Healthy Ramen Soup Made Simple
A healthy ramen soup with Bok Choy and hints of miso makes this college staple a major upgrade!
Many of us likely remember the famous ramen noodles in its small and square, bright and saturated colors. And better yet, the number of these packages you could purchase for a total of $1! Well, ramen noodles are making a comeback, and not the extremely cheap kind. Ramen noodle restaurants are popping up in many metro areas, and for good reason.
Is it for the broth that warms the soul? Or the flavors in the soup itself that draws you? For me, it’s the soft, chewiness of the crinkly noodles. A healthy ramen soup from a restaurant (or better yet homemade) will contain no seasoning packets and are bursting with nutrient-packed vegetables and proteins.
What’s so great about this soup is that it is still affordable to make at home and requires only basic ingredients (also making it a versatile dish)! This soup can be made vegetarian or with meat and seafood; it all depends on the basics. These ingredients in ramen are the noodles, broth, and toppings. For more on ramen basics, check out this article here written by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, the James Beard Award winning chef and blogger for Serious Eats.
Miso…so good for you!
Most of us may recognize miso in the form of the delicious miso soup served at sushi restaurants. The umami-rich miso is actually fermented soybean and grains formed into a paste. Key word here is fermented. Yes, it’s a probiotic! This paste, has potentially good-for-your-gut and immune-boosting bacteria.
These probiotic foods are so popular that they are even seen in pills and supplemental powders. Research is still out there to back these claims being made by food and supplement companies. One potential clinical benefit being mentioned is for people with digestive disorders. An article by Stat last year states that there is “tremendous promise”. There is still ongoing discussion on the safety and regulations of supplemental use. Most health experts suggest sticking to foods naturally-containing these bacterial strains. Kefir, kombucha, and kimchi sound familiar? For more information on food sources and supplementation use, here is an interesting article by NPR’s The Salt.
Cold and flu season is here!
I hate to break it to you, but there is not a single food item that will magically cure a cold. Eating an abundance of healthy foods however, these will boost your immunity and fight inflammation! Foods with potential benefits are garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and colorful vegetables such as broccoli and red peppers. Another excellent food group to incorporate would be fatty fish thanks to its abundance of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. For vegetarians, I would recommend walnuts or flax seeds that naturally contain these healthy fats.
Ramen soup contains a majority of these potentially immune-boosting food items. If you wish to replace the bok choy, try vitamin C and K-rich broccoli or leafy greens. And if mushrooms aren’t for you, try fish or tofu as a healthy substitute.
Besides choosing the right foods or exercising to prevent a cold, the most effective is actually proper hand hygiene. Have you heard of washing your hands to the length of the “Happy Birthday” song? Well, it’s true! In combination with washing your hands under running water, the CDC recommends scrubbing with soap for 20 seconds. Just remember, there is no shame in singing out loud next time!
- 1 tablesoon olive oil
- 8oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 scallions chopped, white and green pieces separated
- 1 teaspoon crushed or minced ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable (or chicken) broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
- 1 medium boy choy, stems separated, core removed
- 8oz ramen or egg noodles
- 2 teaspoons white miso paste, optional
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil, optional
- Heat half the oil on medium-high heat in a large pot and sautee the mushrooms, about 3-5 minutes to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, and white scallion ends. Continue for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the broth, water, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- While the broth is simmering, saute the bok choy with remaining olive oil on medium-high heat using a skillet or non-stick pan, about 5-7 minutes to lightly brown (if preferred, bok choy can be steamed). Set aside.
- Once the simmering has 5 minutes remaining, add the noodles to the simmering broth and bring to a boil. The noodles should soften in 3-5 minutes. Once noodles are softened, add the miso and sesame oil, continue for one extra minute or two to mix well. Turn off heat.
- Pour the soup into bowls and distribute bok choy evenly into the soup. Top with green scallions.
- Other optional toppings: meat, hard boiled egg, seafood, tofu, and hot sauce.
This soup does not include salt due to sodium content in the soy sauce, broth, and miso. Based on your preference, adding salt is optional.
Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and recent transplant to Boulder, CO. After working as an inpatient dietitian for almost five years in Boston, she is expanding her expertise in the health and wellness industry. Katie is passionate about cooking and food photography, sharing her culinary adventures on her food blog, One Hungry Bunny, and exploring her new Rocky Mountain surroundings. Follow Katie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.