Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Noodle Soup with Salmon and Udon

It seems that the New Year often starts with a cold. We've been traveling and celebrating, and somewhere between the late nights and airplane germs, it catches up. I wisely decided to get my illness out of the way earlier in December, but many of those around me are snuffling through this first week of January. Which means soup.

I've already simmered and delivered a big pot of matzo ball soup this week, so I decided to try something a little different. We had a package of deliciously thick and chewy udon noodles in the fridge, after I stopped by an Asian market on the way home from the DMV (In related news, who steals people's registration stickers off their license plates?). There was some leftover baked salmon from a delicious Sunday Roast (more on that soon), and a few lonely scallions in the planter box outside. I briefly flirted with cooking up a proper Japanese dashi broth (there may be some kelp and bonito flakes knocking around the cupboard somewhere), but decided instead to go with a simple sunny vegetable broth, bolstered with a bit of garlic and ginger for some seasoning and magical healing properties. Add in a handful of fresh spinach, and it's perfect.

Although I am still a fan of the long-simmered soup, this clean, simple, and near-instant option is nice to have in the arsenal. I aim to share some with a recovering friend, and slurp up the rest to fend off whatever else is going around (as well as fortify me against tomorrow's terrifying forecast of "ice pellets"). Here's hoping 2013 is a healthy and delicious one for all of us.

Noodle Soup with Salmon and Udon

serves 4

This is a fairly basic brothy template, easily adapted to whatever you may have on hand. I almost feel silly writing it up.

6 cups vegetable broth
1 inch ginger, scrubbed or peeled and cut into coins
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 pound udon noodles (these can be found in the refrigerated section of Asian markets)
several handfuls fresh spinach, washed and trimmed of tough stems
1 cup cooked and flaked salmon
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 handful cilantro leaves
sesame oil and/or hot sauce, to garnish

Place the broth, ginger, and garlic in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer ~20 minutes, to cook the garlic and infuse the broth with the ginger.

While the broth simmers, heat a large pot of water, and cook the udon noodles according to package directions (or, if your package has no directions, until done). Dump into a colander, and rinse to keep them from clumping.

Ladle out a tangle of noodles into each bowl, and top with a handful of spinach and salmon. Pour some of the hot broth and garlic (but not the inedible ginger) over the top, heating and wilting everything deliciously. Garnish with scallion and cilantro, and top with a few drops sesame oil and/or hot sauce, if desired. Slurp.


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