Quick Asian peanut soup

This soup is one of my favourite work-at-home lunches but it would be easy to prepare anywhere with access to a microwave. I invented this to overcome my hankering for those quick ramen noodle packages, which are comforting but have no nutritional value that I’m aware of.

It gets a couple servings of vegetables past our lips in an appetizing way. It’s quick and easy enough to assemble without thinking, in case you’re distracted. Chopping your vegetables is the only prep required besides assembly and stirring. We can get the required vegetables locally or at least Canadian-grown throughout the difficult winter months. One cabbage in the back of the fridge supplies enough leaves for several months. You can be creative and throw in whatever’s available.

It’s comforting on a cold winter day, but light enough for summer, too. Sometimes when I’m lazy we have it for dinner. I usually cook it in the microwave, though it only takes a few minutes on the stove.

Ingredients:

  • 3-minute chow mein noodles or other quick noodles
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 savoy or other green cabbage leaf
  • a handful of bean sprouts
  • 1 green onion
  • beef, chicken or vegetable stock
  • flavouring sauces such as soy, hoisin, fish, tobasco and sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped peanuts
  • lime juice (optional)

Start with a pat of 3-minute chow mein noodles. I crunch them up in the bottom of a big soup bowl. Fresh rice noodles or any other noodle could work, but if they need to be boiled for a few minutes, prepare them first.

To the dry chow mein noodles, add a grated carrot, a chopped savoy or other green cabbage leaf, sprouts, and a chopped green onion or some leek. Then add flavourings of choice: maybe soy or hoisin sauce, dark sesame oil, fish sauce (omit if you don’t believe in eating animals) and a dash of tobasco. Cover with stock of your choice.

Bring the whole thing to a simmer for a couple minutes, just enough to soften the noodles to your liking. Top with 2 tbsp. chopped peanuts or other protein food. Some lime juice is nice, but this is practically the only fresh ingredient I won’t have on hand without planning ahead. You could also throw on some chopped fresh cilantro, if you believe in eating cilantro.


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