For the fortified broth:
1 large onion, quartered
1 bulb garlic, trimmed to expose the cloves, keep root attached
3 inches peeled and halved ginger root
A spray of non-aerosol oil or olive oil
3 star anise
3 pods of cardamom
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 cinnamon stick
1 large fresh bay leaf
1 teaspoon white or black peppercorns
2 quarts broth (for beef, use beef brodo or bone broth; for chicken, shrimp or pork, use chicken brodo or bone broth)
About 2½ tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
Cook's choice of: 1½ pounds flank, boneless sirloin or rib eye, very thinly sliced; 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, very thinly sliced; 1 pork tenderloin, very thinly sliced; or 20 to 24 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved across the vein line
1 pound thin rice noodles
Fine sea salt
4 cups packed Thai mint (2 bunches, picked), Thai basil (2 bunches, picked) and cilantro (1 large bunch, picked)
2 jalapeño or 3 serrano peppers for spicy, or Fresno chilies for milder, very thinly sliced
1 package mung bean sprouts
2 limes, cut into wedges
Hoisin and Sriracha or sambal oelek, to pass at table
For the fortified broth, char onion, garlic and ginger under boiler. Place in soup pot.
Wrap star anise, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cinnamon, bay and peppercorns in cheesecloth or fill a large tea filter bag and tie off with kitchen string. Add to soup pot.
Add broth, fish sauce and lime juice to soup pot with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes at low, then strain and return to pot. Bring to a boil before serving.
To serve, place your protein of choice in freezer for a few minutes to firm for thin slicing.
Bring water to boil per package directions, cook noodles about 6 minutes, drain.
Line large bowls with a sprinkle of fine sea salt. To each bowl, add noodles to one side and sliced protein to the other, pour over boiling hot broth and add ¼ of the herbs off to the side and sprinkle over with chilies and sprouts, and add wedges of lime. Pass with sauces to mix in.