Pho-esque Lunch

This is almost a daily lunch in these COVID days. Warm, soothing, adjustable, and tasty. Exactly what the world isn't at the moment. Enjoy! Many of the ingredients are powders just because it's easier to have them on-hand, but if you've got fresh garlic and ginger, by all means, dose it up. (Onion powder adds a zing all on its own so I use it no matter what.) I substitute and add spices pretty much at will with this recipe. The ones I've included here are the stand-bys, but by all means, use your imagination and create. Also, add meat or tofu! I smoke tofu a lot and it goes well in the soup. I've used turkey, chicken, and beef and everything just seems to work. It also works with ramen noodles.

Now that I have it typed up and am looking at it, the recipe looks damned intimidating. Trust me, it's not. I make the soup following these same steps and have it cooked and eaten within an hour. And during that hour, I complete not only the bowl of soup but the daily Wall Street Journal Crossword, or at least the majority of it. Try the recipe and you'll see what I mean. Since you essentially stir fry the veggies in the same pan you cook the soup in, you dirty up two pans and a bowl, and perhaps a knife and cutting board, so clean-up is incredibly easy.


  • Rice noodles - a single serving is about a loose handful with the tip of your thumb touching the first knuckle of your middle finger
  • 2 tbs Canola oil
  • 1 tsp+ Garlic powder (to taste)
  • 1tsp+ Onion powder (to taste)
  • 1 tsp+ Ginger powder (to taste)
  • 3 - 5 Star anise cloves (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup Sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup Diced onion
  • 1/4 cup Chopped celery
  • Honey - enough to drizzle all over the veggies while sauteeing...a Tbsp?
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar
  • 3 tbs Soy sauce; I actually recommend tamari sauce if you've got it
  • 1 tsp+ Sesame oil - it's a personal preference issue, I like sesame oil and think it imparts an authentic Asian flavor. Some don't care for it. Let your taste guide you.
  • Dash of Mirin, more or less to taste
  • Dash of Wright's Liquid Smoke (I use this sometimes to add diversity)
  • Dash of Sake - if you've got it, use it. It doesn't hurt to take a swig after adding the dash to the soup, either.
  • 2 Green onions, sliced
  • 5 or 6 Jalepeño pepper slices
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha
  • Sashimi togarishi
  • Furikake

What To Do With Them

  1. Put rice noodles in a small frying pan and cover with water - bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  2. While noodles are coming to a boil, heat a sauce/soup pan that will hold all of the ingredients over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes - literally like 120 seconds, maybe more depending on your stove. Add the Canola oil and let it come to temperature, about 30 seconds - oil should shimmer when you look at it.
  3. Add the carrots, onion, and celery. Stir them around until most are lying flat in the pan. Drizzle with honey and shake the pan. Let it sit on the fire for a minute or two, then shake and stir.
  4. Add the sesame oil to the veggies, and throw in the star anise, garlic powder, onion powder, and ginger powder. Stir/shake the pan and let it heat for another minute or two - don't burn the powders
  5. Slowly add the chicken or beef stock and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the white vinegar, mirin, Wright's Liquid Smoke, sake, and anything else you'd like
  7. Simmer all the ingredients for about 5 minutes
  8. Check the rice noodles, they should be done. Try one and make sure that it's not still tough - al dente doesn't work for rice noodles!
  9. Drain the noodles and put them in a large soup bowl
    1. If you don't want the star anise cloves in your soup bowl, remove them now :-)
  10. Pour the stock over the noodles, garnish with jalepeños, green onions, hoisin and Sri Racha, sashimi togarishi (if you dare), and furikake and enjoy!