We have a handful of on the spot meals that go through our rotation each month and/or season. Included are the recipes we shared at our class the other weekend, along with a few other soups and throw together meals adaptable for the weather and what's best and in season at market. In the winter when we want something comforting and familiar, we make this soup. It's an eastern version of chicken noodle, without the chicken and lots of noodle; which is the best part anyway.
This soup base is also what we use when when my dad sends me home with a small bag full of plump little shrimp wontons that he has made, and for when I realize at the last moment of the day that I still haven't made dinner. I love the anise and lemongrass in it, and although it ideally should be left to simmer and reduce, it's not necessary if you're out of time, check the notes for a quicker version.
asian noodle soup
1 quart (4 cups) water
1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
1 6-inch piece of lemongrass, slit along the side
3 green onions
5 star anise
1 carrot, sliced
a knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
rice noodles for 4
root vegetables like carrot, daikon, turnip; grated
chinese greens: gai lan, choi sum, bak choy, napa cabbage, cut into bite size pieces and pre-steamed in broth
thin cuts or shredded cooked meat/poultry
sauces: oyster, fish, mae ploy (sweet chili), sriracha, etc
oils: sesame or chili
Bring the water, broth, lemongrass, onions, anise, carrot, ginger root, 2 Tablespoons of oyster sauce and a spray or two of fish sauce to a low boil. Allow to boil uncovered and reduce until half the amount is left, about a half hour or more. Taste the broth, seasoning with salt or more fish sauce. Remove all the things seeping in the broth, then pour through a strainer with a paper towel inside to remove anymore impurities. This step can be skipped if you don't care, which we usually don't.
In a separate pot, cook the noodles, then strain and keep covered with fresh warm water until ready to serve.
To serve, put a serving of noodles into a bowl, cover with a ladle-ful of broth. Serve with various fixin's, allowing guests to add what they want. I always add a bit of mae ploy, cilantro, sprouts, root veggies and green chinese veggies like gai lan or choi sum.
- Sometimes I don't have the time to wait for the liquid to reduce, so I eliminate the water, adding everything to the stock, then cook at a low boil until it incorporates the flavors of the lemongrass, anise, and ginger.
- If you want to add meat, cook it along with the water so the broth has it's flavor. If it's already cooked, shred it up and add it at the end or as a fix-in.
- Feel free to add whatever other spices or herbs you might like into the broth.
- As for the things you serve with the soup, anything goes.