This bowl is similar to a ramen noodle soup, but while ramen noodles are made from wheat, soba noodles are made with either 100% buckwheat or a combination of buckwheat and wheat.
While I love ramen noodle soup, I have a special love for buckwheat. Perhaps it’s because my mom made buckwheat pancakes for us when we were growing up. I love its unique nutty flavor. Buckwheat is also far superior nutrionally, so I decided to create this nourishing soba noodle soup. This meal-in-a-bowl takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish and is one of those foods that is just perfect on a chilly day or when you are feeling run down.
The broth is rich and savory, with plenty of umami from miso, tamari, shiitake mushrooms and kombu. Kombu is a sea vegetable that provides the base for Japanese dashi broth. It adds another layer of flavor to miso soup. The addition of kale and carrots provides nutrition as well as substance – making this soup a meal. It really is quite filling. The tofu adds clean plant protein and soaks up the flavor of the broth, while the bean sprouts add a bit of freshness.
In Japan, soba noodles are served on New Year’s Day for good luck and longevity. I may be a few days late on this post, but the science shows that eating soba noodles does indeed enhance longevity! So, start the year off right by enjoying a hot bowl of this heart-healthy soup.
- 10 cups (2 quarts plus 2 cups) filtered water
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
- 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded; caps sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 (4-inch piece) kombu
- 2 cups lacinato (dino) kale leaves, stripped from the stem and chopped into bite-sized ribbons
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 8 ounces soba noodles (udon noodles also work well)
- 8 ounces cubed extra firm tofu
- 2½ tablespoons yellow miso
- 2½ tablespoons lite tamari
- 1 tablespoons mirin
- Garnish: small handful of mung bean sprouts or sunflower sprouts and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil to the pot, then add mushrooms. Sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute. Add water and kombu, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Bring water back up to a boil. Add kale, soba noodles, shredded carrots, tofu and tamari. Cook, uncovered at a low boil for 4 minutes. Double check cooking time on packages of noodles. If cooking time of noodles is longer than 5 minutes, add noodles first, then add kale and carrots to avoid overcooking vegetables.
- Remove pot from heat, add miso and mirin and stir well. Remove and discard kombu.
- Ladle soup into large bowls and top with sprouts and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds.
Nutrition Facts: The consumption of buckwheat has been associated with lower total cholesterol, lower LDL cholesterol and a high ratio of HDL (health-promoting cholesterol) to total cholesterol.[i]
“Buckwheat’s beneficial effects are due in part to its rich supply of flavonoids, particularly rutin. Flavonoids are phytonutrients that protect against disease by extending the action of vitamin C and acting as antioxidants. These compounds help maintain blood flow, keep platelets from clotting excessively (platelets are compounds in blood that, when triggered, clump together, thus preventing excessive blood loss, and protect LDL from free radical oxidation into potentially harmful cholesterol oxides. All these actions help to protect against heart disease.
Buckwheat is also a good source of magnesium. This mineral relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure—the perfect combination for a healthy cardiovascular system.”[ii]
Recipe by Emily Honeycutt, 2016. © All Rights Reserved. www.emilyhoneycutt.com
[i] He J, Klag MJ, Whelton PK, et al. Oats and buckwheat intakes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in an ethnic minority of China. Am J Clin Nutr 1995 Feb;61(2):366-72. 1995.