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Spicy Beef Noodle Soup With Mushrooms

Spicy Noodle Soup topped with fresh herbs.
Photograph by Shawn Michael Jones, Food Styling by Thu Buser, Prop Styling by Stephanie De Luca

This spicy beef noodle soup recipe has a special skill you might not expect: It has the power to cool you down. Similar to iconic dishes like Vietnamese bún bò huế and bún riêu, which are frequently eaten on the hottest days of the year, the soup combines chile heat (in the form of a savory jam flavored with lemongrass and garlic) and temperature heat. The two types of heat work in tandem to increase sweat, which in turn brings down your body temperature.

For long-simmered flavor without the long cook time, start with store-bought broth (or homemade broth if you’re feeling extra ambitious) and reinforce it with aromatics including green onions, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce. Ask your butcher for shaved beef (any cut works, but we recommend brisket, sirloin, beef shank, or beef chuck). You’ll ladle the hot broth over the raw meat, which will just cook it through. Again, if you're the DIY type, you can chill a larger cut of beef in the freezer for 30 to 60 minutes, then use your sharpest knife to cut the meat into thin slices.

Tiny tender mushrooms add a bit more umami, but you can take some liberties: Poach sliced fennel or halves of baby bok choy in the broth until tender. Swap out the beef for pork belly or butterflied shrimp. Trade the rice noodles and meat for store-bought frozen dumplings. Whichever way you go, complete the picture with crunchy bean sprouts, cooling fresh cilantro, and invigorating lime juice, and bring the chile jam to the table so diners can garnish to their tolerance level.

Recipe information

  • Total Time

    45 minutes

  • Yield

    4–6 servings


Chile Condiment

2 cups dried bird chiles, stems removed
1 cup vegetable oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 head of garlic, cloves separated, finely chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, bottom third only, tough outer layers removed, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. MSG

Soup and Assembly

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
2 scallions, trimmed
4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
1 2" piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. (or more) fish sauce
4 oz. beech or enoki mushrooms
1 lb. dried or fresh rice noodles
6 oz. shaved beef, cut into 3x2" pieces, patted dry, chilled
Bean sprouts, cilantro leaves with tender stems, and lime wedges (for serving)


  1. Chile Condiment

    Step 1

    Crush 2 cups dried bird chiles, stems removed, with a mortar and pestle (or chop with a chef’s knife; no need to get them fine) and transfer to a small bowl. Pour in ½ cup water (at room-temperature) to cover; let sit 15 minutes to soften.

    Step 2

    Heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium. Cook 1 small shallot, finely chopped, 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, finely chopped, and 2 lemongrass stalks, bottom third only, tough outer layers removed, finely chopped, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Drain chiles and stir into shallot mixture. Add 2 Tbsp. fish sauce, 2 tsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. MSG and mix well. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, until jammy, 13–17 minutes. Let cool.

  2. Soup and Assembly

    Step 3

    Bring 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth to a simmer in a medium heavy pot over medium heat. Add 2 scallions, trimmed, 4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed, one 2" piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, and 1 Tbsp. fish sauce and cook until broth is infused and flavorful, 13–17 minutes. Remove scallions, garlic, and ginger with a spider or slotted spoon; discard. Add 4 oz. beech or enoki mushrooms to broth and simmer until softened, about 4 minutes.

    Step 4

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions. (Fresh will take only about 30 seconds, so be careful not to overcook.) Divide noodles among bowls. Arrange 2–3 slices of 6 oz. shaved beef, cut into 3x2" pieces, patted dry, chilled, in each; top with bean sprouts. Ladle broth over. Top with some chile condiment and cilantro leaves with tender stems; season with more fish sauce if desired. Serve with lime wedges.

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