Friday, May 15, 2015

Chinese Noodle & Bok Choy Soup

The hiatus from my former career life started with a mix of anger, grief, confusion and self pity. Then there was the Benadryl-haze I caused myself from taking it for insomnia. Slowly the fog lifted and I stopped analyzing myself to death. I let go and let God. I hugged my husband and my dog. I counted my blessings. 

I'd like to remain a woman of mystery (but that rarely happens). So I'll tell you that there's happiness after a midlife crisis. The one I had involved quitting my administrative assistant job to work as a case manager for vulnerable immigrants and victims of human trafficking. Then I lost that position due to lack of enrollees. I cried. I worried. I asked my stylist to color my hair Elizabeth Taylor-black and cut it short. The new hairdo, surprisingly, worked. I needed a change (more like a major overhaul). I went to the mall and stocked up on MAC red lipstick like I was prepping for doomsday. I bought too many sea salt chocolate bars. My lipstick and chocolate addiction worsens with stress. With nothing on the job horizon, I declared I was to become a professional dog walker. After all, I love dogs and walking. I even contacted dog walking agencies. My methodical, scientist husband, gently suggested that I slow down (stop acting crazy), enjoy some cozy dinners, pray more and revisit my embroidery designer dream. It was my "Eat, Pray, Love" moment.   

I spend my days designing, cooking and walking. Meandering the river path near my apartment clears my head and keeps me feeling free. I needed this creative break. I eat dinner with my husband now that I'm not working every night. I pick up counselor shifts at a crisis center. I volunteer. I sew. I bake. I make soup.  Maybe one day I will return to the case management workforce, but for now I'm at peace with my pots, pans and pins. 

So let's talk about this easy Chinese noodle soup....

Big slurpy bowls of Asian noodles are pure comfort to me. My husband feels the same about sandwiches. Everyone has their favorites. When I was a young case manager in Philadelphia, I looked forward to solitary lunches of steaming bowls of Vietnamese pho. When I worked the late shift, it was dinner in Chinatown with my mobile van partner. He always ordered Peking duck with a side of Chinese broccoli. It was a huge bowl of noodle soup brimming with bright greens for me. My first trip to San Francisco had me heading straight to Chinatown for wonton noodle soup. Nirvana! There's nothing better than Asian noodles.  

Asian noodle soups are not complicated to make at home. There's no need for fancy techniques or ingredients. Here, lo mein noodles mingle with tender-crisp bok choy. It's a healthy, light and fresh soup with perky ginger and warm sesame oil. If you can't find lo mein noodles, then use soba, ramen or rice noodles. Everything is cooked in one pot with minimal effort. A bit of chopping and dropping is all that's needed. The soup is ready in about 30 minutes. You can enrich the soup with some tofu or thinly sliced chicken too. I enjoy it with a seeded and very thinly sliced red fresno chili pepper. The chili offers a bit of heat which I love.  

Chinese Noodle & Bok Choy Soup Recipe

Makes A Large Pot: Serves 4-5

Some Notes & Tips

Remember to add the bok choy at the end of cooking so it stays bright green and lively.   

If you know me, you know I love Rapunzel No Salt Vegan Vegetable Bouillon! It's my go-to veggie bouillon when I don't have the time or energy to make my own broth or stock. It's the best! It makes this soup taste homemade. I find it at Whole Foods or buy it online at Amazon. It's a lifesaver for quick soups like this one. But you can swap it and the water for 10 cups of your favorite broth or stock.

Keep the cooked noodles separate from the broth. Add them to the soup when you serve it so they don't get mushy and soak up all the broth. 

I use a microplane zester to mince the garlic and ginger directly into the soup pot. 

If you love big brothy bowls of noodles check out my delicious, quick & easy pho and my easy soba noodle soup with mushrooms and snow peas or view all of my Asian noodle recipes in the Recipe Index


  • 1 pound of fresh lo mein noodles  (You can also use or soba, rice or ramen noodles)
  • 6 cups of chopped bok choy
  • 1 bunch of scallions, diced (about 5-6). Reserve the dark green part for serving.  
  • A 10-ounce package of button mushrooms (about 8-10 mushrooms), sliced thinly. You can also use stemmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms.  
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lime or lemon  
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 8 vegetable bouillon cubes. I use Rapunzel No Salt Vegan Vegetable Bouillon. 
  • 10 cups of water 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Asian sesame oil plus more for drizzling 
  • Soy sauce to taste   
  • Salt to taste 

To Serve: Sriracha sauce, thinly sliced red chili


Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Fresh lo mein noodles may not have any instructions. I typically boil them for about 5-6 minutes, keeping them al dente. Try not to overcook. You may want to toss them with a little oil after cooking to prevent sticking. Set aside. 

The pot in which you cooked the noodles can be used to make the soup. Add 8 cups of water to the pot along with the garlic, white and light green parts of the scallions, ginger and the bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil and stir in some soy sauce and salt to taste. Lower the heat, add the mushrooms. Simmer, covered, for about five minutes. Then add the bok choy and simmer for an additional 30 seconds to minute. Turn off the heat. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil and a few squeezes of lime or lemon juice. Put the noodles into large soup bowls. Ladel the hot soup over them. Serve with some of the reserved scallions, a few tiny drops of sesame oil and any of the suggestions. I love to slurp these noodles with a very thinly sliced red chili pepper.      

Bon Appetit! 

xx ~Jilly

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