Sometimes nothing but noodles will do. It's chilly, I'm hungry, and all I want is to slurp carbs from a bowl. Maybe it's spaghetti with a simple marinara sauce. Maybe it's ramen, where the noodles come first and the broth (and everything else) after.
Or perhaps it's something in between. That's the appeal of a dish from "Veganomicon," whose 10th anniversary edition is just out. Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero call it "The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook," and it really is, with instructions for tempeh bacon, chickpea cutlets, nondairy milks and plenty more. Over the past decade, I've made plenty of dishes from the book, some of them involved and others simple, and one of the simplest combines udon noodles, shiitake mushrooms and kale in a miso-enriched broth.
It's comfort of the highest order, but it's not quite a soup; there's just enough broth to give you something to sip after you've dispatched the noodles. The authors suggest adding seitan for extra heartiness, but that's not my jam. Chickpeas, on the other hand? Yes, please. They, along with the other vegetables, give me a little something to chew between slurps.
Udon With Shiitakes and Kale in Miso Broth
Yield: 6 servings
8 ounces dried udon noodles 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 medium red onion, halved and then thinly sliced into half moons 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 tablespoons finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger root 3 cups water 2 tablespoons mirin 3 tablespoons red miso 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, or more as needed 4 cups lightly packed chopped kale (from one 8-ounce bunch, stemmed) One 15-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Bring a pot of water to boil over medium-high heat. Add the udon noodles and cook according to the package directions, 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse under cool water.
Meanwhile, heat a large, deep saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil, and once it shimmers add the onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and the onion has softened yet still has a little crunch, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for another minute, until they are tender.
Add the water, mirin, miso and soy sauce, and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat so the liquid is barely bubbling. Stir in the kale and chickpeas. Use tongs to toss the mixture until the kale has wilted and the chickpeas are warmed through, 2 minutes. Add the cooked udon, tossing and stirring the noodles in the broth for another minute or two. Taste and add soy sauce, as needed.
Serve it hot: Divide the udon and vegetables among serving bowls, and spoon some broth over each serving.
Note: If you use a mild miso (yellow or white), you may want to add another tablespoon to get the same oomph in the broth.
Nutrition information per serving: 310 calories, 12 g protein, 51 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 880 mg sodium, 9 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar.
Source: Adapted from "Veganomicon, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook," by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero