pho Bo), but it does hold its own with its flavorsome broth and chewy rice noodles.
The aromatics, spices, and long cooking time give you the kind of yummy broth you won’t forget anytime soon.
6. Mien Ga
Another chicken noodle soup that comes from Vietnam is Mien Ga.
This soup is often confused with its more popular cousin, the Pho Ga.
Both are made with chicken, both have noodles in them, and both are soups.
The biggest difference between these two is Mien Ga uses thin mung bean noodles while Pho Ga has flat, fettuccine-like rice noodles.
Also, Mien Ga’s broth is lighter than Pho Ga’s because it isn’t simmered for as long as the latter.
7. Bun Moc
Looking for something more earthy in taste?
This noodle soup gives you the earthiness you want with its mixture of pork meatballs, pork ribs, and mushrooms.
If you can’t find the pork paste needed for the pork meatballs in this dish, you can replace it with your own version of bun cha (Vietnamese pork meatballs).
Just incorporate the wood-ear fungus into your meatballs to give them the flavor profile that the soup needs.
8. Bun Mam
Originally from Cambodia, this soup metamorphosed into its Vietnamese version over time.
This soup features two kinds of fermented fish paste, which you can probably find in your local Asian grocer.
With a strong, rather fishy smell (and taste), this soup isn’t for the faint of heart!
9. Canh Bau Tom
Not all soups out of Vietnam are served with noodles in them, as this dish shows you.
Translated as Opo Squash with Shrimp soup, this recipe uses white gourd and dried shrimp cooked in a clear broth.
The vegetable in this dish takes the place of noodles, giving you the tummy-filling substance that noodle soups give you.
If you cannot find a white gourd in the vegetable aisle, you can replace it with winter melon or chayote.
10. Hu Tieu Nam Vang
If the northern region of Vietnam has Pho, the southern areas have Hu Tieu.
You should try this soup when you’re craving a surf-and-turf kind of noodle meal.
The broth is made with a combination of pork bones, dried shrimp, and dried squid.
The toppings are also surf-and-turf, with fresh shrimp, cooked pork, and ground pork sharing space with toasted garlic and crispy shallots.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can add offal, like pork liver and intestines, to your toppings.
11. Bun Thang
Another chicken noodle soup coming out of Vietnam is this bowl of goodness.
Topped with shredded chicken, Vietnamese sausage, and hardboiled egg, this recipe is one of the many street food soups you can make at home.
The broth is made with chicken, dried shrimp, and some fish sauce, giving it the umami people expect from such a soup.
Bun Thang, however, doesn’t have an underlying sweetness that most Vietnamese soups come with.
12. Ban Canh Gio Heo
What do you get when you have pork meatballs, udon noodles, and pork hock broth in a bowl?
You get this satisfying noodle soup called Ban Canh Gio Heo!
If you don’t want your broth to be made with pork hock, you can always substitute it with chicken or seafood stock.
As with most soups from this country, tweaking and substituting ingredients to suit what you want and what’s available is acceptable.
13. Canh Chua Ca
Here’s another South-Vietnamese soup dish that’s sure to please your palate!
If you like Chinese hot and sour soup, you will likely like this bowl too.
This soup is usually served without noodles and enjoyed with rice, but you can always tweak it to your liking.
You can also adjust the sourness of the soup, depending on how sour you want it to be, and cook it with shrimp instead of fish.
For a bit of a bite, some sliced chilies or pepper flakes can be added on top of each bowl.
The bottom line
This list shows you that there’s more than just Pho when it comes to soups that come from Vietnam.
Change your perception of what this country can offer when it comes to these bowls full of flavor.
The noodles in these soups can also be swapped out for others, depending on what’s available in your area or what you feel like eating.
Don’t want thin vermicelli noodles?
You can always replace it with thicker linguine-style rice noodles.
Can’t find Vietnamese udon noodles?
Japanese ones (or making your own from scratch) will also work well with these soups.
So, if you’re looking for something different from your usual noodle soups, you should try one (or more) of these amazing soup recipes.
Take your pick from these 13 Vietnamese soups and enjoy!
For more Vietnamese cuisine inspirations, unlock these 15 BEST Vietnamese Appetizers!
- Bo Kho
- Banh Canh Cua Tom
- Bun Bo Hue
- Bun Rieu Cua
- Pho Ga
- Mien Ga
- Bun Moc
- Bun Mam
- Canh Bau Tom
- Hu Tieu Nam Vang
- Bun Thang
- Ban Canh Gio Heo
- Canh Chua Ca
- Take a look at our Vietnamese Soups list!
- Bring the ingredients to create a new favorite dish.
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