Delicious, unexpected

We needed something fast and light before going to the movies. I had no expectations whatsoever of the noodle soup I threw together, but it was so wonderful I´m recording it here for future reference.

The important thing is to not overcook the broccoli - it has to be slightly crisp so that its vibrant taste really livens up the soup. Cooking mushrooms this way is genius: without adding fat you transform them from spongy pillows to little nuggets of powerful mushroom flavor. Use a cast iron or other heavy pan for this, not a non-stick frying pan - that won´t be able to stand up to the heat you need.

All that said, the savoury bits of fried tempeh were really the star of the dish. Marinated in sambal, soy sauce and rice wine, they give this light soup just the meaty bite that makes this a satisfying dinner.

Too bad the movie was sold out when we got there!

Broccoli noodle soup with spicy tempeh croutons
serves 3

1 liter light chicken stock
200 gram tempeh, cut into small cubes
for the tempeh marinade: 1 tablespoon sambal, 1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
450 gram broccoli, washed and cut into florets
250 gram chestnut mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 shallot, thinly sliced
fishsauce, shaoxing ricewine, soy sauce
100 gram noodles of your choice
a handful of coriander, chopped, and sriracha, to serve

Mix the tempeh marinade ingredients together in a bowl and add the tempeh. Mix well so all the pieces are evenly coated. Leave to stand for a bit (ideally, a couple of hours).

Bring the stock to a boil and when it boils, cook the noodles according to packet instructions until just done. Lift the noodles from the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon and transfer them to a colander, rinse them so they won´t stick together.

Heat a large heavy frying pan over medium high heat and when it´s hot, add the mushrooms. Cook them over medium high to high heat for a couple of minutes: they will start to squeak, a really funny sound to hear coming from a pan of mushrooms - quite disconcerting actually, as if you´re frying something that´s still alive! After 5 minutes or so they will start releasing their liquid. Keep cooking them till they´re almost shrivelled and nicely browned.

Add them to the pot of chicken stock together with the broccoli, shallot, a splash each of fishsauce, soy sauce and shiaoxing rice wine. Bring to the boil and cook until the broccoli is just al dente. In the mean time, add the tempeh cubes, including their marinade, to the frying pan (no need to clean it) and fry the tempeh over medium high heat until it´s browned and crispy (taking care not to burn it).

Broccoli and tempeh should be done at just about the same time. Add the noodles to the pot of soup and warm them through. Divide soup, noodles and vegetables among 3 bowls and top with the tempeh. Garnish with coriander and sriracha. Happy slurping!

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