Sorting through my old bookmarks has certainly sparked a few new ideas. After I spotted a recipe for a delicate suimono (Japanese clear soup), I knew I had to give it a try. Who can resist those adorable carved flowers? And with a few carrots left in the fridge (and not much else), the timing couldn’t be better.
As usual, I was missing most of the ingredients, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me. While not the least bit authentic, I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty and filling it turned out to be (with plenty to spare). And it was a breeze to put together. The most involved part was making the carrot flowers, and even that was actually way more simple and fun than I ever imagined.
Unfortunately, while the broth turned out delightfully flavorful, the noodles and tofu stayed bland and muted the taste. I’d like to try making this again some time with soba or rice noodles. In the meantime, a few more splashes of tamari made a world of difference. It’s also worth noting that unlike most soups, it is better fresh than the next day, as the noodles and greens become soggy and less appealing over time. The leftovers still made for a great lunch today, and likely tomorrow as well! But the proportions of this recipe could easily be scaled back.
Ginger Noodle Soup with Carrot Flowers
4 oz. spaghetti (1/2 package) – or soba or rice noodles if you have them
1 large, squat carrot
2 tablespoons neutral oil (I used peanut)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
2 medium joi choi or other Asian greens
Several generous splashes tamari, to taste
Dash of rice vinegar
8-10 cups water
1 package firm tofu
Cook noodles in a large pot of water. Meanwhile, chop greens and prepare the carrot flowers. First, peel carrot and chop off ends, leaving as an even a cylinder as possible. (Yey for snacks while cooking!) Make 5 shallow “v-shaped” cuts along the length of the carrot, then cut into slices. Reserve a cup of the boiling pasta water before draining noodles and place the carrot flowers into the water with an optional dash of rice vinegar.
In the bottom of a large pot (I used the same one, giving it a couple minutes to dry after draining the pasta), heat oil and sauté garlic and ginger for a minute or two over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Add greens just until wilted, then add tamari, a dash of rice vinegar, and tofu and cook a couple minutes more. Add water, and bring to a simmer, then add noodles and cook an additional 1-3 minutes. Ladle into bowls, garnish with carrot flowers, and enjoy!