Japanese(ish) noodle soup (3-4 servings)

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Sometimes -- usually after consuming a lot of deliciously nutrient-poor things -- my body craves simple food. At the beginning of this past week, I was definitely at that point. After too many indulgences, I needed to get back to basics, and a flavorful vegetable soup seemed like the way to go.

I found this recipe at the Savvy Vegetarian, made a few changes of my own, and ended up with a filling, nutritious, satisfying Asian-style soup. I think this soup could be adapted to include a variety of vegetables, from snow peas to bell peppers to cabbage, but this time, I used only mushrooms, carrots, and bok choy. And because the broth is made from pantry ingredients, the recipe could be a great way to use up produce you have in the fridge, hence the "year-round" tag below.

You will need:

  • 32 oz vegetable broth (low-sodium if possible)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar because it's all I had)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 3 tsp grated ginger
  • 6-8 shitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 8 oz of your favorite Asian-style noodles (I used Thai rice sticks)
  • 3 scallions, sliced crosswise to the white part
  • 2 heads baby bok choy, sliced crosswise into 1-inch pieces and rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced into thin coins

Steps:

  1. Put the broth, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and ginger in a large stockpot and heat over medium-high. Once it boils, add in the mushrooms and lower heat to a simmer; allow to simmer for 4 minutes.
  2. Add the noodles to the broth mixture (break them in half if they're long) and simmer them in the broth for the amount of time specified on the package. Add the scallions, bok choy, and carrot to the broth for the last 3 minutes of the noodles' cooking time. Test to make sure the noodles are tender, and then serve the soup immediately.

The original recipe called for cubed firm tofu, but I'm not a fan of soft tofu pieces in soup. If you like it, I'm sure it would be a great addition, but I just wasn't up for it. Next time, I'll definitely use a low-sodium vegetable broth, as this batch of soup was pretty darn salty. It still tasted great, but my lips were a bit puckered afterwards! This recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make, even counting the vegetable prep time. It's a soothing, simple meal to counteract the food indulgences that are so prevalent during the summer months!