8 ounces thick rice noodles
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 inch piece fresh ginger , peeled, cut into 1/8-inch rounds, and smashed
2 cinnamon sticks (3-inch)
2 star anise
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
12 ounces sirloin steak , sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups bean sprouts (about 5 ounces)
1 jalapeño chile , sliced thin
2 scallions , white and green parts, sliced thin on an angle
1/3 cup loose-packed fresh basil leaves , leaves torn in half if large
1/2 cup loose-packed fresh mint leaves , leaves torn in half if large
1/2 cup loose-packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
Deep Fried Onions (optional)
Tomato wedges (optional)
Adding herbs and other flavoring elements at the last minute creates a soup with many clear, distinct tastes.
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Off heat, add rice sticks, and let sit until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and distribute among four bowls.
2. Bring all ingredients to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer partially covered to blend flavors, about 20 minutes. Remove solids with slotted spoon and discard. Cover and keep hot over low heat until ready to serve.
Assembling the Soup
3. Season steak with salt and pepper. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of steak slices in single layer and sear until well-browned, 1 to 2 minutes on each side; set aside. Repeat with remaining slices.
4. Divide the noodles and sprouts among the bowls
5. Add the steak, then ladle in the broth.
6. Sprinkle on the remaining ingredients and serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately.
Note: Cooked chicken or pork can be substituted for the beef.