Thursday Dinner: Miso Chicken Soba Noodle Soup

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I feel like I’ve missed out by never having been to a noodle bar or restaurant in a larger city. I’ve had the opportunity, but can never seem to convince anyone else to go with me. So, from time to time, I pick up a package of soba or udon at the store and cobble something together at home. But, I know it’s not the same.I know it isn’t because I probably wouldn’t buy fish or oyster sauce without having tried it before. And, since I haven’t, well… I think it’s probably how people approach Italian food. They get scared off by weird cheeses or working with squid. But, not unlike my fear of fish sauce, they miss out on something good.

Anyhow, I was looking for something different to do with soba and Aida Mollenkamp’s recipe fit the bill. Mollenkamp, who has appeared on the Food Network and authored her own books, has a very easy to use, aesthetically beautiful website loaded with attainable recipes, including this one.

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WHAT WORKED: The mix of greens. I don’t think I ever used bok choy before, and I really liked it. The addition of leeks brought a nice flavor.

WHAT DIDN’T: Me, again. I thought I had yellow miso. I didn’t. The red miso in my fridge worked fine.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: I don’t remember, but she really liked it.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yes, if only because this recipe yielded a ton of food. I froze a full quart.

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Miso Chicken Soba Noodle Soup
By Aida Mollenkamp

8 oz. dried soba noodles
2 tbsp. canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil
3 medium leeks light green parts halved and thinly sliced
5 oz. shitake mushrooms stemmed and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
8 scallions white and light green parts thinly sliced
8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 lbs. bone-in chicken breast or thigh pieces (JP: I used boneless thighs here.)
1/2 cup light yellow miso
1 tbsp. peeled ginger, grated
8 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
12 oz. baby bok choy (about 3) sliced into 1-inch thick pieces, ends discarded

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the soba noodles and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.

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Meanwhile, heat oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the leeks, season with salt and cook until translucent. Add the mushrooms and the white pieces of green onions and cook until begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth and water and bring to a boil.

Add the chicken and cook until cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove to a plate until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, whisk in miso, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce into the broth and keep at a low simmer. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the miso is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes.

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Remove the skin from the chicken, shred the chicken meat into bite-sized pieces, and discard the bones. Add the shredded chicken to the broth along with the bok choy and cook until the bok choy is just tender and the leaves are wilted, about 3 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning as desired, and stir in the dark green parts of the green onions.

Using tongs, divide the soba noodles evenly among warmed bowls and then ladle in the soup. Serve immediately.

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