Tuesday 14 January 2014

Japanese-style soba noodles in ginger miso soup recipe

Japanese-style soba noodles in ginger miso soup with shiitake mushrooms, pak choi and leftover roast chicken

Leftover roast chicken and noodles in ginger miso soup
When I was growing up, my mother would make noodle soups all the time.  With four kids in the house, it was the perfect way for her to prepare a quick, easy meal and to use up whatever was available in the fridge.  Small quantities of a variety of vegetables like pak choi or choy sum would be thrown into steaming hot broth, along with any leftover meat that was available at the time. When I eventually left home and had to fend for myself, this was a dish that featured prominently in my weekly meal plan.  With my limited cooking skills, it was a fast, healthy hot meal that well and truly satisfied.

There are only a few rules when it comes to making noodle soups.  One, you need some broth or stock.  Two, you need noodles.  Three, you need some toppings - which is usually a combination of whatever meat or vegetables happen to be in the fridge.

For this Japanese-style noodle soup, I am using Miso paste.  It comes in the form of a ready made paste and is a quick way to make a tasty broth.  Ginger, smashed to release its fragrance and juices, adds a lovely, warm zing.  If you can't find miso, then vegetable, pork or chicken stock could also be used as substitutes.

Noodles usually comes in two forms : dried or fresh (also called straight-to-wok).  For this recipe, I am using dried soba noodles, which are Japanese thin brown buckwheat noodles, but you could also try udon, ramen or even egg noodles.  If using dried noodles, cooking them separately in a pot of water before adding them back to the broth will help to prevent the soup from becoming gluggy.  Fresh noodles, however, can be added directly.

Meat and Veg
This is the part where you can get creative.  If you have any roast chicken leftover from the night before, then this makes a perfect addition to noodle soup.  A little of it goes a long way, and if there isn't quite enough, just add more veg.  Most vegetables will work for this recipe, carrots, spinach, kale, Chinese greens (Choy Sum or Chinese leaf cabbage), broccoli or even leftover brussels sprouts.  Just remember to cut the vegetables up into small pieces so they cook quickly, and always put them into the saucepan in order of cooking time.

Shiitake mushrooms add a lovely, earthy flavour to the broth - I managed to find fresh ones at Sainsbury's from their Taste the Difference range, but you can also use dried shiitake mushrooms (which will need to be soaked in water for about 20 minutes).

Japanese-style soba noodles in ginger miso soup

makes 2 servings 


1 carrot, sliced into thin matchsticks

1 1-inch piece of ginger, smashed
3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, halved
1 pak choi, stems separated from leaves
3 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons miso paste
2 bundles (125g) dried soba noodles
120g leftover roast chicken, shredded
2 spring onions, finely sliced, to garnish


1.  Cook the noodles according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

2.  Place the ginger, mushrooms, carrots and water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add chicken and pak choi stems and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat to low.  Then add pak choi leaves, cooked noodles and let simmer for 1-2 minutes until chicken is piping hot.

3.  Into a bowl, place miso paste and a ladleful of the broth.  Stir until miso is dissolved.  Pour the miso mixture back into the saucepan and stir to combine.

Before serving, discard the ginger.  Ladle into 2 bowls and serve garnished with spring onions.

Note:  I also sprinkled some Japanese chilli powder over the noodles, but this is optional.

This post was written as part of Sainsbury's Make Your Roast go further campaign.

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