After a few months of carb loading during the holidays, it’s nice to move on to lighter fare during the deep winter months. Light soup, stews, and winter veggies such as kale and squash is a nice theme to the season. And this balsamic veggie soba noodle soup fits this to a T.
This is a soup we’ve been making for a few months now, every time a little different. While the recipe below calls for vegetable stock, which is what we tend to always have on hand (we save all our vegetable scraps in the freezer – those onion skins and celery ends, the kale stems, etc – and once in a while pull them all out, boil for a few hours, strain, and bottle the liquids), we’ve also used homemade beef stock – when you have leftover beef bones or, when you actually buy soup bones for this purpose, it’s just as easy as vegetable stock, but for a longer amount of time.
We usually cover the bones with water, simmering for about six hours throughout the day, adding water as it reduces. The result is rich, fragrant, smells-like-heaven broth that is even better when it’s got leftover brisket sauce mixed in with it, let’s just say for example).
Here are the constants: vegetables, sautéed in oil; stock and water to create the brothy soup; sugar and balsamic to sweeten the flavor; cooked soba noodles; and lots of fresh additions to place on top (I’m partial to the mung bean sprouts on top, personally, but any sprouts would work).
The idea is to create a super flavorful, sweet, spicy, rich broth with cooked vegetables and noodles, and then add in fresh, uncooked vegetables to brighten things up. It’s a little like pho, which I’m told gets pronounced like “fa,” a Vietnamese noodle soup I first tried at Nashville’s Far East cafe.
Like chicken noodle soup, it’s one of those dishes that, no matter how weird you’ve been feeling, physically or emotionally, whether you’ve had a stomach ache or a mind that won’t quit, will probably make you feel like things will be okay.
All I know is we made this batch a few days ago, and when Tim and I slurped big bowls of it for lunch, I looked at him across from me, in his gray crewneck sweatshirt and brown eyes that crinkle when he smiles, with his unflinching enjoyment of baking more loaves of bread, and I thought, you know, this is fun.
By this, I guess I meant eating the soup and living with him but, also, knowing that in all the twists and turns of life, in all my late-night panics and wishes for perfection, there are still soups to make and eat for lunch, moments to stop and slurp at the table, little bits of life so sweet and good and beautiful, you can’t help but notice, even when you’d swear you can’t.
A lot of this recipe’s components are optional, as you’ll see noted below this soup is highly adaptable.
Examples: We’ve also used grape tomatoes in the cooked vegetable medley. We’ve used white and red onions interchangeably. We’ve added varying amounts of sugar and sriracha, to suit our tastes at the time or to counteract a more bitter or bland batch of broth. Just keep in mind that you control the soup, and you can doctor it to your preferences. Sweeter? More sugar. Hotter? More sriracha.
PLEASE BE CAREFUL with the sriracha, though: The second time we made this soup, an accidental two full teaspoons of sriracha went in, which was a great travesty because the soup tasted SO GOOD but simultaneously made me cry like a baby, and so then we had to throw the whole thing out.Print
A delicate soup made with sautéed veggies, a bone broth base, a touch of sugar and balsamic vinegar to add a hint of sweetness, soba noodles, and mung beans and/or chopped onions layered on top for healthy, low calorie, and tasty meal.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 cups (250 g) chopped red onion (from about 1 [312 g] red onion) (or white or yellow, perhaps)
- 1 cup (125 g) chopped carrots (from 4 [203 g] carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins)
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 cup (30 ml) balsamic vinegar (we like the short, squatty bottle from Trader Joe’s)
- 1/4 cup (40 g) sugar (ideally coconut sugar or Sucanat), plus more to taste
- 4 cups (950 ml) unsalted vegetable stock (or beef stock)
- 2 cups (570 ml) water
- 1–2 tablespoons gelatin (optional)
- 1 tablespoon organic soy sauce (optional)
- a squirt or two sriracha (optional, but great heat-adder, just do it to taste! start small!)
- 8 ounces (220 g) organic soba noodles
- mung bean sprouts
- chopped green onions
- fresh herbs, as desired
- In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt a tablespoon of coconut oil. Once oil is hot, add chopped onion, chopped carrots, salt, and pepper. Stir mixture together, letting everything get coated with oil, and let cook for about 10 minutes. At this point, add balsamic vinegar and sugar, stir everything together again, and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add stock and water, along with gelatin if using. Let everything cook until vegetables are fully softened, about 15 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a separate stockpot, bring enough water to a boil to be able to cook the soba noodles. Add a dash of salt, if you like. Once water boils, add noodles, cook for 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and place in a bowl.
- Use a ladle to serve soup – in each bowl, soup of the vegetable mixture, some of the noodles, and then your choice of toppings (suggestions above).
One last thing! You’ll note we added gelatin to the stock, which we sometimes do when we’re using vegetable broth as a soup base. Should you have extra grass-fed gelatin laying around from your recent tea gelatin, let’s just say, then here’s another way to use it!
This can be made gluten-free if you choose 100% buckwheat soba noodles and gluten-free soy sauce (many varieties contain wheat products).
Keywords: balsamic, vegetable, noodle, soup, soba
What about you? How do you like your soba noodles? Let us know in the comments below and please give this recipe a rating if you tried it and loved it like we did!
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Photos by Shanna Mallon, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 22nd, 2014. Last updated: January 14, 2019 at 1:08 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.