By Elke Probkevitz
I love soup, and a good pot of noodle soup is always a crowd pleaser. But ramen takes a cup of noodle soup to a whole new experience. Ramen is the best kind of comfort food. This is not like that instant soup filled with MSG that may have been a quick and easy guilty pleasure. Real ramen soup has complex flavors and so many possible variations, you can’t possibly ever get bored of it. This is my new soup obsession and I’d like to share its secrets with you.
The Noodles. All ramen soups include some sort of noodles. Use the instant variety if you can’t find authentic ramen; just remove the flavor packet and follow the directions to cook noodles and drain.
The Veggies. Roast or sauté vegetables of choice. Choosing to roast your vegetables is a great way to add richer flavor to your ramen soup, especially to a vegetarian ramen. Cut up vegetables like sweet potato and eggplant into cubes and roast at 425°F with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper until soft and caramelized and the flavors are concentrated. Then add to the broth. Sauté vegetables right in the pot for a quicker cooking method.
The Protein. Select and cook your protein of choice: tofu, beef, chicken, or turkey. Any protein can work in a ramen soup and will change up the flavor profile of your soup. Combine your protein with vegetables that pair well with it.
The Stock. Choose a stock to go with the protein you choose (vegetable, chicken, or beef) and bring to a simmer. Add miso for a deeper, rich flavor. Use dried mushrooms and reconstitute them to add deeper flavor to a vegetarian ramen soup.
The Egg. A 6-minute egg or soft-boiled egg, depending on preference, is added as a garnish to be eaten with the ramen for a more authentic experience. Cut one egg in half for each bowl of ramen soup and place on top for a beautiful, appealing presentation. This is definitely optional for anyone who doesn’t like eggs, although I recommend giving it a try.
Assembling and Serving. Place the ramen noodles, vegetables, and protein in the bowl. Ladle the broth over everything. Garnish with the egg and sliced scallions. Serve with a large soup spoon and chopsticks to help eat the noodles. Not only will it be hearty and satisfying, but it is also fun to eat!
Ramen Noodle Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for tofu
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (or less to taste)
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or less to taste)
¼ cup sake (Japanese rice wine) or dry white wine
¼ cup soy sauce
10 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 Tbsp. red miso paste
extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cubed
8 oz. ramen noodles
½ lb. baby bok choy, washed and thinly sliced
½ lime, juiced
8 eggs (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook onion, carrot, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, stirring occasionally, till softened 4-6 minutes. Add sake and stir to deglaze pan, 30 seconds.
Add soy sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a boil. Remove ¼ cup of the broth into a measuring cup and whisk in the miso paste until dissolved. Add back to the soup pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook ramen noodles according to package directions, discarding the flavor packet, just until tender. Rinse and drain noodles. Brown the cubed tofu in a frying pan with a little olive oil till crisp. Bring a pot of water to a boil and simmer eggs for 6 minutes. Transfer to cold water to stop cooking and peel eggs.
Add bok choy to simmering soup for 5-10 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Place noodles into bowls, and ladle broth into each bowl with some bok choy and tofu. Top with a halved egg.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.