4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1T soy sauce
3" cinnamon stick
4 cloves of garlic (smashed)
1/2 inch chunk of peeled ginger (chunked)
1/2 lb thin-to-medium rice noodles
3 scallions (finely sliced)
2 thai chiles or other spicy chile (chopped finely)
1/2 lb bean sprouts
handful of chopped cilantro
slightly smaller handful ripped thai basil leaves
simmer the vegetable broth, water, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise in a medium sauce pan for about half an hour to create the rich flavorful broth. prepare the rice noodles according to package directions (usually involving a quick dunk in boiling water). when the noodles are just-tender (don't cook 'em to mush), rinse them with water until the water runs clear, then drain. pile into nice big bowls, squeeze half the lime into the broth, and pour the hot broth over the noodles. top generously with the scallions, chiles, bean sprouts, cilantro, and basil. garnish with hoisin sauce and the lime wedges for a final dash of brightness.
it's easy, it's cheap, it's aromatic, it's supremely comforting, and...well...just plain transcendent. don't be afraid. go to your local asian (preferably vietnamese) market, get your fixin's, and go pho yourself!