Reminiscing Ramen

I have a new favorite soup.  This brings back crazy memories of Top Ramen dinner days—when that was about all there was left in the cupboard, because payday hadn’t arrived yet.  If we were really lucky maybe we would add a few sliced mushroom, frozen peas, green onion, or an egg. It was a meal; easy, hot and filling—salt and all.Ramen table

With images of PureWow’s inventive Ramen Soup dancing in my head, earlier in the day I had made a chicken stock from the carcass of a roasted chicken.  I headed out to my local grocery store in search of dried ramen noodles and drifted from the international section where they had bags of all sort of noodles, to the soup section, where I was confounded by the daunting range of instant ramen noodle soups.  I guess I haven’t been paying attention because now there are choices like curried noodle and kim chee ramen.

Completely befuddled, I decide to keep it simple and stay with what I knew: the original Chicken Top Ramen.  I could use the noodles from 2 packages of Maruchan Roast Chicken Ramen at .17 each; a far cry from $1.88 for a large package of noodles.  Crazy.

And the instructions haven’t changed much either: boil the water, add the noodles and let it stand for 3 minutes, then stir in the seasoning packet.  It doesn’t get any easier than that.  I am a great reader of nutrition labels, and on this day I opt to just let it go.  Forget about it, ignorance is bliss.  I have lofty plans ahead.

Although a simple vegetable stock was certainly a possibility, I was well ahead of the game with my homemade chicken stock chilling, well-skimmed of excess fat.

Ready for dinner, I heat up the soup pot and quickly sauté green onion, garlic, coriander, curry, fresh minced ginger and garlic in sesame oil.  A bit of Sriracha is squirted in to taste, then the lovely chicken stock.  For extra flavor I throw in ½ cup of soaked dry shiitake mushrooms, plus their strained liquid.  Within 15 minutes, this melange transforms my simple stock into something complex and intriguing.  Actually, these flavors are so powerful, I’m not sure I’d even mess with my precious homemade stock in the future.  Perhaps a quick vegetable broth would do the same trick, after all—still light years away from ramen’s requisite seasoning packet.

The noodles are added to the simmering stock and burble away for 5 minutes or so.  What fun – they visibly puff into a curly mass.  While this is happening, I assemble the toppings. I sauté red pepper strips in coconut oil and poach the eggs to perfection.  I pull out a bag of spinach and arugula salad and pick off any errant stems, and quickly chop some green onion and cilantro.  A bit of leftover roasted chicken is sliced into strips.

ramen finalFinally!  Noodles are piled into bowls along with big ladles full of the shockingly good soup broth.  The toppings are available and added to taste.  Ah, sweet memories!  Not exactly instant, but better than ever!

Easy Ramenramen closeup
Adapted from PureWow ‘s Easy Ramen 

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 large bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
½-inch piece ginger, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons Sriracha, or more to taste
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup dried Shiitake mushrooms rehydrated plus drained liquid (soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes)
12 ounces dried ramen noodles (I used noodles from 2 pkgs Top Ramen Noodles)
1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
1 pint cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups, if not using dried Shiitake)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
5 cups raw spinach and arugula, stemmed
4 eggs, poached (see How to Poach an Egg)
½ cup chopped cilantro


  1. In a large soup pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add half the scallions, the garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add the coriander, curry powder and Sriracha, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add the chicken stock or vegetable broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer covered, for 15 minutes, or until the broth develops good flavor.
  3. Remove the cover from the pot, add the noodles and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. If the noodles begin to absorb too much of the broth, add water to keep the noodles fully submerged.
  4. In a large sauté pan, heat the vegetable or coconut oil over medium heat. Add the fresh mushrooms and bell peppers, and sauté until very tender, 6 to 7 minutes.
  5. To serve, ladle the soup into four bowls and garnish each portion with 2 tablespoons mushrooms, 2 tablespoons peppers, ¼ cup spinach, 3 tablespoons scallions and 1 poached egg. Serves 4.

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