All over the world, people turn to steaming hot bowls of noodle soup to find warmth, comfort and nourishment. If ever there were a time when we need comfort — a pandemic, raging fires out West, an unsettling, contentious election — it is now.
As the weather shifts from the extreme heat of summer to the cooler days of autumn, our cooking and cravings shift with the weather. Noodle soups are a great solution.
Think of thai red curry noodle soup, Japanese ramen, Vietnamese pho, Jewish chicken noodle soup, Italian tortellini in brodo, Greek avgolemono with orzo, Chinese won ton noodle soup, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, Italian minestrone with pasta. The list goes on.
Like all soups, the better your stock, the better the soup. You can make your own chicken or vegetable stock (see recipes below) or rely on your favorite brand. None of these soups are time-consuming and almost all of them can be made ahead of time and reheated while the noodles cook at the last minute. Toss a salad and you’ve got a warming, comforting bowl of noodle soup for dinner.
This soup borrows flavors from several classic Thai soups. Red curry paste, ginger, cilantro and coconut milk form the flavor base of this broth. It’s served with udon noodles, fresh spinach and snow peas. The soup is topped with a variety of colorful garnishes — grated carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro and scallions.
This main course soup serves two generously (or four smaller bowls) and can easily be doubled or tripled. The soup can be made with chicken or vegetable stock, which would make it a vegetarian dish. If you’re making your own chicken stock, be sure to keep the cooked chicken to add to the soup.
Although there are quite a few ingredients in this soup, it is not difficult or time-consuming to make. This recipe is an adaptation of one in my book, “Soup Swap.”
Serves 2 very generous portions or 4 small bowls.
*You can use any leftover coconut milk in smoothies, curries, sauces, etc.
This is a hybrid of two of my favorite Italian soups: tortellini in brodo (Italian for broth or stock) and stracciatella. This soup combines store-bought or homemade chicken or vegetable broth with tortellini (I used store-bought pasta but if you’re feeling ambitious, feel free to make your own), fresh spinach and grated Parmesan cheese. It takes about 15 minutes to put together and makes a great lunch, first course or light dinner.
“Jewish penicillin” was what we always called this rich chicken soup with egg noodles and vegetables growing up in New York. It’s what we turned to whenever we had a cold or the flu or just needed something to lift our spirits.
This soup can be made with boxed stock and pre-roasted chicken and it will be delicious, but if you make your own stock and use the chicken meat you used to make the stock with, you will have an exceptional soup.
Noodles Like To Drink
You’ll notice that in almost all cases noodles are cooked separately from the soup. The reason is simple: When pasta cooks it soaks up the liquid it’s being cooked in. If you cook the pasta in your soup you will end up with a thick, stew-like mess. All the gorgeous stock will have been “drunk” by your pasta.
Unless otherwise indicated, always cook pasta in a separate pot of boiling salted water. And always slightly undercook the pasta by about 2 to 3 minutes since it will continue to cook when it’s added to the hot soup. The times given in these recipes account for the extra time the noodles will cook in the soup.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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