Some nights, I know exactly what I plan to make for dinner. The menu was planned, the groceries are in the pantry and it's a done deal. Other nights, like tonight, I leave the office, wondering what on earth I can pull from the fridge and put on the table. Some of those unplanned dinners, become unplanned blog posts, and that is just one reason that I always keep my camera in the kitchen. When I walked through the door a little before 5:00 PM, both of the kids were still napping and the house was filled with a wonderful aroma. My wife had made vegetable stock with the root veggies that were filling the shelves of our refrigerator and after one taste, I knew we had to use this stock tonight rather than freezing it for another day. The flavors were so rich, so aromatic, and this was the solution to my "unplanned dinner" dilema.
I am pretty sure it wasn't me that thought of Udon Noodle Soup for dinner, but after looking through the pantry and checking on some flavor profiles I pushed my comfort zone and made this dish for the very first time. It was simple! Often, Udon Noodle Soup will use miso or a meat stock as a base, but the vegetable stock had come together perfectly with a teaspoon of marmite, and this dish could be a delightful microbiotic meatless meal. Some quick research told me that greens would be perfect in the Udon Noodle Soup so the cabbage we plucked from our garden on Sunday, together with the kale sitting in the fridge gave me the the final ingredients I needed.
Now, you don't need to make your own vegetable stock, but I recommend you do. I'll update this post with a vegetable stock recipe in the future, but for now, email me if you'd like to know how to make your own. Here is how I made this awesome dish — an awesome soup, rich in flavor, filling, and almost exclusively from the earth.
Udon Noodle Soup Recipe
You will need the following ingredients:
- 4-5 Cups Vegetable Stock
- 2-4 Cups of sliced greens (cabbage, kale, collard greens are all great for this dish)
- 1 cup dried shitake mushrooms (available from Amazon or sometimes at Costco)
- 1 inch of fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon tamari sauce
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 1/3 packet Udon Noodles (you can buy these in bulk on Amazon or in your local Whole Foods)
- Diced root veggies from home made vegetable stock (optional)
To get started, put 4 cups of vegetable stock over a medium heat and begin to warm. If you have a fifth cup of stock, set this aside to use when we cook the udon noodles, but don't be concerned if you only have 4 cups (a 1 quart box of stock equals 4 cups). Add 1 cup of water to the stock and when it begins to bubble, stir in a tablespoon of tamari sauce followed by one teaspoon of corn starch to thicken the liquid ever so slightly. Put your inch of ginger into the stock followed by your coarsely sliced greens. Reduce to a low light and wait until the liquid starts to bubble.
Add the mushrooms and allow the soup to reach a gentle boil. Reduce to a low heat to keep warm. You can leave the soup on a low light for up to 30 minutes. If you want to keep it on the heat longer, remove the ginger at this point so it doesn't become overpowering.
In a separate pot, pour one cup of stock and one cup of water and place over a medium-high heat. If you don't have any stock left, don't worry, use two cups of water and sprinkle a little salt, or dissolve half a teaspoon of marmite in the water. I guess you could add the udon noodles to the same pot. I decided not to and if you anticipate leftovers, you are going to want to rise the starch out of the noodles once they are cooked. Do not skip the rinse if you don't plan to finish the noodles when they are warm.
Once the water reaches a rolling boil, cook the udon noodles for four minutes. That's all! You do not want to overcook them so please have a timer nearby.
The udon noodles will cook quickly and you have four minutes to invite people to the table and grab some bowls! When the noodles are cooked, put them in the bottom of your soup bowl, then ladle the soup and greens over them. If you have diced root veggies from your stock, add a tablespoon to your soup before serving.
This is a nutritiousness affordable and delicious dish and I had all the ingredients in the house. Next time you're in the store and see Udon Noodles, pick them up and make this dish. The flavors are rich and this is a dish that warms you from the inside. It's light to digest but very filling at the same time. To be honest the dish was a wonderful surprise and I plan to make it again.