It wasn't until I became a private chef that I realized how many people have food allergies. Gluten, eggs, and peanuts are probably the most common allergies I've dealt with but most recently I had a client who couldn't have tomatoes. Once I started creating her menu, I quickly realized that so many meals require tomatoes! I mean, not being to have grilled cheese with tomato soup? It seems too cruel. And so, to celebrate all the tomatoes, I'm making an Asian style tomato soup with udon noodles. Top it with umami packed shiitake mushrooms, seared bok choy, and crispy shallots and you have one amazing vegetarian noodle soup.
Asian Style Tomato Soup with Udon Noodles
Asian style tomato soup
- 6 Roma tomatoes halved
- ¼ cup oil divided
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 scallions chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass minced
- 1- inch ginger peeled and minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 star anise
- 1 3- inch cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 cups water
- ¼ cup Shaoxing wine or sherry
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 20 shiitake mushrooms halved
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp sake
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 8 baby bok choy halved
- 4 packs of udon noodles
- ¼ cup Thai basil chopped
- 2 scallions chopped
- ¼ cup crispy shallots
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and place them on a baking pan. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil on the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for 20-25 minutes or until slightly charred and softened.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and scallions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and saute for another 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes or until the tomato paste is caramelized.
- Add the roasted tomatoes to the pot along with the star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, water, and Shaoxing wine. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the umami braised mushrooms. Heat ¼ cup oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the halved shiitake mushrooms with the cut side facing down. Cook until the mushrooms are browned, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set them aside.
- In the same pan, add soy sauce, mirin, sake, brown sugar, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then add the mushrooms back to the pan and toss to coat. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Keep warm.
- Return to the soup. Season the stock with soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, and pepper. Add the butter, stirring until it's fully melted and incorporated into the broth.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the bok choy and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Remove the bok choy and in the same pot, cook the udon noodles according to the directions on the package. Portion the noodles into 4 bowls and ladle the soup on top. Top with the bok choy and umami braised mushrooms and garnish with chopped basil, scallions and crispy shallots. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Once summer comes rolling around, I can't wait to use all of the fresh produce including tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes make the most delicious marinara sauce and tomato soup. I personally prefer it over canned tomatoes which can have too much concentrated flavors if that makes any sense.
This Asian style tomato soup uses fresh tomatoes; even if tomatoes aren't in peak season, I encourage you to try using fresh.
The soup is tomato-based, so in order to bring out as much flavor as possible, we're going to first roast the tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until slightly charred and softened.
Meanwhile, let's start with the soup. To make the tomato soup Asian, we're going to incorporate aromatics such as lemongrass, ginger, scallions, and garlic.
Saute the onions until softened, add the aromatics, then add the tomato paste and continue to cook for 2 minutes or until the tomato paste is caramelized. Yup, we're adding tomato paste to the soup to add even more tomato flavor.
Now add the roasted tomatoes to the pot along with the spices, water, and Shaoxing wine. If you can't find the Shaoxing wine, you can substitute it for sherry.
Bring the soup to a boil and continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Season the broth with soy sauce, fish sauce, and a pat of butter. The butter will add just a touch of richness and body to the soup.
Now, let's make the toppings. Sure the broth is delicious, but why not make the dish even more fabulous with savory shiitake mushrooms?
Cut the mushrooms in half and saute them in oil over medium heat until caramelized. You may need to cook the mushrooms in batches if they don't all fit in the pan. Also, shiitake mushrooms are fairly dry mushrooms compared to other varieties so they need a good amount of oil.
Remove the mushrooms from the pan and simmer together soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, sake, and black pepper. Add back the mushrooms and simmer them with the sauce, letting them soak up all the flavors. Keep the mushrooms warm while you prepare the other toppings.
I chose to use udon noodles for this noodle soup but you can swap them out for other noodles. You can also substitute the bok choy for any other type of greens such as kale, spinach, or watercress.
Assemble the bowls by portioning the noodles into 4 bowls. Ladle the Asian style tomato soup on top and pile on the mushrooms and bok choy. Finish the dish with basil, scallions, and crispy shallots and serve immediately.
I served this noodle soup to my clients who actually could have tomatoes and am happy to report that they loved it! If you didn't think vegetarian broth could be flavorful, I hope you give this one a try!