Udon Noodle Soup with Crisp Vegetables

Here is a Japanese-style soup inspired by one I sampled in a New York City noodle shop. Thick noodles in a hot broth are topped with crisp raw vegetables. It’s an unusual but simple presentation, which you can start making literally minutes before you wish to serve it. The traditional way to eat this is to “slurp” the noodles with the help of chopsticks, then finish off the remaining soup with a spoon. “I believe I once considerably scandalized her by declaring that clear soup was a more important factor in life than a clear conscience.” —Saki

Serves: 4

  • 4 cups water
  • 3- to 4-inch piece kombu (sea vegetable), optional
  • 4 to 5 ounces udon noodles, broken in half
  • 2 cups strong vegetable stock, or 1
    15-ounce can vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon tamari, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper,
    sliced into very thin rings
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup loosely packed watercress
    (if unavailable, substitute shredded dark green lettuce)
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced

Combine the water, kombu, vegetable stock, and tamari in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the udon and simmer rapidly simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until al dente. Add tamari to taste and add a few grindings of pepper.

Divide the broth and noodles among 4 serving bowls. Top each with some bell pepper, carrot, watercress, and scallion. Serve at once.


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