• Akis

Noodle Soups

Wintertime is here and what better than enjoying some comfort and warm soups.

Having this in mind, I wanted to incorporate fresh pasta in such dishes. In this case though, someone should better use the word noodles rather than pasta, recognising the great Asian traditions of combining a variety of noodles with warm soups and broths. So, I looked to the East and decided to make two of the most typical Japanese noodles, namely Udon and Ramen.




However, my main aim on this cooking adventure was to come up with dishes that have Asian-style noodles incorporated into Mediterranean-inspired soups.


In this regard, I served the thick and wide udon noodles with a chickpea soup inspired by the Italian tradition of making pasta with chickpeas. An extra reason for that was a variety of Sicilian black chickpeas that I had at my disposal for a long time and this could be a chance to finally cook them. To realise the dish, I simply cooked the chickpeas and blended most of them (keeping only a few as whole) so as to create a thick soup where the noodles could dip into it.


As for the ramen noodles, I followed the Greek tradition, serving them with a chicken broth, including additionally the typical Greek avgolemono (egg and lemon) sauce.


Both dishes came out yummy, warming up both my body and soul!!.


 

Udon and chickpea soup



For two portions


Udon noodles

  • 200g white (all-purpose) flour

  • 90g water

  • 10gr salt


- Dissolve the salt into the water and then mix it with the flour inside a bowl. Stir and massage the dough with your hand until the flour is fully incorporated.

(The dough will feel hard. There is no need to knead it, just aim to end up with no dry flour left in the bowl)


- Cover the dough and let it rest for 1 hour.


- Press the dough with your hands to flatten it so as it fits to pass through the metal rolls of a pasta machine. Pass it through the machine using the widest opening between the rolls.


- Fold the dough in half and pass it again through the machine. Do this several times, until the pasta sheet is uniform and smooth.


- Keep the dough sheet as such or pass it through the machine once more using the next available thickness.

(Udon are thick noodles, therefore the dough sheet should remain relatively thick, not less than 3mm)


- Flour very well on both sides of the final dough sheet, fold it in half or even more, and cut stripes similar to the width of tagliatelle. Unfold the noodles, dust with extra flour so that they don’t stick to each other.

(Udon noodles can be cooked directly. Additionally, they can be placed in a plastic bag and stored in the fridge for a few days, or frozen for much longer periods)



Chickpea soup


  • 200g chickpeas (soaked overnight in water)

  • one big onion

  • a table spoon of tomato paste

  • a couple of bay leaves

  • a piece of dried sage

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • salt/pepper


- Drain the chickpeas and place them into a pot. Add fresh water until they are completely submerged. Bring to boil and simmer for ca. 30 min, until they taste al dente.

(The cooking time can differ between different types of chickpeas. Always taste to tell)


- Strain the chickpeas, keeping the cooking liquid.


- Chop finely the onion, place it into a pot with a good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and sauté until it softens.


- Add the tomato paste, stir to mix, and cook for another minute.


- Add the cooked chickpeas, enough from their cooking liquid so they stay submerged.


- Add the bay leaves plus the sage, season with salt/pepper, cover with a lid and let the mixture simmer for another half an hour.


- Taste that chickpeas are cooked and soft enough, remove the pot from the fire, keep aside some chickpeas to serve them as whole at the end, and blend the rest of the mixture into a thick soup consistency.

(Adjust consistency to your liking, using extra liquid if needed)



Finishing the dish


  • udon noodles

  • chickpea soup

  • a small piece of guanciale (or other type of pork cured meat)

  • a green (fresh) onion

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • any kind of vinegar

  • chili flakes


- Chop the guanciale into short stripes and place it into a cold pan. Increase heat to medium and let it release its fat while it becomes translucent. Cook it for ca. 5-7’ in total until it turns crispy outside but stays tender inside. Remove it from fire and keep it aside.


- Cook the udon in unsalted boiling water for ca. 10-15 min.

(Due to their thickness, fresh udon take a lot of time to cook. Always taste to check doneness)


- Strain the noodles and serve them on a soup plate. Add the blended chickpea soup.


- Garnish with the guanciale pieces, the whole chickpeas, and the finely chopped green onion.


- Season with vinegar and a few chili flakes. Drizzle some olive oil, and enjoy!



 


Ramen and chicken avgolemono



For two portions


Ramen noodles

  • 200g white (all-purpose) flour

  • 90g water

  • 2g salt

  • 3g baked baking soda *

* The alkaline character of baking soda is what gives ramen noodles their characteristic springiness and chewiness. Its alkaline character can be further enhanced after being heated. To do so, place an amount of baking soda onto an aluminum foil and bake it for an hour at 120°C.


- Dissolve the salt and the baking soda into the water, and then mix it with the flour inside a bowl. Stir and massage the dough with your hand until the flour is fully incorporated.


- The dough will feel similarly hard as the one above for udon. So, follow exactly the same process as for making udon with the only difference that at the end you can go down using narrower settings between the rolls so as to get less thick noodles.


- Pass the final dough sheet through the machine cutter used for cutting noodles. Alternatively, you can cut by hand wider noodles.


- Cook the noodles directly or store them similarly as mentioned above for udon.



Chicken broth

  • two chicken drumsticks*

  • a few hundred grams black kale**

  • salt/pepper

  • a couple of bay leaves

* Obviously you can use a whole chicken or any pieces that have bones plus meat

** You can use any other leafy green or vegetable that you like


- Place the chicken pieces into a pot with ca. 1.5 lt of water. Bring to boil and skim off with a spoon the foam that is released on the top. Add the bay leaves, cover the pot, and let it simmer for at least one hour.


- Take out the chicken pieces and let them cool down before you clean off the meat.


- Chop the kale, add it into the broth, and let it boil for 5 min. Strain it out and keep it aside.


- Season the broth with salt/pepper, and keep it hot for preparing the avgolemono sauce as well as for assembling the final dish.



Crispy chicken skin (optional)


- Cut off the skins of the chicken, and place them into a nonstick pan with the addition of a tiny amount of olive oil.


- Cook them (both sides) under medium heat for a few minutes until they get golden-brown.


- Place them onto a piece of kitchen paper to get rid of excess fat. The skins should be now nicely crispy. Keep aside for serving.



Avgolemono (egg and lemon) sauce *

  • one big whole egg

  • the juice of one lemon

  • ca. 400g of hot chicken broth

  • a pinch of salt

* You can read more about avgolemono sauce on a previous post


- Whisk into a bowl the egg, the lemon juice, and the pinch of salt.


- Start adding very slowly in the beginning the hot (not boiling) broth while you keep whisking constantly, so as you avoid cooking/solidifying the egg. After having added some, go more liberally until you finish adding the whole broth.


- Transfer the mixture into a pot and place it on medium fire. Keep mixing until the mixture starts to thicken. If you feel that curds are starting to form, just remove the pot from the fire.


- The sauce is ready when it thickens slightly. It‘s not going to reach creamy consistency, it will remain easily pourable.


- Remove from fire, and keep aside for serving.



Finishing the dish

  • ramen noodles

  • chicken broth

  • chicken meat cut into pieces

  • cooked pieces of black kale

  • crispy-cooked chicken skin

  • avgolemono sauce

  • a green (fresh) onion

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • chili flakes


- Cook the ramen noodles in boiling water for only a minute.


- Strain and serve them on a soup plate. Add the hot chicken broth, followed by the chicken meat and the kale pieces.


- Pour on top the avgolemono sauce. Garnish with some chili flakes, finely chopped green onion, and chicken skin. Drizzle some olive oil. Enjoy!!