If I had to name my all-time favorite soup, it would have to be Vietnamese Phô soup. The one pictured above is complete with the lean beef, meatballs, sausage, tripe, and tendon, but there are dozens of variations including purely vegetarian, with chicken, or with seafood.

I’ve never been to Vietnam, so have no reference point for authenticity, but I did eat Phô weekly for 25 years at Montreal’s first (and in my opinion, best) Phô place; a small, basement hole-in-the-wall run by an elderly Vietnamese lady (who spoke no English or French) and her granddaughter. I have tried Phô in at least a dozen other places and it never came close. Sadly, my place closed last year when the building owner expropriated it to convert the building to a condo project.

The key to a great Phô, I am told, is the broth. Beef bones are slowly simmered for anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. At the end, the broth is defatted and the ingredients added. I’ve made Phô at home several times and it has always been very good. Today I am boiling a good whack of beef-bones in preparation for making the soup tomorrow. Here’s an excellent recipe and process demo, although my favorite (and simpler) recipe can be found, here. I particularly like the use of daikon in the latter because the taste reminds me of the soup I used to have at my favorite place, Phô Bac.

Today we’ll be in Chinatown for dinner, so a great chance to pick up ingredients I’m missing.