Vietnamese-Style Meatball Soup

Chef Kristian Crossen, Western University

Chef Crossen makes his own aromatic beef broth with roasted bones and beef chuck. Here’s a streamlined method using a purchased seasoned broth to save time. Chef suggests you can also use Medium or Regular Ground Beef for juicy, tender and flavourful meatballs. Garnish the soup with vegetables you may have on hand such as chopped bok choy, julienned carrots or slivered snap peas.

This recipe was adapted from Chef Crossen’s original and modified to cook at home.

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Vietnamese-Style Meatball Soup

  • Author: ThinkBeef
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: Make 4 servings 1x




2 tbsp (30 mL) canola or sunflower oil, divided (approx)

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 green onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) minced gingerroot

1 red finger chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 egg

⅓ cup (75 mL) panko bread crumbs

2 tbsp (30 mL) EACH chopped fresh cilantro and mint

1½ tsp (7 mL) grated lime zest

1 tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce

1½ tsp (7 mL) honey

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

¼ tsp (1 mL) fresh ground pepper

1 lb (500 g) Lean Ground Beef


2 cartons (EACH 900 mL) prepared pho seasoned broth

6 oz (175 g) thin rice noodles

Bean sprouts

Red finger chili peppers, sliced

Green onions, finely chopped

Fresh mint and cilantro leaves

Hoisin sauce or sriracha (optional)

Lime wedges


  1. Meatballs: Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, green onions, garlic, gingerroot and chili pepper; cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely. (Reserve skillet.)
  2. Add egg to the cooled vegetables and beat with a fork until blended; stir in bread crumbs, cilantro, mint, lime zest, fish sauce, honey, each salt and pepper. Gently mix in beef with a fork (careful not to over-mix).
  3. Scoop 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the meat mixture and roll into about forty-five 1-inch (2.5 cm) meatballs. Place onto a baking sheet or plate.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Cook meatballs, in batches and turning as needed, for about 5 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to a clean plate. Add more oil to skillet between batches, as necessary.
  5. Soup: Heat broth in a pot over medium-high heat until simmering. Add meatballs; reduce heat and simmer gently, for about 4 minutes or until a digital instant-read thermometer inserted sideways into several meatballs reads 160°F (71°C). Stir in bean sprouts if using; simmer for 1 minute.
  6. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions until just tender; drain and divide among 4 heated serving bowls.
  7. Ladle broth and meatballs over noodles and top with chili peppers, green onions, mint and cilantro. Season with hoisin, as desired, and serve with lime wedges.


Tip: Pho seasoned broth is available in cartons at well-stocked supermarkets. If it’s not available, substitute 2 cartons (EACH 900 mL) beef broth and simmer with a 2-inch (5 cm) piece of gingerroot, thinly sliced, and ¼ tsp (1 mL) each ground cinnamon, cloves and star anise in a saucepan for 5 to 10 minutes to blend the flavours. Season with fish sauce and brown sugar to taste, then add noodles.


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