Michael Natkin's Soba Noodles in Shiitake-Shoyu Broth with Spring Vegetables


[Photograph: Michael Natkin]

With a repertoire of vegetarian recipes like Herbivoracious, author Michael Natkin is rarely envious of omnivores. But when it comes to Asian noodle soup, there is a slight twinge of jealously.

Instead of living without glorious bowls of umami-rich noodle soups, Natkin has crafted a vegetarian stock that uses kombu, dried shiitakes, leeks, ginger, garlic, and soy to recreate the deep flavors of the decidedly un-veggie friendly inspiration. Natkin takes this mushroomy broth and loads it up with springy asparagus and leeks, an eight-minute egg, nutty buckwheat soba noodles, and cubes of mild soft tofu. Finished off with a a drizzle of sesame oil and sliced scallion, this is a bowl of soup that satisfies with flavors both fresh and deep and all manner of complementary textures.

What Worked: Many soba recipes call for a meat or seafood based stock, Natkin has cleverly composed a vegan variation that possess all of the umami-rich qualities of its meatier counterpart. And completing the dish with springy asparagus and leeks? Kudos, sir.

What Didn't: No complaints from herbivores or omnivores on this noodle soup.

Suggested Tweaks: Feel free to use Natkin's broth in any other Japanese noodle soup recipe such as ramen, somen or udon.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Herbavoracious to give away.