Udon noodle soup is a meal in a bowl. Filled with cubes of tofu, spinach, onions, and garlic, this full-bodied soup makes a satiating vegan lunch or dinner. But the real star of the show is the velvety miso tahini broth. Ready in just 15 minutes!
This udon noodle soup recipe has been a long time coming! I’ve been making it since this summer.
Over the months, it’s gone through many incarnations.
The first time I posted this soup on Instagram, it was loaded with seitan bulgogi, baked tofu, spinach, mushrooms, and onions.
Since then, I’ve made it countless times.
I’ve made it with sautéed mushrooms, kale, or Brussels sprouts…
I’ve wilted the spinach in the cooking broth or added it fresh at the end.
I’ve topped it with tofu I’ve simply browned in a skillet, or added cubes of packaged baked tofu at the end.
No matter what the combination, it’s always delicious.
That’s part of why I had such a hard time hitting publish on this recipe. Whatever ingredients I included in the soup worked beautifully because the real star of this show is the silky, umami-rich miso tahini broth.
Tahini is sesame seed paste. And it’s not uncommon to see noodle stir-fries with sesame oil or finished with sesame seeds. So it stands to reason that tahini fits right in with ingredients like miso paste and sriracha.
Ready in 15 minutes
The resulting soup is vaguely reminiscent of coconut milk with its velvety qualities. But it also has a bit of nuttiness, similar to peanut sauce. Finally, it has satiating protein and fat that makes a soup really feel like a meal.
For today’s recipe, I kept things super simple. It’s ready in only 15 minutes!
Part of what makes it so fast is that I use baked teriyaki tofu from Trader Joe’s as a topping. (It’s one of my favorite vegan Trader Joe’s products.)
The only preparation needed is cutting it into cubes. One slab of tofu works well for two bowls of soup.
I also threw in a handful of baby spinach at the end. You can either have it wilt in the warm broth on the stove. Or throw a fresh handful onto each bowl when serving, and swirl the soup to “cook” the spinach. Your call!
Speaking of swirling, as you’re eating the soup, make sure to swirl the noodles on the spoon with chopsticks or a fork, and get some of the broth on there as well. Then slurp it all in one go. Getting broth plus noodles bite after bite is magic.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I like to use udon noodles from the freezer section of my local Asian market, as opposed to dried udon noodles.
(You can see a picture of the package in this post on my cheesy udon noodle bowl with Brussels sprouts.)
The frozen noodles are already pre-cooked. They simply have to be reheated in boiling water. It takes about a minute to bring them up to temperature. It’s super convenient and makes for a really fast meal.
Don’t have or don’t like udon noodles? No problem. Any sturdy, toothsome noodle will work. This recipe will need about 1 cup of cooked pasta in total (a half cup of noodles per serving). So use whatever kind of noodle you prefer!
How to make this soup
Start by cooking udon noodles using the directions on the package. Frozen udon noodles need only about a minute in boiling water.
While the noodles are cooking, sauté onions and garlic in a soup pot. Once they are translucent and fragrant, add water, no chicken base Better Than Bouillon, miso paste, tahini, tamari, and sriracha.
Add tofu and spinach to the soup pot. Or save the spinach to add as a topping after the bowls of soup have been plated.
Divide the cooked noodles into two bowls. Top them with broth, spinach, and tofu.
Finish with a light drizzle of sesame oil. The oil is optional. However, it really amps up the sesame flavor of the tahini.
Make this soup your own
There are lots of ways to tweak this recipe to make it your own. Here are some ideas:
- When sautéing the onions and garlic, throw in a handful of chopped kale, sliced mushrooms, peas, sliced Brussels sprouts, freshly grated ginger, and/or bok choy. Sauté until softened, and then add the remaining broth ingredients.
- Instead of pre-packaged tofu, top the udon noodle soup with bulgogi tofu, eggy tofu, or seitan.
- Instead of spinach, top the tofu with sesame kale, crispy cabbage, scallions, shredded carrot, and/or a spoonful of sesame seeds.
- Like a spicier soup? Add another splash of sriracha.
- Prefer things a bit tangier? Add a splash of brown rice vinegar.
- Keep in mind that if you add a lot of extra ingredients to your soup, you may not have enough broth. So don’t be afraid to double the broth if necessary.
How to store leftover soup
For best results, store the udon noodles separately from the rest of the soup.
Udon noodles keep absorbing liquid if left in the broth. It makes for gluggy, overcooked noodles that are waaaay past their al dente prime.
To separate the noodles from a broth, simply put a fine mesh sieve over a round food storage container, like Pyrex. Carefully pour the soup into the sieve.
The broth will go through to the container. And the sieve will catch the rest of the ingredients. You can store them separately in another container.
When you’re ready to eat the leftovers, you can heat them separately or together on the stove or in the microwave.
Udon noodle soup with miso tahini broth (Vegan)
- 250 gram pouch frozen udon noodles Or 1 cup cooked noodles of your choice.
- 1/2 teaspoon organic canola oil or other neutral flavored oil
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon, no chicken base or your preferred vegetable bouillon
- 2 teaspoons white miso paste
- 1 Tablespoon tamari
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
- 2 Tablespoons tahini
- 3.5 ounces baked tofu or super firm tofu, cut into cubes**
- Big handful baby spinach divided
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil divided, optional garnish
- Start by cooking frozen udon noodles according to package directions, then draining the noodles. If you aren't using frozen udon noodles, cook your preferred type of noodle. You will need 1 cooked cup of pasta in total.
- While the noodles are cooking, bring a soup pot to a medium heat with oil. Saute onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant. This will take a few minutes.
- Add water, Better Than Bouillon no chicken base, miso paste, tamari, sriracha, and tahini to the pot. Stir until everything is evenly combined. You want the miso paste and tahini to dissolve into the broth.
- Add cubed tofu and a big handful of baby spinach to the tahini broth. Allow the spinach to wilt in the soup. (Or if you'd prefer, you can add the spinach later to the individual serving bowls as a topping.)
- Put one half of the drained noodles in a soup bowl and one half in the other bowl. Top the noodles with miso tahini broth, spinach, and tofu.
- Finish the bowls of soup with a drizzle of sesame oil. It's optional, but it really brings out the "sesame-ness" of the tahini. Not too much sesame oil is needed. About 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil per bowl is plenty.