It’s kind of cool and rainy today in the OC (don’t call it the OC, it’ll make you sound lame. I sounded lame, didn’t I?). Southern California is usually sunny and 70. Today, chilly and rainy.
I love it. I will take cold and rainy over hot and swassy (sweaty-a**) any day. I felt soup was acceptable today.
I have been going through my pantry trying to dig out all of the stuff in the back that never seems to be used. There’s stuff in there that keeps getting moved around, but never actually eaten.
I found some udon noodles on, what I like to call, the “Pasta Shelf.” Yup, my family eats pasta often enough that I have actually designated a whole shelf just to pasta. In all fairness, a can of tomatoes or a box of chicken stock will usually make its way over, but it’s frowned upon. The pasta shelf is for pasta. I found these udon noodles and had to think pretty hard about when I bought them. I’m pretty sure it was in the 1912-1913 timeframe. Honestly, I have no idea how long they’ve been in there. My husband and I have lived in this house for, 4 years I think? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I bought the noodles before that….
The point is, they’ve been in the pantry for a while, it was time to just use them.
I didn’t really have many Asian inspired ingredients on hand though. I had some kale, which I’m pretty sure is a European thing, Greece maybe? I had yellow onions, I guess kind of Asiany-ish. Leftover chicken sausage…French? I don’t know. Soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and hot chili oil, those are typically used in Asian cuisine. Oh and the noodles. Those say Japanese on the package! Perfect, I’ll make soup! Japanese noodle style!
I found a half an onion in the fridge. Chopped that up and threw it into the preheated pot with some oil. Added some black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I held off on the salt since I knew I was going to add the soy sauce and fish sauce which are very salty on their own.
I let that cook and minced up about 3 cloves of garlic. Threw that in as well. I let that go for a few minutes while I dealt with the kale. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want those tough stems. You could easily cut the leaves off of the stem, or do what I do. Hold the stalk in one hand, with your other hand slide up the stalk and the leaves will come right off and the stem will be in tact. It works for me at least.
I gave those a nice rough chop and threw them in the pot. I made chicken sausage for dinner last night and had a few links left over. If yours are not cooked, throw them into a pan for a few minutes, or just cut them up and throw them into the soup raw, they’ll cook through. I diced up the links and threw those in the pot as well.
I gave that a nice stir and let it hang while I got out the liquids. I poured in about a quart (maybe a little less) of chicken stock (low sodium if you have it), as well as a couple of shakes of soy sauce, fish sauce and rice wine vinegar. I added about 1 teaspoon of hot chili oil as well. This is one of those ingredients where one drop too many and your mouth is on fire. Go easy. Start with less and move up if you want more. If you taste the broth and the balance is off, you can always add more chicken stock or water even, to mellow out any flavors you’re not loving.
I brought that to a boil then covered it, turned the heat down and let it simmer for about 25 minutes.
At this point I had to deal with the udon. The directions on the package said to drop the noodles into boiling water for 10 minutes. Pretty standard noodle directions.
That’s exactly what I did. I took the lid off, kicked it into high gear, got a nice boil going and dropped those puppies in. Not real puppies, the noodles.
That was it. I tasted it to make sure my flavors were spot on and paired it with a pretzel roll from Whole Foods and a Diet Ginger Ale. Very Asian.
Makes 4 servings(ish)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 – 5 stalks of kale, stems removed
3 – 4 chicken sausage links (or whatever sausage you have around)
4 – 8 oz Udon noodles
About 1 quart of chicken stock (or broth), enough to cover the mixture
Freshly cracked black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of hot chili oil, to taste
2 teaspoons fish sauce, to taste
2 teaspoons soy sauce, to taste
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, to taste
Heat a soup pot over medium/high heat. Add a few drizzles of olive oil.
Dice up your onion and throw that into the pot. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and some black pepper.
Mince your garlic and add that too.
Dice your sausage and chop the kale. Get those into the pot. Give it a stir. Get everything well coated.
Add enough to stock or stock/water to cover the mixture. Add a few shakes of soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and about a teaspoon of chili oil.
Kick the heat to high and let it come up to a boil. Once it gets to a nice rolling boil, bring it down to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for about 20 - 25 minutes.
Taste and re-season if necessary.
Bring the heat back up to a rolling boil. Add your noodles and cook for about 10 minutes (follow the cooking directions on the package).
That’s it. You’re ready to chow down.
It was really good. I liked it. I hope you do as well. If you have mushrooms, this would be a nice addition to the soup, as would carrots or snap peas even tofu. The point is this, whatever you have on hand will do. If you don’t have kale, use swiss chard, or spinach even collard greens. Don’t get too hung up on ingredients in recipes. Get a general idea of what’s going on, then adjust if necessary. Cooking is about having fun. If it’s a chore, you’re doing something wrong.
Enjoy your time in the kitchen. Go make this soup. I used chop sticks and a spoon to eat it. I made a mess.