My family has been on a BIG noodle soup kick this winter. Chicken noodle, vegetable noodle, and Asian noodle have all been on regular rotation and I am loving it! Why? Four reasons: 1) they are easy to make in 30 minutes, 2) they are cheap, 3) I can use whatever I have left in my fridge and it will turn out great, and 4) it is an easy way to get more vegetables in!
There are a couple of tricks to make these soups really great.
- A good stock is not essential, but makes a great foundation
- Using a variety of vegetables will make them tastier (each bite is different!)
- Taking the time to sauté a base of vegetables will add sweetness and depth of flavor
- Herbs and other flavor enhancers are a great addition
- Cook the noodles separately
So here are the basic directions for how to make a noodle soup with lots of variation suggestions. Play around with it! Make it your own! I’d love to hear what combinations you come up with!
- ½ large onion or 1 small onion (variation: 2 leeks or 3 shallots)
- 3-4 medium carrots
- 2 tablespoons fat (butter, extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil if doing an Asian-style soup)
- 8 cups stock (chicken, vegetable, or beef)
- 2 or so cups of additional vegetables (celery, peas, corn, asparagus, spinach, kale, shredded cabbage, broccoli florets, edamame, etc.)
- 1 cup added protein—optional (cooked chicken, salami, ham, tofu, chickpeas, etc.)
- 1-2 cups dried pasta (noodles, spaghetti, letters, Asian, etc.)
- Flavor enhancers (salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, za’atar, parmesan rind, crushed red pepper flakes, soy sauce, ground ginger, sesame oil, etc.)
- Grated parmesan—optional
- Chop onion, carrots, and celery (if using). Start a well-salted medium pot of water to boil. In a second large pot, heat the fat over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery (if using) and sauté until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and bring to a simmer (note: if you are using a parmesan rind, throw the whole thing in now and then fish it out at the end). Chop any other ingredients that need to be chopped. Add any other vegetables that might need to cook for a little bit (broccoli florets, cabbage, etc.). When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to directions. Add the protein (if using) and the flavor enhancers. Continue to simmer. Just before the pasta is done, add any other vegetables that only need a few minutes to cook to the soup (peas, carrots, asparagus, edamame, spinach, kale, etc.). Strain the pasta, return it to its pot, and mix in some olive oil or sesame oil so it won’t stick together. Taste the soup and add whatever extra flavorings it might need. Serve the soup into bowls and then add pasta. Top with grated parmesan, if you like.