I never know what to eat for lunch. A sandwich feels like too much, a salad not quite enough. Soup is just right but unless I’ve made a pot of homemade, I’m out of luck because I want something fast, easy AND fresh. I’m here to tell you that I’ve found the perfect solution to my lunch dilemma — ramen noodle soup with lots of fresh veggies. And the best part of all – it “cooks” in a mason jar. This is seriously fast food that you can make on the spot as long as you have access to boiling water. Such an easy concept but sadly I can’t take credit for it. I found the idea in the Pantry Suppers section of the new, River Cottage Veg cookbook. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just love vegetables, glance through this book and you’ll want to make every single dish.
Go down the soup aisle in a grocery store and you’re likely to find many packaged versions. Cup o’ Noodles can be very tempting but wouldn’t it be much better to replace the processed “food” with the real thing – fresh vegetables and flavorings? And who wants to put another styrofoam bowl in the garbage ? Fresh noodles could bring it to a whole other level but if you want this to be readily available, you can buy “cakes” of organic brown rice ramen noodles at Whole Foods. River Cottage Veg suggests flat, thin quick-cooking egg noodles so that’s also an option. I’ve experimented with using half a cake and more vegetables but if you like your soup very noodly, use a whole cake, breaking it in two to fit more easily in the jar. I used a wide-mouth quart size canning jar to cook my soup in. A lid is essential and the jar must be heatproof or it could break when filled with boiling water.
DIY Vegetarian Cup 0f Noodles
Ingredients: 1 cake of quick-cooking noodles such as brown rice ramen noodles/ 1/4 cube of vegetarian bouillon, I like the Rapunzel brand, vegan with sea salt/ 1 small carrot, grated/ 1 green onion thinly sliced/ thinly sliced greens – I used savoy cabbage and spinach/ 1/2 t freshly grated ginger/ 1/2 garlic clove, grated/1 t soy sauce/ Juice of one small lime/ 1/4 t sriracha sauce (optional)/ Chopped fresh chives for garnish, if you have some.
Directions: Put all ingredients, except soy sauce and lime juice in a wide-mouth heatproof jar, layering it so that the ingredients that need more cooking (the noodles) are at the bottom of the jar/ Pour boiling water in just to cover ingredients. Press everything down to make sure it’s covered/ Cover with lid and let it “cook” for about 10 minutes or until the noodles are tender/ Remove lid, add soy sauce and lime juice, stir, then eat it immediately right out of the jar or pour into a bowl. Why not make it the night before and stick it in the microwave? First of all, I don’t own a microwave and secondly, the noodles will continue to absorb liquid and become mushy pretty quickly. Best to dig right in.
For a chicken noodle version, here are the ingredients I used but please use what ever you have on hand.
From my garden — small broccoli florets, sliced green onion, sliced fresh spinach plus some leftover roasted chicken, fresh ginger! (from Mair Taki at the University Farmers Market), fresh garlic and cilantro. I used about 1 cup very hot chicken broth and 1/4 cup boiling water for my broth and added about 1/4 t curry paste to the liquid before pouring it into the jar.
Next time, another vegetarian variation with mushrooms and miso.
Bring your mason jar with soup ingredients-ready-to-go for lunch to work and you just might start a new healthy and tasty trend.