Serves 6

On almost any night, we love nothing more than a big, hot bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup—pho. Don’t worry about the number of ingredients in this recipe. Pho is nothing more than a flavorful broth often perfumed with star anise. Since that’s not easy to find, we use Chinese five-spice powder (which has star anise in it). As for the chili paste and hoisin sauce, the Essential Pantry (page 8) is incomplete without these key ingredients.



1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

3 quarts chicken broth


Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound rice vermicelli noodles, cooked

1 pound sliced cooked meat, such as from

Braised Veal Brisket (page 69)

Leaves from 1 bunch fresh cilantro

Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil

2 limes, quartered

2 handfuls bean sprouts

Hoisin sauce

Sambal chili paste


1. Heat the sesame oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and five-spice powder and sauté for 2–3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low. Taste and season with salt and pepper and cover the pot.


2. Divide the cooked rice noodles among 6 soup bowls. Over each bowl of noodles, scatter equal portions of sliced meat, then pour the hot broth over the noodles so that the meat is barely covered.


3. In the center of the table put plates of the fresh herbs, lime quarters, and bean sprouts. Each person can add his own fresh herbs and bean sprouts to the soup. Squeeze lime over the top, season with hoisin and chili, stir well, and start slurping.


—From My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing