Thursday, March 11, 2010

Udon Noodle Soup

We all need an arsenal of quick dinners for that night when you’re running late and everyone is hungry.  This is one of those dinners.  It’s fast, inexpensive and adaptable.  It’s that dinner where you get to use up whatever leftover veggies you have in your fridge or freezer.
It started with these organic Japanese udon noodles that I bought last week.  They’re fully cooked and ready to use..perfect to keep on hand for a quick dinner.  
I putting 4 cups of water in a pot over a high heat.  While I waited for the water to come to a boil, I went through the vegetable drawer of my refrigerator.  A carrot, some button mushrooms, a baby bok choy.  I also had some shelled edamame (green soy beans) in my freezer that I used to up the protein content.  There are 12 grams of protein in a half cup of edamame!
The beauty of this recipe is that you can use what ever you’ve got left over in your fridge. You could use  spinach or chard instead of bok choy.  Pea pods, celery, corn or broccoli would work as well.  The secret is to chop them into thin small pieces.

I cut up a carrot and some button mushrooms.  I also had a piece of ginger which I peeled and minced. I cut the bok choy in half and removed the bottom.

The water should be boiling by the time you’re done chopping your veggies.  Turn off the heat and take about a half cup of the boiled water and put it in a pyrex measuring cup or small bowl and set it aside for a minute.

Drop the pre-cooked noodles into the water along with your vegetables.  If you can’t find pre-cooked noodles where you live, put the uncooked kind in the water boiling water and cook as directed, then turn off the heat and add the vegetables and cover immediately.
Take 4 level tablespoons of a sweet white miso and dissolve it in the reserved hot water.  Miso, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with this product, is a paste made of soybeans and some sometimes rice, barley or other beans, used as a soup base.  I use this miso because it’s lower in sodium but more importantly, it’s organic and unpasteurized.  You can use any variety of miso, a straight soy bean miso will make a stronger broth.
I added 2 tablespoons of mirin, a sweet rice cooking wine, to the dissolved miso and then poured it over the noodles and vegetables.  Let this steam, covered for about 4 or 5 minutes and then it’s done.  The vegetables will be soft but not overdone.  Garish with a little chopped up green onion, parsley or cilantro.
Here’s the recipe for the soup above, but feel free to substitute with different vegetables or noodles and miso.
Udon Noodle Soup
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 side dishes - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
4 cups water
1 12 oz package of cooked udon noodles
1 carrot
1 baby bok choy
10 button mushrooms
1 teaspoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup shelled edamame
4 tablespoons sweet white miso
2 tablespoons mirin
Chopped onion greens for garnish
Bring the water to a boil in a medium sized pot.
Chop the carrot and mushrooms into thin slices.
Peel and mince 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger.
Cut one baby bok choy in half and remove the bottom.
When the water is boiling turn off the heat and remove about 1/2 cup with a pyrex measuring cup.
Put the noodles and vegetables (except for the onions) into the pot and cover.
Dissolve the miso in the reserved water.
Stir in the mirin.
Pour the miso/mirin mix into the soup and stir.
Let the soup sit, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.
Garnish with chopped onion greens.

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