Well, I guess I was wrong about always bringing up the rear, as I went ahead and made this today. Stacey's post reminded me to use my pressure cooker and the stock was quick and easy.
I couldn't find my star anise (I know it's here somewhere) and my whole foods coop didn't have any either, so like the original poster I used some five-spice powder. It was a nice flavor, but I'm still curious about the star anise and will try to find some for next time.
I just made this for myself so I cut way back on the condiments and just used green onions, mushrooms, cabbage, green peppers, spinach and some seitan that I had made a while back and was in my freezer.
It turned out really well, and it will be very easy to assemble a bowl full every day for lunch.
An excellent recipe choice!