The Frugal Girl has posted about this recipe several times and I knew early on that we would really enjoy the flavors of this soup as well. I also happened to have the cookbook which includes the recipe — The Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve made it a couple of times this spring/summer, but obviously haven’t gotten around to blogging about it! The photo is from the first time I made it; since then I’ve made several changes to the recipe, both in ingredients and how I prepare it. Since Kristen has posted the recipe on her blog, I am not going to add it here, but I will note the changes I’ve made or plan to make (I’m always assessing recipes for how we would better enjoy them).
- Less pork. The recipe calls for a pound and a half of boneless, country style pork ribs. This makes WAY too much meat for me; now that I’ve made it twice with the same results, I will cut back to just a pound.
- I’ve started using soba noodles instead of ramen noodles. I think they are more nutritious and they taste better, too. I cook them separately and add the noodles to each bowl, then cover with broth and meat. The soba noodles I buy come packaged in 3.5 oz bundles, so I just use two. I buy them at my local Asian grocery, but they do sell them in the ethnic aisle at the grocery store and definitely most natural food stores carry them too. Usually at these more mainstream stores they are packaged like spaghetti and you will have to eyeball the amount to use.
- I toss the noodles in a little sesame oil to keep them from sticking to each other. So later I add just a drop or two on each serving instead of the called for 3 tsp. to the whole pot.
- I don’t care for how slimy spinach gets after sitting in a soup for a long time, so I also add this to each bowl separately. Or if I am reheating enough soup on the stove, I’ll add it then. I just don’t want it to sit in the fridge getting slimier and slimier. Ugh.
- I use a pound of mushrooms and save about four oz. to add to the soup after the pork is cooked. The other 12 oz cook along with the pork and onions. I slice the mushrooms very thin using my mandolin.
- I also slice the onions rather than chop them — this way all of the major components of the soup have more or less the same shape.
- I cook this on the stove top — beyond slicing the onions and mushrooms, there isn’t a ton of prep required for this soup and most of the cooking is pretty passive, so since I work from home it’s an easy enough meal to fix toward the end of an afternoon.
- Since I make this on the stove, I sear the pork ribs in a little oil first and get them browned on all side. Remove from the pan and add the onions. Allow to cook until translucent and wilty, then I add the garlic and ginger. After about a minute (once those two aromatics have bloomed), I add the mushrooms and just very quickly saute them. I add some chicken broth to scrape up all the goodness from the bottom of the pot, then nestle the pork ribs back in among the veggies. Cover with the remaining broth and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. At this point the ribs are usually tender enough to easily shred (I remove them to a plate or cutting board to do this, although you could probably do it in the pot). Then finish with the soy sauce, mirin, etc.
- I don’t always remember to add in the miso. Ideally I heat up a portion of the broth/meat in a separate pan, add the miso and maybe the spinach and then serve over the noodles.
I feel like my nine steps make this recipe seem unwieldy, but it really is very easy and a great way to satisfy a craving for Asian food without resorting to take-out.
This year I am committing to trying out at least one new recipe every week, inspired by Frugal Girl. I am off track a bit in recording these recipes given my blogging break, but at some point I will make out a list that includes even those items that haven’t been blogged.
Also, I just borrowed Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark from the library and there are some wonderful looking recipes that I want to try, so I’m excited to get back to documenting this process.