Vegetarian Ramen

This has been our favourite soup for the past year and has been on medium to high rotation on our dinner table. It is tangy and luscious and utterly packed with umami.It. Is. Absolutely. Incredible. It may not be authentic or traditional, but in a world of continuous adaptation and improvisation, what really is. It’s what we like and what makes us happy that counts, and in this current situation of impending doom, that is truly what we need right now.

I’ve adapted the original Bon Appétit recipe to better suit the contents of my fridge and possibly yours, too. All toppings are optional, but I’d suggest you definitely add something green and something protein-y to make this more of a meal.

Recipe adapted from here.

Vegetarian ramen

Serves 4

5cm ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

3 spring onions, finely sliced – reserve about ¼ for garnish, preferably the green bits

1-2 Tbsp oil of your choice – I like to use the oil from the chilli garlic crisp if I have it on hand

2 slightly heaped Tbsp tomato paste

1 slightly heaped Tbsp light miso paste

1 litre vegetable stock, plus 250-500ml water to thin out at the end 

8 dried (whole) shiitake mushrooms

2-3 Tbsp soy sauce or to taste

50g butter, cut into rough pieces – the butter is essential, so don’t skimp on it

250g dried ramen or other long noodles (I’ve even used fettuccini here – I don’t know about you but I am too lazy to head into town just to get the right type of noodle) 

To serve (optional)

4 jammy to hard cooked eggs

200g kale or other leafy green, torn to pieces

250g tofu, cubed

The reserved spring onions

1 Tbsp toasted sesame

Chilli and garlic crisp

Add the ginger and ¾ of the spring onions and the oil to a large pot and fry over high heat for a few minutes, stirring often, until they begin to take on a bit of colour. Add the tomato paste and stir for another minute. It will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan and darken slightly. Add the miso and give it another stir before adding the litre of veggie stock and the whole shiitake mushrooms. Cover and bring to a boil, letting it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened enough to be easily pierced with a sharp knife. Remove from the heat and give it a good blend with a handheld blender. It is at this point where you might want to add a bit of extra water – I like it to be the consistency of thin cream, but you might feel a little different. Just keep adding 100ml at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Add the soy sauce to taste, and finally, with the blender on, add the butter bit by bit until it is completely emulsified. Give it another taste to check for seasoning, find someone in your vicinity to lock eyes with and whisper “Oh my god”, followed by a passionate “Mmmmmhmmmmh!!”, and keep it warm, covered, while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Cook the eggs to your liking. Peel and halve. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Add the kale to a pot with a little salted water and cover. Let it steam for a few minutes until just soft. Add the tofu to the pot and set to the side, covered – this will ensure it will be nice and warm when you serve it. 

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and divide the noodles, eggs, kale and tofu among them. Top with the spring onion and a sprinkling of sesame and serve with the chilli and garlic crisp on the side.