Despite my southern upbringing (with a dash of east coast flare), true comfort food to me isn’t the traditional heavy American fare most of us have come to know and love. Maybe it’s the result of my world-wide travels and love of all cultures and people, but nothing beats Asian cuisine for me when it comes to terms of comfort. Give me a big bowl of noodle soup, a book, and a rainy day, and I shall give you the definition of bliss. And if you throw some baby animals in the mix to cuddle, I’ll probably die of happiness.
One of my personal loves in learning about other cultures and people. It’s what motivated me to be a globe trotter, and I count my travels as my richest investment. Both my husband and I have a particular respect for Asian culture, which is incredibly diverse and varied from across the Asian continent. It’s as much an unfortunate mistake to lump all the cultures together as it is to group all Asian cuisine in the same category. The history of each nation is not only documented in historical tomes, but sealed in the authenticity of recipes. Food, like art and music, reflects a society like a mirror. (It’s a sobering thought when I consider the Standard American Diet and our problems with obesity and health. We can do this, America! We can get healthy!) The spices, flavors and textures are as richly complex and unique and the people.
My husband speaks Japanese fluently, and we particularly enjoy the food and unique lifestyle of Japan. We have trips planned to Thailand and Japan after the New Year, both of which we’re so excited about. We’ll be in Japan for the cherry blossom festival, which I am psychotically thrilled to experience. I go a little cray-cray for cherry blossom season here in DC. Spring doesn’t count in DC in my book till the cherry blossoms bloom and tourists flood the streets and eff up all brunch reservations across the District. Taking in the flowers and festivities is an incredible affair not to be missed (minus the tourist! Unless it’s you, and then you can mess up as many reservations as you want to and stand in the goddamn street taking pictures like you’re a stunned little deer in headlights, heedless of traffic. I won’t judge.)
One of my favorite fast, simple Japanese soups is a scrumptious gluten free ramen that’s bursting with flavor. While I make a vegetarian version that fits my lifestyle, it’s just as easy to add some protein of choice by quickly sautéing up some meat with a dash of the same spices used in the broth. This soup is so quick and easy, that it makes for a perfect dash and go lunch or hassle free dinner.
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 5-7 minutes
- 375 g gluten free ramen
- 2 cups of water to boil noodles
- 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup of baby spinach or kale
- 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice (make your own here)
- Dash of chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root
- 4 TBS roasted sweet corn off cob
- 1/2 cup diced green spring onions, divided
- 1/4 cup chili peppers for heat or sweet red peppers to blend with Chinese 5 spice
- 1 cup of shiitake pre-soaked mushrooms
- 4 TBS soy sauce
- 1 tsp dry coconut nectar
- 2 TBS garlic cloves
- Optional: top with soft boiled egg or add meat of choice. You can also sprinkle with sesame seeds for flavor and texture.
→ TIP: Making your own vegetable or chicken stock is actually a very easy, inexpensive option. For vegetable stock, toss aromatics + herbs in a large pot or crock pot with water and simmer low and slow. For chicken or beef stock , use bones from a left over meal, add aromatic herbs, and simmer. For meat stocks, periodically skim fats off broth. Remove ingredients, strain with cheese cloth. You can freeze broth in large ice cube trays and use later, so make a large batch.
- Prep all veggies and ingredients.
- Bring water to boil, add ramen to water and cook for about 5 minutes. Strain, then divide into 4 bowls.
- In saucepan, add chicken stock and combine spices, sauces, and crushed garlic. Add half of the spring onions, sprinkle the other half among the 4 bowls.
- Bring broth to boil then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add corn, spring onions, baby spinach and mushrooms to the four bowls of noodles. Pour broth over noodles, top with red chili peppers and serve hot.
Fast and fabulous, this soup is my kind of comfort food! Play around with the vegetables and meat you use. Chinese 5 spice is a delicious, slightly sweet tasting mix, so it enhances spicy flavors and balances bitter ingredients well. I would recommend adding smaller amounts and tasting as you go to ensure the spice doesn’t take over the broth entirely. And that’s it! Side note: have you found Naturally Fit Living on Instagram or Twitter? You can follow my yoga account and/or my Foodie account. I love connecting to other people dedicated to health and fitness! End of side note 🙂 Hope you enjoy this simple recipe! Much love and lots of spice 🙂
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