Thai Beef Noodle Soup - Street Food Recipe

Thai Beef Noodle Soup
Thai Beef Noodle Soup | Source

If you ever visit Thailand, this is one of the must-try street foods. In Thai, we call it "kuay teow rhua", meaning "boat noodles." The reason for that is because it used to be sold on little boats in Thailand's numerous canals. Nowadays, you don't need to look for floating vendors in order to enjoy this delectable noodle soup anymore; it is widely available on land, even more so than in the canals, its original birthplace. The recipe I'm sharing with you today is a quick and easy version of this dish. Traditionally, boat noodle sellers would prepare their broth from scratch by simmering cow bones with spices for hours. Having no such patience, I resort to utilizing ready-made beef broth, which helps save hours of my time. And the taste? Pretty close to the authentic version! If you're looking for a hearty Thai soup to enjoy this winter, this is certainly a delicious option to keep in mind.

Please Rate This Thai Street Food Recipe

3.8 stars from 12 ratings of Thai Beef Noodle Soup

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 35 min
Yields: 2 servings

Asian Meatballs

Asian Beef Meatballs
Asian Beef Meatballs | Source

You can find meatballs like these in the frozen section of most Asian supermarkets and grocery stores. Usually, they are fully cooked, slightly bouncy in texture, and mildly seasoned.

Thai Beef Noodle Soup - Ingredients

  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 2 - 3 inches long)
  • 2 - 3 dried star anise flowers
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground coliander
  • 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • salt to taste
  • about 4 oz of dried rice noodles
  • 1 cup thin beef slices
  • 6 - 10 Asian-style beef meatballs
  • a handful of sweet basil leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup pig or cow blood (optional)
Dried Rice Noodles
Dried Rice Noodles | Source

Types of Rice Noodles

Thai Rice noodles are usually categorized by their levels of thickness. The largest version is called "sen yai"; these flat noodles are basically like the Chinese chow fun. The small thin ones are known as "sen lek"; they are similar to those used in Vietnamese pho. Finally, "sen mee" is the tiniest version. If you have never seen them, think of angel-hair pasta. In this recipe, I use sen lek, but you can opt for another kind of noodles if you like. Bean threads or "woon sen", however, usually don't work so well in this noodle soup.

Optional Ingredient

Fresh Pig Blood
Fresh Pig Blood | Source

I know this special ingredient might make some of you feel a little uneasy or even queasy. Well, Thai beef noodle soup isn't always made with blood. However, in most restaurants and vendors, it is often available upon request. Do I like it? Heck yeah! It adds such a deep flavor to the broth, and once it's cooked, it doesn't taste or smell like blood at all. (DO NOT ingest it raw!) So if you're adventurous with food, be sure to put this blood soup on your "to-devour" list. And if you ever want to have a Thai Halloween party, this could be a marvellous item for your "bloodcurdling" menu. Oh and by the way, I'm not a vampire.

How to Make Kuay Teow Rhua or Boat Noodles

  1. Add beef broth and about 2 cups of water to a small soup pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add celery, cinnamon sticks, star anise, garlic, ground coliander, sweet soy sauce, soy sauce, sugar and salt.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and let cook for about 20 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks, star anise flowers and celery. Allow the broth to simmer.
  4. Cook rice noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain well and place the cooked rice noodles into two serving bowls. Set aside.
  5. Bring the broth to a boil again, add cow or pig blood (optional). Then add beef slices and meatballs. (If you slice your beef thin, it should take just about 1 - 2 minutes to cook.) Once the beef slices are cooked, transfer them to the serving bowls along with the meatballs and broth.
  6. Top with fresh bean sprouts and sweet basil leaves. (If you don't like raw bean sprouts, go ahead and cook them in the broth for 1 - 2 minutes.)
  7. You may also add Thai fish sauce, vinegar or ground chili pepper if you'd like. Boat noodle restaurants in Thailand usually have these seasonings handy at each table.
  8. Enjoy!

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Comments 18 comments

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

This really looks different and We love soup. Lots of unique ingredients. I am thinking about bookmarking for the next soup occasion. Great recipe ,great photos and great job. Voted UP.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

I do love your Thai recipes and I think I can find the ingredients for this delicious recipe (in Rome) - especially those meat balls. It'd be fantastic to be able to make it here in the middle of Tuscany! It's just my kind of food and I miss it. Thanks for your wonderful recipe and for making it seem very simple to make. I love your photographs.


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 4 years ago

A great recipe and a lot of other useful information.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I love your Thai recipes and am intrigued with those meatballs now. This looks simple and delicious.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@carol7777 - Thanks, Carol. I hope you give it a try sometime. You can enjoy this soup without the noodles as well. We call the noodle-free version "kao lao."

@goodlady - Yes, kuay teow rhua in Tuscany sounds truly awesome! You can savor the soup as you're enjoying the gorgeous scenery of the mountains. Oh, I envy you!!!

@rjsadowski - Thank you!

@randomcreative - Those meatballs look yummy, don't they? Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Rose. Always glad to hear from you.


Kimberly Vaughn profile image

Kimberly Vaughn 4 years ago from Midwest

This looks delicious! I am going to have to try it!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@Kimberly Vaughn - Thanks. Hope you try it soon :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Om,

Gave this another 5 stars just because it sounds delicious with all of those flavorings. I would say that people eat well on the streets of Thailand! Up votes and will share.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@Peggy W - Hehe I agree! I grew up eating lots of Thai street food, and yes, those were my memorable days.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Well, it looks so healthy. Street food seems like an odd term for it. Thanks for sharing!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@rebeccamealey - Thanks! Yeah, I think it's a pretty healthy dish :)


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 years ago from Western NC

Wonderful hub and your pictures are astounding. I haven't cooked much with rice noodles, but I am thinking that I need to try these!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@cclitgirl - Thanks! Hope you give this noodle doup recipe a try soon. :)


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I'm really excited to find this recipe! I love Thai soup and look forward to trying this one. Although I'm adventurous with food, I'll take mine without the blood. : ) There's quite an Asian culture here in Lima, so I can get all these ingredients. We don't have ready made beef broth, though, so I'll have to make my own but I don't mind too much. Thanks!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@vespawoolf - Making your own broth is probably better, actually! Thanks a lot for visiting this hub, vespawoolf. Quite interesting to learn that Asian ingredients are not too hard to find in Lima :)


Anna Evanswood profile image

Anna Evanswood 3 years ago from Malaysia

Authentic and sounds delicious. I love Thai food and this looks like the sort of adventure I would like to have :)


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@Anna Evanswood - Thanks, Anna. It's certainly an adventure worth taking :)


aesta1 profile image

aesta1 21 months ago from Ontario, Canada

I am in Bangkok right now and will look for this in the street. You made this sound easy to prepare.

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