Category: soup

Kitsune Soba

Kitsune Soba

This isn’t a traditional recipe. This is a quick and dirty (read: easy and yummy) version of a hot soup made with soba noodles topped with deep fried tofu. Putting fried tofu on top of soba noodle soup makes it kitsune soba. Kitsune means fox in Japanese, and folklore says fox spirits are quite fond of fried tofu, hence the name “fox soba.” It’s delicious.

I like recipes that are flexible. Once you have the broth, the noodles, and the tofu, you can add whatever else you want on top. I chose to go light and easy, a few fresh pea shoots and thinly sliced raw carrots. Then I topped everything off with Bull Dog Sauce.

I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to put Bull Dog Sauce on soba noodle soup. But I did, and it was good, and no one yelled at me, so I’m pretty sure you can do it too if you want. It’s sort of a like a Japanese steak sauce/bbq sauce. There are many different variations, but I used the Fruit and Vegetable Semi-Sweet version. You can find it at any reasonably stocked asian grocer, or you can get it online here.

So, here’s the thing about my version of kitsune soba. The flavor is anchored in the salty, sweet, gingery broth. The tofu and vegetables are there mostly for contrasts in color, texture, and temperature. Since everything is presented plain, the broth does most the heavy lifting in the flavor department, but it also allows the raw ingredients to shine on their own.

Soba and Broth

Kitsune Soba
Serves Two

Oil, for frying
1 Package Soba Noodles
1/2 Block Extra Firm Tofu, sliced thinly
1 Small Carrot, peeled and sliced paper thin
Greens (microgreens, scallions, cilantro, whatever!)
Bull Dog Sauce, optional
Optional ideas: Sliced radish, sweet pepper, snow peas, cucumber

2 Tbs to 1/4 Cup Low Sodium Tamari (to taste, I used the whole 1/4 Cup)
1 Cup Water
1 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1 Tbs Sugar
1/2 Vegan Bullion Cube
1 Inch Ginger Root, peeled and sliced thinly

Add all the broth ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and place a lid on the broth while preparing the rest of the meal. This allows all the gingery goodness to steep into the broth.

Place a pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron or non-stick pan with oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry the tofu slices for several minutes on both sides until golden brown and very very crispy. Drain on a paper towel.

Fried Tofu

Once the water is boiling, add noodles and cook to package directions or until noodles are tender. My noodles were done in only 4 minutes, but the package said 6-7 minutes, so check them early to avoid over cooking.

Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Place the noodles in bowls and pour the hot broth over them, straining out the ginger pieces. Top with the fried tofu, sliced, as well as your vegetables and greens. Garnish with Bull Dog Sauce, if using.

You can easily make every part of this ahead, so this is a nice option for company, and it looks fancy too!

Kitsune Soba

Delicata Squash Bisque

Delicata Squash Bisque

So you have all this beautiful, rich, and flavorful veggie broth now. Here’s a perfect fall recipe to use it in!

I don’t know about you, but squash has been piling up on my counter. It’s beautiful, sure, but it’s not there for decoration.  I was getting more and more squash every week in my veggie box, and I think it was starting to taunt me.  So what do you do to things that taunt you?  You turn them into bisque!

And actually, in all seriousness, this is the best squash soup I have ever made.  Ever.  And it’s all thanks to my homemade veggie broth.  I knew the broth was nice when I made it, but I had no idea how much it would actually improve the favor of the things I made with it.

I made this with my favorite squash, delicata squash.  Delicata is an heirloom squash that I first tried when I joined a CSA.  Since it’s an heirloom veggie, it’s grown for flavor and not for mass-shipping; the thin skin of this squash made it harder to transport thousands of miles from where it was grown. Consequently it has been largely ignored for the last 75 years or so.  It’s gaining popularity now, so you have a good chance of finding it at your local store or farmers market.

The thin skin is a great asset, in my opinion.  It makes it easy to prepare (you don’t need an axe and and a tree-stump to cut up this squash), and you can even leave the skin on and–get this–eat it after baking! But besides the skin, the flesh is golden, sweet, and smoothly-textured.  It’s perfect for just baking, or blending into a lovely silky bisque.

And man this is a lovely bisque.  This is rich, full-bodied, yet very, very simple.  So simple you won’t believe how such an easy soup can taste so wonderful.  I use a cashew cream (one of my favorite tricks) to give this soup a velvety rich texture and creamy flavor that won’t disappoint.  Start with a high-quality vegetable broth and this will be your favorite soup of the season.

(Oh, and feel free to try this with other kinds of squash, but if you’ve never had delicata and you can find it, this is a great recipe to try it out!)

Delicata Squash Bisque
Serves 4 large bowls, 6-8 Cups

3 Pounds Delicata Squash, (2 pounds after prepping)
Oil for roasting
4 Cups Rich Vegetable Broth
1 tsp Thyme
Lots of Black Pepper
1 1/2 tsp Salt, more or less to taste

Cashew Cream
1 Cup Raw, Unsalted Cashews
1 Cup Rich Vegetable Broth, divided

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Peel squash and chop off the ends.  Halve the squash and scrape out the seeds.  Place on a baking sheet cut-side down and brush lightly with oil.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender and beginning to brown.  Flip squash before the baking is finished if needed to prevent burning.

Delicata Squash

Meanwhile, add the cashews to your blender and 1/2 cup of veggie broth. Begin pulsing to incorporate, eventually turning the blender all the way on while slowly adding the other 1/2 cup of broth. Once all the broth is added (1 cup total), let the blender run for 1-2 minutes until very, very smooth. Set cream aside.  If your blender can’t get the cream completely smooth, strain before adding it to the soup.

Remove squash from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer it into a large soup pot. Break up the squash into chunks with a spoon or your spatula and add 4 cups of veggie broth, thyme, and black pepper. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, covered.

Working in batches if needed, blend the soup until very smooth, being careful not to overfill your blender. My 64 oz blender fit the entire batch of soup.

Return the blended soup to the pot and add all but 1/4 cup of the cashew cream. Season with salt and more pepper. How much salt you add with depend on how salty your broth is to begin with. I thought 1 1/2 tsp salt was perfect for my batch, but yours might differ.

Remove soup to bowls (or mugs!) and garnish with extra cashew cream drizzled on the top and some fresh black pepper.  Little squigglies of cream look nice, but you can also draw hearts or stars or swirls, whatever!

Delicata Squash Bisque