Taste of Vietnam: Beef and Green Bean Soup with Glass Noodles and Shallots

Beef and Green Bean Soup

While this dish doesn’t seem to be very well known, it should be. It is comforting and reminds me of my childhood. My mom would often make this for me and my sister when she was short on time and had hungry mouths to feed. It was also one of the few dishes I would eat with veggies in it when I was a child. Although I eat almost anything now, green beans are still one of my favorite greens to eat. I have never posted this dish before because Thogg still absolutely loathes them. He will eat this soup but carefully picks out every piece of green from out of his bowl and hands them over to me. Oh well, I guess you can win all the time.

A note about slicing the green beans. They work best if you can get them sliced thin and if you aren’t confident in your knife skills there are handy bean frenching tools you can buy. You can garnish this dish with a little chopped cilantro to give it an extra kick of southeast Asian flavor.

Ingredients:

  • Two hand-fulls of washed and trimmed green beans – the larger ones are easier to slice
  • 4 ounces of lean minced beef (ground beef works in a pinch)
  • 1 tiny bundle of glass noodles aka bean thread noodles (it will fit in the palm of your hand)
  • 2 small asian shallots (about 1/2 an American shallot) – minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic – minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 to 3 tsp sugar
  • toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbs Fish Sauce – divided (Red Boat is a good brand)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 3 or 4 cups of water

Directions:

  • Marinade the beef with 1/2 tsp salt, several grounds of black pepper, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 Tbs fish sauce. Let it marinade for at least 10 minutes.
  • Soak the glass noodles in a bowl of warm (just under scalding) water. Use a bean frencher or knife to slice the green beans into thin pieces. If using a knife, cutting on the diagonal can make it easier.
  • Into a medium soup pot over medium-high heat saute 1 tsp olive oil and the shallots until they just start to take on a little color. Add the marinated beef and garlic and saute until the beef is half done but still a bit pinkish in the center (breaking it up into small pieces if you used ground beef).
  • Add the chicken broth and water and the remaining 1 Tbs fish sauce and turn the heat up to high. In the mean time, use a pair of scissors or a knife to cut the softened glass noodles into 1/2 to 1 inch long pieces.
  • When the soup begins to boil add the sliced green beans and cook and the glass noodles. Let cook for another minute or two and when the green beans just become tender but before they become mushy take it off the heat. Add the rest of the sugar and another 1 to 2 tsp of sesame oil, stir and give it a taste. Season with salt and pepper per your taste. If you will be serving the soup over rice, you will want it to taste a little salty.
  • Serve over rice with soy sauce at the table in case you need a little more salt.
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