Egg-drop udon and Persian noodle soup: Yotam Ottolenghi’s comfort food bowls – recipes (2024)

Like everyone else currently eating their way through to spring, I’ve been thinking a lot about comfort food recently. What makes something tick the comfort food box will vary from person to person, but, for me, there are a few obvious wins. The first is eating from a big bowl – I just love cupping my hands around the base, warming them as I go. Noodles are another big yes. True, “slurp” is perhaps not the most gracious of words, but I’m going to own it fully, chopsticks in (my now warmed) hand. Eggs score highly, too, and broth is never not a brilliant idea. Bring all these together and I think I’ve found a dish that is very comfortably going to see me right through.

Egg-drop udon with seaweed furikake

Get your cupboard stocked up with a few basic Japanese ingredients, and this meal will be pretty much ready and waiting for you. It delivers big on flavour and takes only minutes to prepare. Make more of the furikake than you need: it gets its name from the Japanese word for sprinkles, and it can indeed be sprinkled over all sorts: eggs, roast veg and all sorts of leafy salads get on brilliantly with the stuff.

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 2

2 bundles frozen udon (about 165g)

For the broth
10g dried wakame
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
2½ tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
¼ tsp sesame oil
4 tsp white miso paste
10g chives
, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten

For the furikake
1½ tsp uncooked white rice (any kind will do)
1 dried shiitake mushroom
1 tsp white sesame seeds
1 sheet nori
, roughly torn into 3cm pieces
Flaky sea salt

First, start the broth. Put the wakame, shiitake mushrooms and a litre of water in a medium saucepan and cook on a medium heat, just below a simmer, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the furikake. Put the rice, dried shiitake, sesame seeds and nori in a small pan, then toast on a medium heat for five minutes, until the sesame seeds turn golden. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar, then pulse or grind to a coarse powder: the grains of rice should be mostly broken down, but still have some texture. Stir in a teaspoon of flaky sea salt and set aside.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Drop in the frozen udon and cook for a minute, just until they have separated and are a uniform colour. Strain the noodles into a colander set over the sink, wait for any excess liquid to drain off, then divide the noodles between two bowls.

Stir the soy, mirin, sesame oil and a half-teaspoon of salt into the broth. Transfer three or four tablespoons of the broth to a small bowl, add the miso, stir to form a smooth paste and set aside.

Bring the broth in the pan back to a boil. Add half the chives and then, in a steady stream and in a circular motion, slowly pour in the beaten egg – the egg will immediately set in ribbons in the soup. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the reserved miso and broth paste.

Divide the broth between the two bowls of noodles, sprinkle the remaining chives and a good pinch of furikake on top, then serve immediately.

Classic retested: legume noodle soup

Egg-drop udon and Persian noodle soup: Yotam Ottolenghi’s comfort food bowls – recipes (1)

This heartwarming, thick soup is Iran’s answer to minestrone. This wonderfully wholesome and ­nourishing dish is called ash-e reshteh, and it leaves a real smile on your face. I found reshteh noodles at an ­Iranian grocer in London, but linguine will do the job just as well.

Prep 15 min
Soak Overnight
Cook 1 hr 20 min
Serves 8

125g dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight with 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
125g dried butter beans, soaked in water overnight with 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
80g clarified butter
2 large onions
, peeled and thinly sliced
10 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1½ tsp ground turmeric
Salt and black pepper
225g yellow split peas
Roughly 2 litres vegetable stock
35g chopped parsley
35g chopped coriander
15g chopped dill
100g spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
150g baby spinach
100g reshteh, or linguine
150g soured cream, plus 1 tsp per portion extra to finish
1½ tbsp white-wine vinegar
4 limes, halved

Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas and butter beans, then put them in two separate pots, cover in plenty of fresh water and boil until they’re almost cooked – depending on the age of the pulses, this may take anywhere ­between 25 and 55 minutes. Once both the chickpeas and butter beans are ready, drain them into the same colander.

In a large, heavy-based pot on a medium heat, melt the butter, then saute the onion and garlicfor 20 minutes, stirring often, ­until soft and golden brown. Stir in the turmeric, add salt and ­pepper to taste, then transfer a third of the mix to a dish.

Add the chickpeas and butter beans to the onion mix still in the pot, then stir in the split peas and stock and simmer for 30 minutes, occasionally skimming off the froth, until the peas are tender. Add the herbs, spring onions and ­spinach, stir and cook for 15 minutes longer; if the soup seems very thick, add a little extra stock (or water), to loosen. Taste and season generously.

Add the noodles to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes, until they are just done. Stir in the soured cream and vinegar, and adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve in bowls garnished with the extra soured cream and the reserved cooked onion mix, and with the lime halves on the side for squeezing over.

Egg-drop udon and Persian noodle soup: Yotam Ottolenghi’s comfort food bowls – recipes (2024)
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