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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Udon Soup

I know I've been MIA, many apologies. My kid and Mr. Man were flu-ey for a week and it was enough to keep them alive and myself uncontaminated. I do have a few recipes to post however, since I've been okay to both cook and eat!

So I bought the Bon Appetit magazine because of the delicious looking grilled sandwich on the cover (we'll get to that later) and found this recipe for Udon Soup. I thought it would be perfect since Mr. Man and Little Man needed something clear and healthful to regain strength.

You know, just because it's in Bon Appetit, doesn't mean it's good. Also, why buy the magazine when they post all the recipes on their site? Seriously, I could have spent that $7 on something delicious! Another plus of recipes on their site is that I can copy and paste rather than typing it all out myself. Woot for websites!

Udon with Mushroom Broth, Cabbage, and Yams

Recipe by Anna Thomas


10 cups Light Vegetable Broth (see recipe) or good-quality canned vegetable broth (such as Swanson) (I used regular veggie broth cubes)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (I only had some frozen stuff)
1 1/2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
3/4 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger (I think I only had about a 1/2 cup)
2 lemongrass stalks, outer dark layers removed, all but bottom 4 inches cut off and discarded
2 6-inch strips dried kombu (I used sushi seaweed since I couldn't find kombu)
2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar (omitted)

2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled yams (red-skinned sweet potatoes)
5 ounces snow peas, trimmed
4 cups 1/2-inch-wide crosswise slices cored Napa cabbage (I used red cabbage, slice it VERY thinly, a 1/2-inch-wide is too wide)
5 ounces slender carrots (preferably assorted colors), peeled, thinly sliced on diagonal
10 ounces Japanese-style udon noodles or soba noodles (I used rice noodles)
1 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup matchstick-size strips peeled fresh ginger
4 to 6 ounces semi-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (optional)
Sambal oelek
Tamari soy sauce

Before we get on to the directions, I think the biggest issue with this soup was that I couldn't find the proper noodles or seaweed. Usually recipes are adaptable so I didn't worry about my substitutions, but maybe this is one of those soups that really requires the specific ingredients listed.


Bring broth and 3 cups water to simmer in large pot over medium heat. Add cilantro, mushrooms, sliced ginger, and lemongrass. Cover; simmer until mushrooms are tender, about 30 minutes. Rinse kombu; add to broth. Simmer 1 minute. Using tongs, remove kombu and mushrooms; discard kombu. Transfer mushrooms to work surface; cut off stems and discard. Cut each mushroom into 3 to 4 strips. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into another large pot; discard solids in strainer. Add tamari and rice vinegar to broth.

DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill mushrooms. Cool, cover, and chill broth.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook yams until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Using skimmer, transfer to medium bowl. Cook snow peas, cabbage, and carrots separately until crisp-tender (snow peas, 30 seconds; cabbage, 1 1/2 minutes; carrots, 2 minutes). Using kimmer, transfer vegetables to separate bowls. Reserve cooking liquid.

DO AHEAD Vegetables can be cooked 2 hours ahead. Let vegetables and liquid stand at room temperature.

Bring cooking liquid to boil. Sprinkle with salt. Add noodles; cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring often. Drain; rinse.

Meanwhile, bring vegetable broth to simmer. Add green onions and ginger strips. Season with salt and pepper.
Using tongs, divide noodles among bowls. Divide mushrooms, yams, snow peas, cabbage, and carrots among bowls, each in separate mound. Divide tofu, if using, among bowls. Ladle broth over and serve, passing sambal oelek and tamari separately.

I don't even have any photos of the end result because it was such a bust. The yams weren't cooked enough, the cabbage was too thick, the noodles were all pasty. The plus side though is that the mushroom broth is freaking delicious! I've frozen a bunch of it and will definitely be making more when it runs out. It was full-flavoured and dark and rich, but not too. Really great broth.

Side notes: Have you ever noticed how much cheaper it is to shop in the "ethnic" aisle of the grocery store? Can't believe it! I cut my costs in half because I went down there looking for kombu. Don't buy the little packages of dried mushrooms in the produce section above the button and cremini mushrooms, go to the ethnic aisle and they have huge bags of the exact same thing for the same price as the 150g ones! Crazy!

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