food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

asian noodle soupMy Rachel, the ‘pop picker’ for food to glow, is smack in the middle of exams. And what does a teen with a heavy diet of exams need? Yup, home cooking. They may want crisps and chocolate and those horrid, blue caffeine-loaded drinks, but we know – and they do too – that good food, in steady doses, is what brain and body need under stress. And a three-hour paper on teleological ethics (nah, me neither) sounds pretty stressful to me.noodle soup mise en placeI am exceedingly lucky, and shan’t rub it in, that my Rachel asks for healthy food. Like I said, lucky. It’s me who is the slacker. If I am especially tired or stressed I am the one most likely to crave tortilla chips or buttery toast. Or if it is really bad, peanut M&Ms. I know! Shock horror. Mostly I ignore this feeling and it goes away. Especially if I know I have all the fixings on hand to make a rejuvenating and ultra quick soup.

I realise it isn’t M&Ms, but soup is nurturing enough to conquer the little sugar devil that sits on my/our tight, knotted shoulders during testing times. Besides, it isn’t usually sugar that we really want. We want a hug and some reassurance. Enter soup.

This is something that I make fairly often regardless of stress levels. It is quick, full of zesty flavours and with a pleasing menu of textures. I have been fortunate enough to be mainly around during Rachel’s exam leave to make this soupy lunch for us. But even if I wasn’t it would be easy to leave a box of pre-prepped bits and bobs to build this or a similar soup. A pinch pot of powdered stock with a dod of tamarind paste, a filled kettle of water, an envelope of ready-cooked udon noodle, plus the veg box: wholesome, flavoursome soup in a snap. Applicable to desk-bound work lunches, too.

Another great lunch we have had recently is stir-frying some ruby chard, chilli, garlic and shallot, and mixing it with warmed cooked lentils and hot-smoked salmon. I then tumble it onto a grain-studded shingle of sourdough toast and top with some Greek yogurt. Earthy, chewy, savoury – just mmm.

But soup is always going to be our favourite. Fragrant, nose-runningly hot soup. Not even a sugar devil can argue with that.

asian noodle soupQuick and Clean Fragrant Noodle Soup

Last year: Cauliflower and Green Olive Tapenade Gratin

Two years ago: Sage and Walnut Cauliflower Cheese

Miss R’s track of the week: Baz Luhrmanns’ Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) – we love this old, kooky but highly thought-provoking song. Perfect for giving perspective.

The key – for me – is to keep this simple.  And seasonal. My tips: start with a good broth – homemade or best quality bought. Keep everything the same kind of size, possibly shaving any harder produce you might choose to throw in. Use what noodles you like: I like buckwheat soba or slippery, fat udon. Oh, and herbs. The herbs will make this soup sing. I favour more Asian overtones, but depending on the veg a sprig of rosemary or a raft of bay will work a treat.

I am giving rough quantities here but please do as you like.

Serves 2.

Buckwheat soba noodles – a paper-wrapped hank, OR one small envelope of pre-cooked Udon noodles (the latter make this a five-minute pan-to-bowl lunch)

Vegetable or Chicken stock, homemade or best quality – 700ml (3 cups plus 3 tbsp)

Courgette/Zucchini – half, thinly sliced

Savoy or other seasonal green cabbage – a thinly sliced double handful

Spring onions/Scallions – 5, thinly sliced

Edamame or Peas (frozen is fine) – shallow handful

Mushrooms, chestnut or Asian – a handful, sliced

Red chilli – ½ , deseeded and diced

Tamarind paste OR lime juice – 1 tbsp (more, to taste)

Mint leaves and Coriander/Cilantro leaves – shallow handful, roughly chopped

Optional: toasted coconut, 1 tsp grated ginger

buckwheat soba noodles

buckwheat soba noodles

If you are using soba noodles, cook according to packet directions and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Bring the stock to the boil and add all ingredients except the cooked udon or soba noodles, the herbs and coconut. Bring back up to the boil then turn down to simmer for 3 minutes.  Pop in the noodles and let simmer for a further minute before ladling into bowls and garnishing with the fresh herbs and coconut, if using. Some of you may like to spike this with a dash of fish sauce.

This is a super-fresh soup, made to be eaten just after it is cooked.

asian noodle soup

noodle soup with udon – taken on my phone

34 thoughts on “Quick and Clean Fragrant Noodle Soup

  1. Gorgeous! I’ve started coaching a woman who eats cream of chicken soup from a can every day for lunch (so sad…)…This will be a major-fresh substitute!

    1. Poor lady. Many of us have been there in the past. Hope her socks are well and truly knocked off with a taste of homemade, easily-made, soup. Thanks for commenting, Susan.

  2. Heavenly, want now!
    ps where do you get your soba noodles cos mine done have that natty little spotted tie holding the bunch…and I like that very much 🙂

    1. Ah, I think those were from Real Foods. I tried to get some from Waitrose but none to be had. Love those fat udons too. Hope the workmen are getting on well and not too much pesky dust and mess.

  3. Laura says:

    You are spot-on – our brains need healthy food not junk when we’re counting on them! This looks delicious and full of brain-supporting goodness!

    1. Thanks Laura. Although a wee bit of what you fancy during exams won’t go amiss!

  4. You’re such a good mom! I love the sound of this soup, and it could go in so many directions with such a solid base. My local natural food store always carries black rice noodles which I think would be a stunning contrast to the green cabbage and red chili. Sending lots of positive energy for the exams!

    1. Ah, cheers Katie. So many directions is right. Today I Instagramed a pic of its latest incarnation – with smoked mackerel(!) and freshly grated horseradish. Crazy-good and so filling. Those black rice noodles sound like something I need to find, asap 🙂

  5. narf77 says:

    The perfect vehicle for the homemade udon recipe that I found the other day :). Looks like I am going to be stomping on a garbage bag full of dough for my supper tonight! Cheers for the delicious share 🙂

    1. Share the homemade udon oodles recipe link with us? Pretty please, with sriracha on top?

      1. Awesome. Thanks Miss Fran. I will click over just now!

      2. narf77 says:

        I am eating some of the most AWESOME homemade granola clusters ever invented. Predominately buckwheat with cinnamon and coconut sugar and sunflower seeds held together with sunflower seed butter and (in my case) date paste…all cooked till golden brown and inhaled with homemade sesame milk as I bask in the joy of my intestinal happiness. Here’s the recipe should I have piqued your interest 🙂

        http://ohsheglows.com/2013/02/20/blissful-buckwheat-granola-clusters-oil-free/

      3. I get ohsheglows in my bloglovin feed so not sure why this slipped past me. Lovely jubbly. Thanks for sharing

      4. narf77 says:

        One last share…

        http://www.cooktellsastory.com/apps/blog/show/4316042-green-tea-soba-matcha-soba

        This site has all sorts of info about making soba by hand

  6. Kellie you’re a mind reader…..all they way home I was dreaming of noodle soup.
    Just perfect for long hard brain squeezing days!
    I might even add some little frozen Japanese cabbage dumplings….to up the comfort food score even higher 🙂 yum,yum.

    1. Oh you ARE a devil mentioning Japanese cabbage dumplings. Now I am just going to have to go and get some tomorrow. Where do you go for them? I shall try Matthew’s, below the Imperial Palace on Longston Rd.

      1. The ones currently nesting in the deep freeze ( and in our tummies after some lovely bowls of dumpling soup with a bigger chilli hit than I meant) came from the Chinese supermarket at the foot of Leith Walk, but I’m sure Matthews will have them too.
        Surprisingly I picked up a delicious bag of Japanese prawn and cabbage dumplings at Costco back in November, but they’re all used up now!

  7. Kellie, you had me at the title… quick, clean and fragrant soup… sounds deliciously good and mouthwatering! Incidentally, the second image is showing up as a question mark.

    1. Hmm, it is showing up on my Mac. Temporary glitch in the ethersphere perhaps? Glad you approve of the soup. It is nice at room temperature too, if that is any boost to you all sweltering away in Oz!

  8. cheri says:

    What a great looking soup, love your tips!

  9. I hope my children will enjoy soups like this . I am introducing them to spices now gradually and then I will slowly move on to hotter flavours but for now I think they would love a soup like this based on a good chicken stock minus the chilli. I love that bowl too!

  10. Deena Kakaya says:

    This is totally and utterly, my kind of food. I love noodles and pasta, I love colour and variety and it goes without saying that I love spice and punch flavours. I’d have this at any time of the day, perfect x

  11. I do love broth like soup with lots of textures and flavours. Just come home from a Korean popup with a similar soup (and we had Bibimbap. Soo wonderful.)

  12. Gilly says:

    I have been making a lot of this style of soup either using left over chicken soup or miso as the base and adding whatever veg I have available – it’s really wonderful.

  13. Can’t wait to try this one too! I have now made your other cabbage soup 3 times and everyone likes it! 😀

    1. Oh that’s so great to hear that the cabbage and freekeh soup is a ‘keeper’. Let me know if this is too ;-). I make vaguely similar versions of this when I am working from home.

  14. Urvashi Roe says:

    Love your description -Nose runningly – so true for spicy soups. Almost Pho like. Looks very clean and cleansing!

    1. Thank you, Urvashi. Quite a compliment. I love hot, nose-running soups. Not very appetising for the viewer, but heaven for the diner…

  15. Shannon Lim says:

    Wow your daugther asks for healthy food.. Couldn’t agree with your daughter more, I just want simple comfort food when I’m stressed. clear soups, congee. It’s before my menstrual that I crave for junk food.. hormonal swings 🙂

    1. Don’t we all! I am moving into the next phase but even with that one I am blaming hormones for dietary cravings

  16. You’re a woman after my heart, Kellie. I love quick and easy soups like this (obviously), but I, too, will reach for the toast or crackers or something carby and easy when I’m stressed or have a bit too much on my plate. An arsenal of pre-chopped veg and protein is such a great thing to have on hand for a quick and easy soup like this. I’ve not tried putting tamarind paste in mine before! I’ll definitely do that in the future.

  17. Adelemm says:

    This looks fabulous and your photography is stunning. Thanks for the follow, I’ve returned the compliment and look forward to much more of this stunning food.

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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