Zen Noodle Broth
Food plays a large role in the daily life of a Zen monastery. It is not merely about nutrients, but about energy to replenish and nurture the spirit. I try to think about this whenever I cook, putting as much positive energy into my cooking as possible. (Fortunately this is easy, as I love bashing pots and pans.) The idea for this Zen-style broth came about first because a friend lived on it while practising to be a Zen Buddhist monk (near Manchester!), and also because this soup is really simple to prepare and yet almost infinitely complex. A pleasant paradox.
Soba noodles are made primarily with buckwheat and are generally much better for the body and digestion than other noodles. They have a wonderfully full texture. In Britain, the best miso you can buy is, surprisingly, made in Wales. Sometimes I will add a splash of sake or mirin to the frying vegetables, which adds even more flavour to the stock.
Still the mind, feel the love, stir the soup. Enjoy the whole process (including washing up).
Gluten-free option: use 100% buckwheat noodles.
|3||carrots, halved lengthways and finely sliced into half-moons|
|2||onions, very finely chopped|
|3||large green cabbage leaves, finely shredded (kale/cavolo nero works well)|
|1||red chilli, finely diced|
|½ tbsp||cooking oil|
|3||strips of dried wakame (seaweed)|
|12||dried shiitake mushrooms|
|3-4 tbsp||brown miso|
|For the garnish:|
|3||spring onions, finely sliced at an angle|
You will need a wok.
Bring the water to the boil in a large pan, then reduce the heat and let it gently simmer while you fry the vegetables.
In a wok on a high heat, flash-fry the carrots, onions, cabbage and chilli in the oil for 3-4 minutes. Then add the vegetables to the simmering water. Add the wakame, shiitake mushrooms and miso (diluted in 4 tablespoons warm water) and simmer uncovered on a low heat for 15 minutes.
Place your noodles in a separate pan of boiling water and cook for 4 minutes (or see packet instructions). Drain, then refresh with cold water.
Taste the soup and add extra miso if more saltiness is needed. Add the cold noodles to the soup and warm through for a minute.
Serve straight away, topped with slices of spring onion.