When it rains, all I crave is a big bowl of something warm and spicy. And noodles. Must have noodles.
And lots of them.
I will take the slightest drizzle as a clear sign that it is time for me to eat ramen. And guys. Look at those gloomy skies. The time is now.
Easily adaptable to suit vegetarians, gluten-frees, vegans, meat-eaters, and picky-eaters alike. This deliciously inauthentic ramen comes together in under 40 minutes. MINUTES, you guys. Not hours.
So prepare yourself to indulge all those it’s-the-freakin-weekend // cozy night-in // “can I just live in these sweatpants forever?” vibes. Let’s get comfortable, friends. Cue up that Netflix series you have been itching for an excuse to binge on. We are going to have ourselves some rainy day ramen and we won’t have to leave the house to get our hands on it.
You could chock it up to my Asian heritage, or maybe it’s just the fact that soups are a universal comfort food. But as soon as those clouds start to creep in, I start dreaming of something hot with a kick of something spicy.
And there’s so many choices from so many places around the globe to satiate that “I’m not sick but I want some soup anyways” feeling. Classic chicken noodle, Greek Avgolemeno, Filipino Arroz Caldo and Sinigang, Thai Tom Kha Gai, Japanese Udon, Vietnamese Pho, and my hands-down fave – Ramen.
The restaurant where we usually get our ramen-fix is just a few streets over from our place. However, this little Bay Area gem is far from being a well-kept secret. It’s the undisputed neighborhood favorite. It’s totally common for there to be a line down the block before they’ve even opened their doors. Even on a weekday. You gotta get there early and you gotta be patient. And people (myself included) are more than willing to wait in line because…
Hot Broth + Noodles + ALL the Toppings = 1 Happy Belly.
It is one of the few times I can be found NOT talking. Like, at all. Not a word until the noodles are gone and all the broth has been tipped back from the bowl. Just a lot of sounds muffled through mouthfuls of food that say “this right here is delicious”.
A date night that includes ramen is a quiet one for us. A few minutes of uninterrupted silence as 2 gigantic bowlfuls of luscious broth disappear before our eyes. Sure, afterwards there are a lot of words. But they are all spent discussing the ramen experience we just had, reliving in excruciating detail how yummy every last bite was.
But I don’t always have the willpower or time available to wait in line for that godly, savory bowl of noodles. Sometimes I just want to stay inside, enjoying a day with no make-up, and eat from the comfort of my own couch.
This is one such recipe that lets me do just that.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty details. Beginning with a brief disclaimer.
If you didn’t already guess, this is not 100% (or even probably 50%) authentic Japanese-style ramen. It was not lovingly simmered and stewed for an entire day or even an hour. It is not made with from-scratch bone broth or ramen noodles that I made at home.
But this is not bad news. This means big flavor without the wait. Quick and easy eats without having to rely on that little silver spice packet that lives huddled up inside instant ramen. It’s a semi-homemade venture with lots of health-minded swaps.
This is a riff on what my mom referred to as “adult ramen” when we were kids. She would use store-bought noodles and broth and she would drop in fresh ingredients like veggies, chicken, or eggs to make it a full meal in a bowl.
Today we are also using store-bought noodles, miso paste, and chicken broth combined with other fresh ingredients. We are making something comforting that tip-toes on the side of healthy. Since we aren’t using a full-fat pork broth, this becomes a relatively low-fat dish. If you choose a lean protein source like chicken or tofu to add on top of it all, even better!
I used the ramen noodles I had on hand in my pantry, which were not made from the usual wheat flour but rather a gluten-free variety of brown rice and millet. I found them to be just as hearty with that great signature chewy ramen bite. They held up wonderfully in the hot broth like a regular wheat noodle.
That being said, if you wanted to load up a bowl of these with some spiralized zucchini/ carrot noodles, I’m sure it would still make for a super satisfying low-carb meal. Just sauté them separately and add them into the broth at the end.
At the heart of this recipe is a rich, flavorful miso soup broth infused with leeks, fresh garlic, ginger, and chili paste. I used red miso because I like it’s deep, strong flavor. But you can use white miso if you prefer a lighter, sweeter flavor profile.
I also used almond milk instead of soy milk for the broth. I don’t work with a lot of soy-based products, just as a matter of personal preference. But I always have almond milk in the fridge and it worked perfectly great to bring that subtle creaminess needed to balance out the salty ramen broth. You could swap almond milk for soy milk or cashew milk, whichever you like best.
The toppings are all customizable, as are many of the ingredients. The ones listed on the recipe card below are all just suggestions for ways to spruce it up and add whatever textures or flavors are your favorite.
- You can swap spinach for another green. If it’s kale, you might want to cook it down first, since it won’t wilt as easily as baby spinach.
- Swap shiitake mushrooms for button, crimini, or baby bellas
- Swap the noodles for zoodles // vermicelli or glass noodles // whole wheat ramen noodles // low-carb shirataki noodles // spaghetti squash
- To make it vegetarian // vegan friendly – swap chicken broth for vegetable broth, and don’t add meat. Add more vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, and carrots or some fried tofu to make it into a more filling and substantial meal
- If you don’t like things too spicy, you can leave the chili paste out entirely and just serve it on the side. You can always add in little by little straight into your bowl later.
- If you like your miso with a little more salty edge to it, then you can add more coconut aminos or soy sauce until it tastes just how you like it.
- You can do a soft-boiled egg if you like a little runny yolk action // a hard-boiled egg if that’s not your style // a fried egg if you want something quick // or no egg at all if you’re just all about those noodles
Currently taking any and all of your recommendations for your favorite toppings.
Partly just because I like to hear from you but also because F-O-M-O (Fear Of Missing Out) is a real thing that I have. Daily. So, please. Drop ALL your tasty knowledge on me.
- 6-oz shiitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1 ½ c chopped leeks (or about 2 medium sized leeks)*
- ½ tbs coconut oil
- 4 bundles/ servings of ramen noodles**
- 4 cups chicken broth***
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk****
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- ½ tbs grated ginger
- ½ c red miso paste
- ⅓ c coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
- 2 tsp garlic chili paste (or sriracha)
- 3 cups spinach
- sliced green onions
- soft-boiled / hard-boiled / fried eggs
- lime wedges
- bean sprouts
- fresh herbs
- red pepper flakes
- shredded cooked rotisserie chicken
- pork loin
- crispy tofu squares
- COOK THE NOODLES: Cook ramen noodles according to package directions. I would suggest putting a separate pot of water on to boil when you start cooking the veggies to save on time. Once cooked, drain noodles in a strainer and set aside.
- COOK THE VEGGIES: While you wait for the water to boil / the noodles to cook - Preheat a medium sized pot over medium-low heat. Add coconut oil, leeks, and a pinch of salt (to help them soften more quickly). Sauté for 7 minutes, or until they begin to soften and the white parts start to become translucent. Turn up to medium heat and add in mushrooms and another pinch of salt (to draw moisture out of the mushrooms). Sauté for another 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute. Add miso paste and sauté stirring often for another minute until the paste has softened.
- MAKE THE BROTH: Add broth, almond milk, aminos, chili paste, salt and pepper to pot. Stir to ensure miso paste has dissolved into the broth and cover. Bring to a boil and then turn down to very low heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- MAKE YOUR BOWL: Portion out the cooked noodles into a bowl. Place chosen add-ins into bowl (I like spinach, shredded rotisserie chicken or spicy shrimp, and green onions). Pour mushroom broth over top.
*can swap for chopped onion or shallots as needed
**can swap for whole-wheat ramen, rice-millet ramen, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or shirataki noodles to accommodate food allergies and low-carb dietary needs
***to make it vegetarian, use vegetable broth and add more aminos to taste
****can swap for soy milk or cashew milk
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