Last fall, during the first bout of cold weather the season had to offer, Cara wrote about this Asian Noodle Soup. It was chicken-free and packed with good veggies—cabbage, carrot, peppers—and fresh cilantro. But should we call it Asian? That was a heated point of contention.
One commenter gave us a big old slap on the wrist for making cultural blanket statements, and said Cara's use of the term Asian to represent the dish's ingredients and flavors was like calling Spaghetti Pomodoro "European Spaghetti." But the dish stood out in my memory not just because it sparked a controversy, but because it sounded incredibly satisfying and delicious.
I liked the flavor combination so much that I decided to base this soba noodle dish off of it. Though shitakes are usually a bit pricey, they stretch a surprisingly long way in this soup. It's just as comforting as my mother's classic chicken noddle, but made even better by the addition of ginger, soy, and soba.
Shopping List: 4 scallions, $0.50; 1 knob ginger, $0.50; ¼ pound shitake mushrooms, $2.00; 1 quart stock, $3; 1/3 pound soba noodles, $0.75; 1/3 pound chicken, $1
Pantry Items: Oil; Shallot; Garlic; Soy Sauce
Total Cost (for 2-4 portions): $7.75
About the authors: Phoebe and Cara are the co-founders of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, a food and cooking website for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. They have a heated, decade-long rivalry about whose Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie is the best. Their book, In The Small Kitchen, will be published in the spring of 2011 by William Morrow. Visit their blog here.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts divided)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ pound shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/3 pound raw chicken breast (about 1 small), cut into strips
- 1/3 pound buckwheat soba noodles, broken in half
- Sriracha (optional)
Heat vegetable oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over a medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the shallot, white parts of the scallions, and the ginger, and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and the garlic and cook, stirring occaasionally, until the mushrooms have begun to release their juices and become tender, about 4 minutes.
Pour in the stock and soy sauce, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and the noodles and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the noodles are soft, about 9 minutes, or as specified on the package. Add half of the remaining green scallions to the pot. Taste for seasoning: if lacking in salt, add more soy; if you like spice, add some Sriracha. To serve, ladle into 4 bowls and eat immediately, garnished with the remaining scallions.