In this week's The Willowbee Tree story, “Big Plans and Real Weather”, the Willowbees are deeply disappointed when they learn the Spring Festival has been postponed due to heavy rain. How frustrating it is when the weather doesn't cooperate!
Their spirits are lifted a bit, however, when the Willow Tree offers to take them to a new land. They go to the northern plains of the United States, where they learn from several bison and prairie dogs how to accept and honor the weather—whether you like it or not.
Rain in the spring can be the worst! I try to think of it as a blessing. I try to think of little seeds luxuriating in the moisture and using it to grow. I try to think of our beautiful, wild river swelling between its banks. But, really, it usually just means a cold, damp day during a season when it would otherwise be so nice to be outside.
If a chilly, damp spring is getting you down, give yourself a pick-me-up with a bowl of this “rainy day” ramen soup.
Ramen purists will say that you simply must start with homemade chicken or vegetable broth. While I do agree that homemade is sublime, store-bought ends up pretty darned good, too, so don't stress.
Also, I've included a recipe for soy sauce eggs. You should definitely try them at least once—they're one of my favorite parts of having ramen—but if you don't have a few hours to marinate them, feel free to sub plain hard-boiled eggs.
One thing that is really important, though, is that you don't mix in the miso until close to the end. Because miso is a fermented food, it has lots of good-for-you active cultures of bacteria. But if you boil all those good little bugs they die, and you lose all of their benefits.
I usually wait to mix the miso into individual bowls right before serving. That way, if we have leftover broth in our big stock pot at the end of the night, I can save and reheat it for leftovers without worrying about ruining the miso.
This soup is so delicious and fun to slurp up that it almost makes up for weather-altered spring plans.
Rainy Day Ramen
(makes about 6 servings)
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic
a peeled piece of fresh ginger about the size of your thumb
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce 2 sheets nori, cut into thin strips 8 ounces vermicelli rice noodles 4 teaspoons white miso, divided several handfuls fresh spinach 4-5 scallions 6 teaspoons sesame seeds, divided 6 soy eggs (recipe follows) Soy sauce and hot sauce (for serving)
Add the broth to a large stock pot and begin heating it. As it warms, mash the garlic cloves and roughly chop the ginger—you'll be straining both out later, so no need to be precise. Add them to the stock pot, along with the soy sauce and most of the nori. (Reserve six short ribbons of nori to garnish your soup at the very end.) Bring the broth to a boil, then let it simmer for 30-45 minutes.
When the broth is almost finished, cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Once the noodles are done, strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve to remove the solid bits.
Then, add a few cups of broth into each person's serving bowl. Use a fork to quickly whisk in ½ teaspoon of miso per cup of broth, then toss in a handful of spinach and a few snips of scallion.
Layer the noodles on top of the veggies. (The combined heat of the broth and the noodles will wilt the spinach just enough.) Then garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, a strip of nori, and a soy sauce egg.
Serve with extra soy sauce and hot sauce.
Soy Sauce Eggs
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
6 peeled, soft-boiled eggs
Stir together the water, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar, and pour into a container just large enough to hold the liquid and the eggs. Submerge the eggs in the soy sauce mixture, using a plate or canning jar to gently hold the eggs under the liquid if necessary. Marinate for 2-4 hours, then discard the liquid. Refrigerated in a lidded container, these eggs will keep for about two weeks.
--- If you liked this recipe, here are others you might enjoy:
Not yet a subscriber? Try a free trial HERE.
About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.