Who doesn’t like a good noodle soup? There is something so completely satisfying about this meal in a bowl. You don’t have to muck around with bread or anything else – you get your carbohydrates veggies and a bit of protein, all in one bowl. The thing about Asian style soups is you need really good stock to make them work. With this vegetarian stock, the vegetables are first sauted with salt, and then slowly simmered for an hour. This stock makes a great soup base but also adds that finishing touch and depth of flavour to stir fries. Just a word of warning: this recipe makes a lot of stock, so it’s good to check if you have room in your freezer before you launch into making a big pot. However, it will keep well, frozen, for up to three months. You can add extra aromatics to this basic stock, depending on what kind of soup you want to make – tamari and mirrin for Japanese soups, vegetarian oyster sauce, soy and ginger for Chinese soups, or ginger, kaffir lime leaves, chilli and lemongrass if you are making a Thai soup or curry.
This udon soup is a proper meal with everything you need to sustain you in the one bowl. I’ve added roasted pumpkin, cabbage and shitake mushrooms as soup toppings here but you can improvise and adapt and add anything you feel like onto this basic udon noodle and miso base. Udon noodle soup, topped with tempura, is a particular favorite of mine. For protein, I just sliced some pre-seasoned teriyaki tofu but you could stir fry tofu yourself, or add cubes of silken tofu, or you could ditch the tofu altogether and add a boiled or poached egg. Whichever way you decide to roll with this soup, an absolute must is Japanese red pepper mix, Shichimi Togarashi, sprinkled liberally over the top.
Kylie Kwong’s Asian vegetable stock
Adapted from Simple Chinese Food by Kylie Kwong
Makes about 12–15 cups
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 medium sized red onion, finely diced
- 15 slices of ginger
- 10 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 3 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced
- 6 sticks of celery, sliced
- 10 spring onions (scallions) trimmed and cut into 5 cm (2½ inches) lengths
- ¾ cup finely sliced coriander (cilantro) roots and stems
- 6 litres (6 quarts) cold water
- Heat oil in large stockpot and fry onions, ginger, garlic and salt over high heat for about a minute.
- Reduce heat and add carrots, celery, spring onions, celery and coriander. Saute gently for about another 3 minutes until vegetables are lightly browned.
- Add 6 litres of water to pot and bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and skim the top with a spoon to remove impurities.
- Turn to heat, to a very gentle simmer (the surface should barely be moving), cover and cook for an hour, skimming if needed.
- Strain through a fine sieve, muslin, or clean Chux or J-Cloth. Can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to three days or in freezer for up to three months.
Udon noodle miso soup with roasted pumpkin, cabbage and shitake mushrooms
Adapted from L.V. Anderson’s miso ramen soup, Slate Magazine
- 1 small butternut pumpkin (700 to 900 grams 1½ to 2 pounds) peeled, seeded and cut into 2 cm chunks
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Salt and black pepper
- ¼ head of savoy cabbage (about 170 grams or 6 ounces) cut into 2½ cm (1 inch) pieces
- 8 mushrooms (I used shitake but portabello would also be good)
- 180 grams sliced seasoned tofu
- 280 grams (10 ounces) udon noodles
- 1 litre (4 cups) Asian vegetable stock
- ¼ cup of white miso
- 4 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
- Heat oven to 200°C (400°F). Toss the pumpkin in oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast squash for about 20 minutes, until beginning to brown, add cabbage and mushrooms (slice mushrooms into halves or quarters if they are very large). Toss in oil with pumpkin and cook for another 10 minutes until cabbage and mushrooms are tender and lightly browned.
- Heat water in large pot, add udon noodles and cook according to packet instructions until just al dente. Drain thoroughly and rinse.
- Heat vegetable stock in pan and bring to a simmer, take off heat and whisk through miso.
- Divide the noodles, vegetables, tofu and spring onions amongst serving bowls and pour the miso broth over the top. Serve immediately.