Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sunday Supper: Curry Noodle Soup

This post is part of the 7 S series: Soup, Salad, Sandwich, Snack, Street food for Sunday Supper. These are light(er) meals for Sunday night; a tasty way to end indulgent weekends and get ready for a new week. A way to use the vegetable goodness brought home on Saturday mornings. A chance to try something a new recipe, a new ingredient or a new cuisine every weekend.

As you can see, I can't seem to stay away from my Sunday posting routine, and especially that of a series. So here it is, a new series with a simple and fairly open-ended premise: trying out new one-dish meals. Given that I am now a whole lot busier than I was during the A-Z series earlier this year, I expect that this one is going to be low-maintenance.

The first in the series is a soup from a wonderful new cookbook given to me as a graduation gift by my darling friend Laureen. She has that special knack of giving the most thoughtful and special gifts every single time. The cookbook is called Super Natural Cooking, written by a food blogger- Heidi Swanson of 101 cookbooks and Mighty Foods. In a world where it seems like a new cookbook is launched every minute or so, this is a very special body of work. While it has beautiful splashy pictures, it is completely unlike the usual glossy tomes- there is something very earthy about the colors and the paper that appeals to me. The central theme of this book is that it talks about "five ways to incorporate whole and natural ingredients into your cooking". It suggests specific and do-able ways to build a natural foods pantry, explore a wide variety of grains, cook by color (it is well-known that the darker the vegetable, the higher the level of certain micro-nutrients like anti-oxidants), know your superfoods and use natural sweeteners. Essentially, the books encourages the average home cook to look beyond the food in the supermarket and not be afraid to explore ingredients that may be nutritionally far superior. The Indian kitchen is already home to wonderful ingredients such as jaggery, millet, coconut oil and atta- the arrival of books such as these, touting these very foods, makes it more likely that they will be widely available in the US in the near future. This book is also encouraging me to look beyond ingredients that are familiar to me, and I hope to cook with quinoa, amaranth flour and miso in the coming months. Best of all, the recipes in the book are all vegetarian.

Today, I am making a simple and satisfying noodle soup from Super Natural Cooking. The new ingredient that I discovered via this recipe is udon noodles, a flat, beautifully geometrical wheat noodle that comes from Japanese cuisine and is cooked in a hundred different ways. I found a packet at Whole Foods.
udon1

I am slowly starting to discover, learn and love many cuisines from around the world, but Japanese cuisine remains mysterious and a little intimidating. While Japanese ingredients are being used in this recipe, the soup overall is an Asian hodge-podge, with the Japanese noodles and shoyu (a Japanese soy sauce), fragrant Thai curry paste and a complex blend of flavors- sweet, sour, spicy and salty. The soup does not call for vegetables, but I added some fresh green beans to make this a complete meal.

Curry Noodle Soup

(Adapted from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson, serves 2-3)
udon2

Ingredients:
4 oz udon noodles
2 T peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 t Thai red curry paste
1 C green beans, cut into bite size pieces
1 C tofu cubes
3/4 C coconut milk
2 C water
1 t turmeric powder
2 T shoyu/ soy sauce
1 T sugar
1 T lemon juice
Garnish:
handful of roasted chopped peanuts
slices of scallions/ spring onions
minced cilantro
Method:
1. Boil a large pot of water and cook the udon noodles until barely tender (they will get cooked further in the hot soup). Drain them and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and saute onion and garlic until fragrant and starting to brown. Add the red curry paste and stir until aromatic.
3. Stir in green beans and cook until tender.
4. Add tofu, coconut milk, water, turmeric, soy sauce and sugar. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes.
5. Turn off the heat. Add lemon juice and cooked udon noodles.
6. Serve hot, garnished with peanuts, scallions and/or cilantro.

Heidi calls this a "slurp and slop bowl" which describes this noodle soup just perfectly! This steaming bowl is definitely a delicious soup for any season, but with its spicy kick and delicious addictive taste, it could also be called street food...I imagine that such soups are sold by street vendors in many parts of South-East Asia. Next time, I will try cooking the noodles directly in the soup instead of cooking them in another pot. The soup is "soupy" enough that I think this might work. It will save the time and fuel needed to boil a large pot of water, plus the noodles might absorb even more flavor. I loved the silky yet toothsome taste of the udon noodles and look forward to using them in some traditional Japanese ways. Anyone have a favorite recipe with udon noodles?

This big bowl of soup is my entry to the Second Annual Super Soup Challenge over at the blog Running with Tweezers.

26 comments:

  1. I love soups and if the soup is with any kind of noodles i just eat and eat.
    Your soup is really looking yummy.
    Give it to me any time of the day i'll have them. Except early morning :-))))

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  2. This looks lovely and slurpy. I am always on the lookout for these slightly lighter ideas for meals...I also love the one bowl meal, which can be consumed in a comfortable chair, next to a reading light. This one hits the spot.

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  3. That must've tasted really good! I've never tried udon noodles - looks like I should do so soon! It somehow gives me more confidence to try stuff if I see a fellow- blogger & that too, one I look up to, do it first! :) Looking forward to your QUinoa & miso recipes (whenever you get to try them) :)

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  4. hey nupur, it had been a long time since i have lefta comment on your blog. Apart from the soup which looks very appetizing, I must say that you have an amazing writing style..keep it up!!!
    Raakhee

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  5. loved those nuts on top! very filling and delicious sounding.

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  6. Noodle soups are great when one is tired.....great way to relax with a bowl of comfort :). And that bowl looks just perfect for any dinner! I HAVE to try your recipe next time i make noodle soup!

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  7. What a comforting, heartwarming bowl of soup that is! Perfect for Sunday Supper.

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  8. Love noodle soup in chicken broth so much....but your version with thai curry paste is awesome, will try this sometime...Hey Nupur, I tried your Kanchipuram Idlis this weekend for BF and it they are deliciously divine

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  9. You can definitely cook the noodles directly in the soup; either add a bit more water, which will be absorbed by the noodles, or pre-soak the noodles in lukewarm water for a few minutes before cooking. I have this cookbook too, and love it.

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  10. I love finding new ingredients to play with. Japanese cuisine is definitely my favorite cuisine.

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  11. thats a lovely soup noodle. its been a while since i had it...

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  12. yay, a new series! I love the theme too, since "one-dish" is my preference for any meal :) Another recipe with coconut milk and Thai curry paste... I just know this one tastes good!

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  13. Perfect for welcoming the Fall....
    Nutritious...Filling and Warm......
    Ideal for hosting Epicurions...
    Just one suggestion... Spring Onions could be used as oyher option instead of Green Beans
    -------By:Swapna

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  14. I will try and get the recipe of udon noodles from our fave Oriental restaurant in Gurgaon. I've had stuff there several times, but forgot what goes into it. The theme of the place is one bowl meals... and using mostly steamed veggies and very little oil and spice. Yummy...your bowl reminded me of just that.

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  15. Happy Cook, well, you might be surprised: noodle soups are the #1 breakfast in many parts of South East Asia :)

    Lindy, you are so right- this meal just hit the spot...it was absolutely delicious!

    Vani, I so agree...most of my "experiments" stem from learning from other bloggers! Udon noodles are delicious, and worth a try :)

    Raakhee, how nice to see you here! Hope you are doing great :)

    Sharmi, the nuts added so many flavor and crunch to the soup!

    Musical, this recipe is put together in minutes, so it definitely is a must-try!

    Laavanya, yes, it was exactly that :)

    Padma, very glad to know that you enjoyed Kanchipuram idlis!

    Lydia, thanks so much for the pre-soaking tip! With noodles cooking directly in the soup, this dish will be even easier and hassle-free to make.

    Gini, I am just begining to learn a little about Japanese cuisine. Not a big sushi fan :)

    Roopa, thanks :)

    Cathy, yes, it does look like I am obsessed with Thai curry paste and coconut milk, right? :D But it tastes so good...I can't help it!

    Swapna, spring onions have been used as a garnish here. Green beans added to the soup add a lot of vegetable goodness to it. Other vegetables could certainly be substituted.

    Raaga, ooh, that place sounds good. I'm definitely looking forward to trying more udon recipes.

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  16. lovely bowl.. and nice recipe too!

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  17. What a coincidence! I have a packet of udon noodles lying on my kitchen counter for the last 4 weeks. I stare at them but am too intimidated to cook them. I haven't been able to put them away either! So maybe your soup came along at the right time!!

    I found these noodles very satisfying, apart from being delicious, when a friend ordered them for me at a local Japanese restaurant.

    You must try quinoa - it's great as upma or in a simple spinach salad.

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  18. This new series is an excellent idea, Nupur.

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  19. I really like udon noodles. That soup looks tasty.

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  20. I love soups and this soup sounds really nice :-) I will have to check where i can get udon noodles.

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  21. slurp...slurp...yup this should be fun to eat.. :)

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  22. Nupur this soup looks so mouthwatering....i dont have words for it...i am definitely going to try it out this weekend. thanks for the lovely recipe

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  23. Hi Nupur, your soup looks fabulous -- thai curry paste with the tofu and udon noodles! It's been a long while since I got out a Japanese cookbook -- I should make time for that. Udon noodles are wonderful for winter -- I like to boil them and toss them while still hot with soy sauce, a little rice vinegar, and tsp of cold butter. The tossing action makes a rich and decadent sauce with the starch from the hot noodles acting as a binder -- might not work for light Sunday supper, but it's yummy :)

    I'll be watching this space for next Sunday's post :)

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  24. Nags, thanks, the bowl is just a plain white one :)

    Manisha, oh, they are too easy to cook...do try them! "Satisfying" is the best way to describe them for sure. I'm definitely going to get some quinoa soon :)

    Cynthia, thanks :)

    Kevin, glad you like it!

    Anu, a similar noodle soup could be made with just about any noodles that are available.

    Priya, it sure was!

    Priyanka, let me know if you like it :)

    Linda, ooohh...you noodle recipe sounds fabulous! Will keep that in mind for a cold winter night :)

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  25. Another Lovely theme.. now taht my blogging is entirely a weekend task, I know places i must visit.. soup looks lovely .. and healthy too..

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  26. This shows I have not been blog-hopping regularly. How did I miss this? You are a genius Nupur!

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