Sorta Thai, sorta Vietnamese, sorta Cambodian ... I basically just threw together some goodies tonight into a quick but filling soup that didn't come out of a recipe book but that I don't think would offend anyone looking for a warming dinner-in-a-dish from any of the tasty cuisines of Indo-China.

I started by bringing 4 cups of chicken stock to the simmer with two smashed garlic cloves, two fresh ginger "coins" and four star anise, letting them simmer and add flavor to the broth while I prepared all the other ingredients.

Wash and set aside one bunch fresh spinach and 1 cup bean sprouts.

Chop 2 scallions fine.

Mix in a small bowl the juice of 1 lime and 1 teaspoon sugar (mix, taste for sweet-sour balance, and adjust as necessary), 2 teaspoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce) and 1 tablespoon hot Thai ginger-chile sauce.

Cut 8 ounces of pork tenderloin into paper-thin slices.

Scoop out and discard the garlic, ginger and star anise from the broth. Add 4 ounces of fresh Chinese wheat noodles and the bean sprouts; simmer until the noodles cook and rise to the surface. Add the pork and continue heating just until it cooks through; if you've sliced it thin enough, this should take 30 seconds or less. Stir in the scallions and lime/nam pla mixture. Add the spinach, reduce heat to low, and cover for two or three minutes, just until the spinach leaves wilt.

I think chopped fresh cilantro added at the end would have made it even better, but the grocery was out. :( It could also have done with more spice -- maybe a chopped jalapeno or a dash of dried red pepper flakes or cayenne -- but it was just fine in this relatively mild form.

It went very well indeed with two dry, aromatic Rieslings.