Our Food Editor Shares His Go-To Formula for Nourishing Noodle Soup
Make Greg's Shanghai Noodle Soup for dinner tonight!
Find out what's been happening with our food editors in Out of the Kitchen, our biweekly series.
What does a food editor make for dinner? It's a question our team is often asked, and this week we're savoring one of deputy food editor Greg Lofts go-to meals. Like so many of us, Greg loves brothy noodle soups in the winter and has been making his take on Shanghai Noodle Soup all through the cold months for several years. He's kindly sharing his recipe with us (though he says it's a formula more than a strict recipe).
It all starts with a big pot—actually, a lobster pot. That's what Greg uses to make large quantities of chicken stock. If you have good stock on hand (always keep some in the freezer), then this satisfying meal comes together quickly. Greg shops in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, at one of New York City's Chinatowns, for the ingredients for his soup. In fact shopping in Chinatown is what first inspired him to make this soup. He was tempted by the fresh Shanghai noodles he saw, and they are what he uses in the soup. The chewy wheat noodles are more widely available dried, and either the fresh or dried variety works well in this soup. You could also substitute the more traditional noodles with fresh or dried ramen, fettuccine, or spaghetti. "Or a rice vermicelli or glass noodle if you want to avoid gluten," he says.
And cook the noodles separately; don't cook them directly in the soup. "If you do that, you're releasing all of this starch into your soup and it can go to an unpleasant texture and turn opaque," Greg explains.
Beyond the noodles and chicken broth, the vegetables and any meat you choose to use is up to you. In his basic recipe, Greg calls for scallions but says substituting another allium is fine. The calabaza or pumpkin his recipe calls for could easily be swapped be sweet potatoes. There must be greens, but Greg says they could be baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli, or regular broccoli. He's less flexible about the mushrooms, though: "I particularly like shiitakes because have a lively texture, they feel meaty. Even if you don't add any meat to the soup, having shiitakes and chicken broth will make it seem meaty." Adding a poached egg or a fried egg is another option, either instead of or in addition to chicken or pork.
Simply put, the possibilities are endless when it comes to making noodle soup. "Think about the flavors and textures as you compose your soup," Greg advises. Whatever you do, just be sure to finish it with a touch of acidity before serving: A squeeze of fresh lime (or lemon if that's what you have) is perfect. "I like to also add fish sauce and a little soy sauce; it adds umami and sweetness."
"It's a build-your-own-adventure soup," Greg concludes. Embrace the flexibility and give it a try soon.