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Beef noodle soup is a very broad culinary term that refers to any soup with beef and noodles as the main components. Almost every cuisine in the world has some kind of traditional beef noodle soup, and almost every home cook has his or her own version. Beef noodle soups are also extremely common in supermarkets all over the world as canned, dehydrated, frozen, and instant soup products. A typical beef noodle soup is a broth based soup, with beef broth as the liquid component, and some type of noodle, most often a hearty, broad noodle, such as egg noodles or kluski noodles, although other types of noodles are used in many parts of the world.
Most typical beef noodle soups begin with a base of beef broth or stock. This can come from a number of sources — from homemade beef stock to canned or instant broth from bullion cubes, paste, or granules. The beef flavor of the stock may be delicate to very rich, depending on the recipe. The stock may also be flavored with vegetable flavors such as onions, celery, carrots or savory herbs, like thyme, savory, or rosemary. In some parts of the world, such as the Far East, many exotic herbs and spices are possible.
Beef is not always used in beef noodle soup, such as the instant ramen noodle soups, although it is found in most recipes. It is generally found in most versions of this soup in the form of cubes of lean beef, such as chuck roast or stew meat, usually simmered in broth for long periods until well done, but tender. In many instant or dehydrated prepackaged soup products, the ingredients may list beef, but it is generally powdered or in very small pieces.
Noodles for beef noodle soup vary widely from cuisine to cuisine. In the Far East the noodles may be rice noodles, maifun, or more traditional pasta. In many western cuisines, the noodles are often short, broad egg noodles, or a special kind of noodle called kluski noodles, which are actually sort of an intermediary between more traditional noodles and dumplings, which are favored for soup because they tend to hold their shape and texture better than many other traditional pasta noodles. Some beef noodle soup recipes may call for other pastas, such as various macaroni or tiny pasta shapes, developed specifically for soups, called pastina.
Most recipes in almost all cuisines call for other ingredients as well. Vegetables, such as onion, celery, and carrots are most common, but in some recipes, it is possible to find fruits, nuts, or other meats as well. Herbs and spices are also common additions to beef noodle soup recipes, and may vary widely depending on the part of the world from which the recipe originates. Mushrooms are another common addition to many beef noodle soups as well.
In the far East, particularly in China and Taiwan, beef noodle soup is extremely popular, and are the basis for whole chains of restaurants and even annual festivals. It is often served as a meal by itself with lots of vegetables and long noodles. In Western and European countries, these soups are often found canned in supermarkets and made by many home cooks as simple, hearty comfort food.
When I was a kid, I ate a lot of canned soup, and beef noodle was usually on the list, along with chicken noodle. I always loved the beef noodle soup as a change from the ordinary, and I'll still get a can from time to time, for a quick lunch or something.
I got the Vietnamese version of beef noodle soup some while back and it was delicious. It was served with a side plate of fresh basil, bean sprouts and other vegetables that I could swirl into the soup. The broth was rich and it was undoubtedly one of the best things I've had at that restaurant. You could pick up on the French influence of the consomme type broth, but then had the Asian component of the fresh accompaniments.