When it comes to Japanese soups, soba noodle soup is at the top of the favorites list.
It’s made with healthy buckwheat noodles, a savory dashi broth, and healthy toppings.
Not only is it tasty comfort food, but it’s versatile, so you can change up the ingredients and add what you love most.
Since soba noodle soup is so popular, I’m sharing two recipes with you. The first is a simple version and then a meaty upgrade for those days when you want to pack in some protein.
Once you feel the steam blowing the smell of that dashi broth towards you, I’m sure you’ll want to slurp down the noodles instantly.
It’s really that good, and the best news is, you can make soba noodle soup in less than 30 minutes.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What is soba noodle soup?
- 2 Traditional Toshikoshi soba noodle soup recipe
- 3 Is soba noodle soup healthy?
- 4 Soba noodle soup recipe variations
- 5 How to serve soba noodle soup
- 6 Origin of soba noodle soup
- 7 Conclusion
What is soba noodle soup?
Soba noodle soup is a famous Japanese noodle soup made with dashi broth, soba buckwheat noodles, topped with fresh green scallions, and fish cakes (optional).
That’s the most basic version where the focus is on the broth and noodles’ umami flavors.
Therefore, the most important part of the soup is the dashi base. The dashi broth contains all the umami flavors this soup needs.
Whether you choose vegan-friendly kombu (seaweed) dashi or use classic bonito dashi, a good quality broth is the key to tasty soba soup.
Soba noodles are long, thin buckwheat noodles with a nutty and earthy flavor. The pure variety is made of buckwheat only, and the cheaper soba is made by combining buckwheat with wheat flour, called nagano soba.
These noodles are a healthier alternative to traditional pasta and other noodles.
Traditional Toshikoshi soba noodle soup recipe
- 3 cups of water
- 1 or 2 pieces dried kelp (kombu)
- 1 cup of bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp soy sauce you can use light soy too
- ½ tsp salt
- 7 oz soba noodles
- 2 green onions / scallions
- 2 hard-boiled eggs cut in half
- ¼ tsp Shichimi togarashi Japanese 7 spice
- Soak the kombu for about 1 hr before you start cooking or leave overnight to have it ready the day you cook. If you’re short on time, just soak it as you start making the soup.
- Boil 2 eggs until hard. Once cooked, set them aside.
- In a pot, add the kombu and the kombu water and bring to a boil on medium heat. When the water starts to boil, remove the kombu pieces and set them aside for later use or discard.
- Now add in the bonito flakes and simmer for approximately 30 seconds.
- Turn the heat off and let the bonito flakes simmer in the dashi for 10 minutes.
- After the 10 minutes are up, drain the stock and remove all pieces. You should now have a light yellow clear broth.
- Add in the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and salt, and stir. Bring it to a simmer and then put it aside.
- Slice the green onion or scallions into small pieces.
- Peel the eggs and cut them into halves.
- Bring water to a boil and cook the soba noodles per packaging instructions or usually 4-5 minutes.
- Drain the soba noodles and run them under cold water for a few seconds to remove the remaining starch.
- Place noodles in the bowls, add the dashi soup and garnish with spring onions and two egg halves. Now you’re ready to enjoy the hot soup!
Is soba noodle soup healthy?
A serving of this soba noodle soup contains approximately:
- 450 calories
- 90 g carbs
- 22 g protein
- 2 g fat
Soba noodle soup is one of those diet-friendly Japanese dishes. While it does contain carbs and fats, you can make the soup healthy by substituting ingredients.
Egg, for example, is a good source of protein and healthy cholesterol.
The soba noodles (if pure buckwheat) are an excellent noodle choice because they’re a plant-based protein source and weightloss-friendly. As well, soba noodles are high in fiber, manganese, thiamin, and they help support cardiovascular health.
Dashi is a very healthy broth because it contains all the health benefits of kombu (kelp). Kombu is high in calcium, potassium, iodine, and iron.
As well, it contains vitamins B, C, D, E, and essential amino acids that help the muscular system function optimally.
Soba noodle soup recipe variations
Vegan / vegetarian
To make this dish vegan, you need to remove the eggs and use either aburaage tofu or some vegetables such as bok choy, cabbage, carrots, or spinach.
You can also make vegan dashi, which is called Kombu dashi. To make it, all you need is kelp, and you skip the bonito flakes because those are small pieces of skipjack tuna.
Simple steep the kombu kelp pieces in cold water for 2-3 hours until the water is infused with that sea umami flavor.
Meat / protein
Both beef and chicken go well in soba noodle soup.
I recommend chicken soba noodle soup because it’s a light yet flavorful upgrade to the basic soup. It’s kind of like the classic chicken noodle soup you always have when you’re feeling down, except it has those amazing umami Japanese flavors.
It’s so easy to make; you’ll be glad you chose this meaty version!
You make the same soup as the recipe. Then, you add 1 lb of chicken breast, cut it into small pieces, and boil it with the dashi stock for about 10-12 minutes. It’s really that easy!
I love adding all kinds of ingredients and toppings to my soba noodle soup to make it heartier and more flavorful.
Here are some Asian-style topping and condiment suggestions to make this soup more interesting:
- Kamaboko (fishcakes) that you can slice into thin strips and add to the soup for fishy flavor
- Wakame seaweed
- Hard-boiled egg
- Bok choy
- Mushrooms (shiitake & shimeji)
- Sesame seeds
- Japanese seven spice
- Hot chili flakes
- Green peas
- Boiled chicken breast
How to serve soba noodle soup
The soba noodle soup is an excellent starter for rice dishes and meaty stir-fries. But if you add meat, fishcakes, and more vegetables, it’s a full meal, and it will definitely fill you up for lunch or dinner.
Some people like to have tempura shrimp alongside the soup to add more flavor, but the noodles quite wholesome.
Simple soba noodle soup without meat is delicious when served cold, too, especially during torrid summer days. In fact, cold soba noodles is a popular Japanese dish, and it’s also very easy to make.
When it comes to eating the soba noodle soup, the best way to eat them is to slurp the noodles and then eat the hot broth with a spoon.
This is one of those instances when people aren’t going to judge you for slurping noodles at the table.
Origin of soba noodle soup
Toshikoshi soba (年越し蕎麦) is the official name of what’s known as New Year’s Eve noodles.
The soba noodle soup served on the evening between the years is supposed to commemorate the year-crossing. It’s a traditional and symbolic dish that represents a fresh start and brings good luck.
This tradition began sometime during the 13th century but gained more popularity during the Edo period when eating soba noodle soup became associated with good fortune.
In fact, slurping soba noodles symbolizes living a peaceful life. So, what better way to start the new year than with a peaceful culinary delight?
Back in the day, people made basic soba noodle soup with just dashi broth, noodles, and a sprinkle of chopped scallions.
But these days, people are looking for more complex flavors, so they prepare the basic version of this soup and add many more ingredients like seafood, chicken, beef, and more vegetables.
With both of these soba noodle soup recipes, you get a tasty fusion of dashi and soba noodles, both staples of Japanese cuisine.
It’s the type of soup that works as a starter or a main dish, especially during cold days when all you need is a hot broth with wholesome noodles.
It’s also the perfect comfort food if you’re feeling ill or under the weather because it helps the digestive system and boosts immunity.
So, next time you want noodle soup, switch ramen with this healthy soba version.
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Rather looking for a soba noodle salad? Try this deliciously refreshing soba noodle salad recipe!