I wasn't expecting to be sharing this recipe with you in mid-summer, but let's face it – the weather hasn't been recognisably June-like at all. That said, I'll eat soup even when the sun is blazing so I'm probably not the best barometer of soup weather. If you subscribe to the thinking that chilli cools you down on a hot day, then you'll be eating this dish on the hottest day of the year as well as the coldest!
We've already shown you how versatile buckwheat can be in gluten free dishes like salads and gnocchi and here's another use for the grain. Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat (it's also known as kasha in Eastern Europe, just to add to the confusion) and the wonderful Japanese make noodles from the flour. Before I move on to the recipe, it's worth noting that most soba noodles also contain wheat flour so you have to read the label, but you do that anyway, right? There are a couple of brands of 100% buckwheat noodles out there, King Soba and Clearspring make good ones that you'll find in big supermarkets, health food shops and delicatessens.
Asparagus is still very much in season, (thanks, mental weather!) and I'm still finding bunches of locally grown shoots at my greengrocer's so I couldn't help but add it to my soup. If you can't get asparagus, try replacing it with broccoli, mange tout, sugar snap peas or green beans. Likewise, if you're not a mushroom fan (it's a vegetable with the texture of meat, I get it, it's weird), leave them out or if you have scallions or shallots instead of red onions, then swap them about. If you've got leftover roast chicken of pork you can add some of that, too.
Soba Noodle Soup (serves 1)
- a bunch of soba noodles, about 80g
- 250ml water or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp white miso paste (white miso is sweeter and creamier than other types of miso, it's also usually gluten free)
- 25g asparagus tips
- 10g dried mushrooms, soaked for 20-30 minutes in hot water
- ¼ red onion, sliced
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 5cm square of nori (the kind you wrap sushi in), torn into strips
- chilli oil, as much as you like
- Make the noodles according to the packet instructions then drain and rinse with cold water. You can do this a few hours in advance, just toss the noodles in a little oil to stop them sticking together.
- Heat the water or stock (plus a little bit of the mushroom soaking water for a stronger flavour) in a saucepan until it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the miso until it dissolves.
- Add the asparagus, rehydrated mushrooms and onion to the broth and let simmer for about three minutes, until just tender. Or, if you don't mind the extra washing up, chargrill the veggies on a griddle pan for a few minutes.
- Stir in the soba noodles just before serving to warm them through.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds, nori strips and chilli oil over the top, then slurp with abandon!