Seasoned with mint and coriander, this soup makes a 'heavy' starter or a light meal. The ingredients are not fried before being simmered – making this a great low-fat soup – so select prime-quality lean steak which tastes excellent when poached.
Rinse the shiitake mushrooms and put them in a small bowl. Place the rice noodles in a large bowl. Cover the mushrooms with boiling water and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Cover the rice noodles with boiling water and soak for 4 minutes, or according to the packet instructions. Drain the noodles and set aside until they are needed.
Drain the mushrooms and pour the soaking liquid into a large saucepan. Trim off and discard any tough stalks from the mushrooms, then slice them and add to the pan with the diced steak, stock, fish sauce and ginger. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10–15 minutes or until the steak is cooked and tender. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the soup during cooking.
Divide the noodles, bean sprouts and sliced onion between 2 large, deep soup bowls. Use a draining spoon to remove the steak and mushrooms from the broth and divide them between the bowls. Ladle the broth into the bowls, then scatter the spring onions, chillies, mint, coriander and basil over the top.
Serve immediately, with the lime wedges – the juice can be squeezed into the broth to taste. Soy sauce can also be added, if liked.
Some more ideas
For a vegetarian version of this soup, use paneer and vegetable stock instead of beef and beef stock, and soy sauce. Cook the paneer gently.* The bean sprouts can be replaced by shavings of carrot. Vary the quantities of green onion, chilli and fresh herbs to taste. * Any thin Oriental noodles can be used in place of rice noodles, including Chinese egg noodles. Cook or soak the chosen noodles according to the packet instructions. * For a warm, spicy flavour, add a good pinch of ground cinnamon with the ginger.
In common with other red meats, beef is a good source of iron and zinc, and the iron in meat is far more easily absorbed by the body than iron from vegetable sources. * Beef is now far leaner than it used to be, and well-trimmed lean cuts can contain as little as 4% fat.