A few weeks back, I was sick. I wanted soup.
Normally I like making my meals from scratch. When I’m sick, however, I gravitate toward pre-packaged, processed, no-fuss favorites I grew up with – boxed soups whose two main ingredients are dried-up, inch-long noodles (always too few) and a mysterious, highlighter-yellow, “chicken”-flavored powder.
We didn't have any of that in our pantry, so I was forced to improvise.
Below is the recipe I came up with. And, if I do say so myself, it’s a keeper. Frankly, it’s one I wish I would have had on hand back when I was on food stamps. The ingredients are cheap, the recipe is simple, and results are as flavorful as any Asian soup I've ever had in a restaurant.
This might look like a long list of ingredients, but more than half of what’s listed is optional. Leave out whatever you don’t have or don’t like, and I'll wager this will still come out a satisfying soup.
Here’s what you’ll need (serves 1):
2 ounces Ramen-style noodles (I use Ty Ling Naturals Chinese Noodles, but any dried, ramen-style will do. Just toss out the spice packet.)
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (Can be left out for vegetarians, though it really is, in my opinion, an essential ingredient. Sub in more soy sauce if you leave it out.)
3 Fat cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
1 Heaping teaspoon finely minced ginger (I use the stuff that comes in a jar and has the consistency of applesauce.)
1 or 2 Whole dry red chili peppers, to taste (Optional)
2 Scallions, chopped (Optional)
1 Squirt of Sriracha, to taste (Optional)
Small bunch chopped cilantro (Optional)
1 Cup vegetables (Optional – just about anything – frozen, fresh, or leftover – will do as long as it’s not already seasoned in a way that will clash with the soup’s seasoning.)
Juice of 1/4 lime (Optional)
1. In a pot, bring 3 cups of stock or water to a gentle boil. Add the soy and fish sauces, garlic, ginger, and scallions (and the chili peppers, if using). Let the broth simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the garlic has softened and the fishy smell from the fish sauce has dissipated. If you’re using any uncooked root vegetables, like carrots or radishes, or vegetables with tough stems, like broccoli or cauliflower, now is when you toss those in. (For a heartier soup, I’ll sometimes add a few cubes of extra-firm tofu or pre-cooked meatballs from the freezer.)
2. Add the noodles to the boiling pot. If you’re using more delicate vegetables, like de-stemmed leafy greens or anything pre-cooked, toss them in (I used leftover broccoli rabe in the bowl in the picture). Boil for 3 minutes or until noodles are just a bit more al dente than you want.
3. If using, add cilantro, lime juice, and Sriracha. Stir. Taste the soup and add another splash of soy sauce if you think it needs it.
4. Ladle the soup into a big bowl and enjoy!
Let me know if you try it! Let me know if you like it! Let me know if you hate it!
Most of the things I've written online are related to my day job. So here's where I'll post about books I read and music I listen to and thoughts I think and probably divulge some tidbits related to the novel I'm writing.