We just came back from vacation! To a broken range. The digital face on the front of the stove gave out, which means that when I press “bake” and twist the temperature dial, the oven clicks on but the digital reading doesn’t light up. So, I’ve been playing spin-the-wheel-and-guess-the temperature. This worked pretty well for a few days, until I burned the granola I was trying to delicately toast, and scorched some roasted Brussels sprouts, and blackened some chocolate chip cookies. We gave in and called the repair man who we had to pay just so he could tell us they don’t make parts for our stove anymore because it was built in 1983.
The silver lining in all this is we’re getting a new range. In the meantime, I’m relegated to stovetop cooking.
Now, for those of you who, like me, subscribe to an unreasonable number of food periodicals, you may have also noticed that these periodicals often print startlingly similar recipes. Recipes for Asian noodle soups stared at me from the pages of no less than four different magazines. So, I took it as a sign (instead of a challenge that maybe I shouldn’t subscribe to so many food periodicals), and decided to post a recipe for Asian noodle soup.
I perused a few different recipes for ingredient ratios and stumbled upon one that included sweet potatoes. Initially, I thought “Ew, gross!” Then I was intrigued, and then figured I needed to add this starchy orange root to my soup, because if it sounds gross, and they had the guts to print it anyway, I must be missing out on something good.
Turns out, the sweet potato adds textural interest, and its natural sweetness acts like mirin’s less cloying and more interesting cousin. I added shiitake mushrooms for their silky texture and meaty flavor, bok choy for color and crunch, and some aromatics.
I basically pretended I was making chicken noodle soup, Asian-style.
The best part is, it came together quickly. The soup was cooked before the stovetop realized it was supposed to be semi-retired and stopped pushing out a blue flame. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to squeak out a few more dishes before this lame duck takes a permanent vacation.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 4 scallions (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and ½-inch diced
- 4 cups homemade or unsalted chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 bunch (3 to 4 oz) Buckwheat soba noodles
- 3 heads baby bok choy, quartered
- 8 oz cooked, shredded chicken (about 2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Add the garlic, ginger and scallions to the oil in a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Stir until fragrance is released, but before they start to brown, about 2 minutes.
- Add the sliced shiitakes and stir two minutes, until they start to brown and release their mushroom(y) aroma.
- Add the diced sweet potato and stir to combine the flavors. Add the chicken stock and water and scrape the bottom of the pot to release any brown bits. Cover, and bring the pot to medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for four minutes. Add the noodles and bok choy and simmer for another four minutes. Add the shredded chicken, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir to combine. Simmer for two minutes, or until the chicken is heated through and the flavors are combined. Serve.
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