Udon Soup for the Soul

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[While I did not intend for either jars or illness to be the theme this week, it appears the nasty bugs in my body have other plans.  Please enjoy this soup recipe, orginally written up for the wonderful Sparkle Stories blog, while I sip some hot tea and hit the hay early.]

Sometimes we all need the soul-soothing that a big bowl of soup provides, particularly when we've had a bad day or are feeling sick.  Our go-to recipe for those times is Nigella Lawson's "Noodle Soup for Needy People". 

While we always stick to the essentials of udon noodles and broth, over the years we've varied the other ingredients to make the recipe more our own.  

The most important part to me is the ginger.  Just the smell of it, as I begin dicing, makes my shoulders relax and my heart glow warmer.  

And then, something bright green!  In the winter those spots of green get rare, so a handful of snow peas or spinach is a must.

Lastly, I like to finish mine off with a few drops of Sriracha hot sauce.  Because we all need the extra heat when it's freezing outside.

Those are just my favorites, though.  The thing that makes this recipe great is that you can completely customize it to reflect the ingredients that make your heart happy.

Another thing that makes it awesome?  It's super easy to pack up for a friend or neighbor who's feeling under-the-weather, so pass the soul-soothing goodness along!

Soul-Soothing Noodles

(Inspired by Nigella Lawson's "Noodle Soup for Needy People") (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients

  • 1 package udon noodles

For the broth

  • 6 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • a thumb-sized nub of fresh ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil

Ideas for toss-ins

  • Bok choy
  • Spinach or Kale
  • Snow peas
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Bean sprouts
  • Cooked chicken

Ideas for toppings

  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Cilantro
  • A fried or poached egg

Directions

Begin by pouring the stock into a large pot.  Finely dice the ginger and garlic, and add it to the pot.  Add the soy sauce and sesame seed oil, and bring the broth to a boil.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package directions.  When the noodles are done rinse them well with cold water to halt the cooking.

If you're going to eat this soup right away, toss the "toss-ins" in the broth to cook for just a minute or two.  Then turn the heat off on the broth.  Put a pile of noodles in each bowl, and ladle over a scoop of the broth and veggies.  Top with peppers, sriracha, a few sprigs of cilantro, a cooked egg--whatever you have in your fridge that looks good.  The veggies will continue to cook in the hot broth, so tuck-in right away before they have a chance to get soggy.

If you're packaging this up to take for a friend, it's better to leave the veggies uncooked.  I recommend using two mason jars.  Fill one with broth.  Fill the other half way with cold noodles and half way with pre-chopped veggies.  Your friend then need only heat the broth, pour it over the veggies and noodles, and let it sit for a minute or two before enjoying.