Chicken Soba Soup

Serves: 4
Approx cost: €5
Approx calories (per serving):
Approx preparation and cooking time: 25 mins

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0B0B61;”]Howdy folks – I hope this Saturday sees you well. Quite a few of the major roads are currently closed in my town as they found an old Second World War bomb buried several metres under the highway. While they dig that thing up and do… whatever it is they normally do with it (I think they said they were going to cover it with tons of sand and blow it up!) I thought I may as well use the opportunity to write this post. They should, apparently, be done with that by early this afternoon which is handy for me because I discovered a rather nice looking coffee shop via a post on the blog “Let Her Bake Cake” so I think we’re going to try and go there afterwards – I’ll be sure to try and take some photos! Other plans for the weekend involve making an English Christmas Cake, though just a small one. They can be quite mighty, and although they seem to last until the end of time because of all the booze poured into them, they’re not my favourite cake in the world – I much prefer the French “Bûche de Noël”. While the bakery near me flogs the most vile of Chocolate Logs, where the icing tastes of rancid margarine and the entire thing seems to be like a giant Twinkie – artificial tasting and full of colouring. If you can get a well made one though – well, you won’t regret it. I made my own last year which didn’t turn out too bad at all, indeed I will even try to do the same this year too!

For today’s recipe – well, I don’t know if I can call it a recipe, but maybe it will inspire you in your meal-making escapades. I recently discovered the joy of Dashi – the stock at the base of udon/soba soups, miso soup and what have you, and I’d been wanting to do another soup, but this time with Soba noodles (I’d found some rather nice green tea soba noodles!). However, I’d also seen Sissi’s hint for mixing chicken with tofu… specifically Silken Tofu here. My freezer was getting dangerously full, as well as severely in need of being defrosted so it’s time to start emptying it out! I had some chicken in a small bag there, and during a trip to the Japanese supermarket in Paris recently I found Silken Tofu for the first time – what a curious type of tofu it is, but anyway: meat like chicken with a low fat content can often get dry when cooking, so by mixing it up with the tofu, which has a high water content, you end up with a much more tender final result.

I got the ratios a bit wrong. Way too much tofu and I was very scared it was going to be a complete disaster, but once it was fried up it got a good, crispy shell on the outside. The inside was a little like a chicken omelette, which wasn’t at all unpleasant, but absolutely if I made this again I would increase the amount of chicken used, and likewise, decrease the amount of tofu! Have a great weekend everyone!

Ingredients

Chicken Soba Soup ingredients

  • 1 or 2 Chicken Breasts – around 160g per breast
  • ~200g Silken Tofu (if using 1 breast – 400g if using 2)
  • ~300g Soba Noodles
  • 1 small Onion
  • 3 tbsps Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Dashi Stock – Enough to half-fill 4 bowls (If using concentrate make up in the ratio of ~1 part concentrate to 8 parts water)
  • Additional garnitures of choice – lotus root, boiled egg, nori seaweed etc

You’ll also need

  • A food processor

Instructions

  1. Start off by dicing up the chicken breast(s) roughly and placing into the food processor. Add in the silken tofu and sprinkle in a bit of pepper. Blend until you reach a paste – I know, it looks like the least appetising thing ever but bear with me on that ;)
    Blending the tofu and chicken together
  2. Heat 2 tbsps of the Sesame Oil in a frying pan. Divide the mixture into 4 (for sizeable pieces), or 8 if you want smaller ones. When the oil is hot, transfer your divided mixture into the pan, 2 or 3 pieces at a time, or more if there’s space. Squish it down and shape it in the pan so it’s about 1.5cm thick, and roughly shaped like a chicken breast – or, if making 8 pieces, I guess you can shape it roughly like a large chicken nugget. While you’re frying them, pre-heat the oven to about 150 degrees Celsius and also place a large pan of water on to boil for the noodles. Fry the chicken pieces on each side for about 5 minutes until a nice golden brown and then transfer to a baking tray and then place in the hot oven while you finish the rest of the dish.
    Frying the chicken
  3. Once the water in the pan is boiling, place the noodles in the water and cook according to the instructions. My Soba needed ~3 minutes but it pays to check your own. Drain the cooked noodles once done and place the stock on the hob. Split the noodles between 4 bowls and then arrange the rest of the accompaniments – I sliced each piece of chicken into rough strips and placed on the noodles, added in a bit of lotus root and then pour over the almost-boiling stock. Sprinkle on a bit of Shichimi seasoning and enjoy immediately! Enjoy :)
    Chicken Soba Soup

Comments

  1. says

    I am a sucker for Japanese noodle soups (or I'd say, noodle soups in general, such as Vietnamese Pho :)). I do prefer udon than soba, but from time to time soba is certainly a nice change. I've tried chicken/tofu nuggets before and loved them, even though I've never tried them in soups. Another great post, Charles :)!

    • says

      Omg Pho! I need to give making that a try sometime. I know a place in Paris which serves great pho, I try to go there as often as I can. €6.50 for a huge bowl, enough to fill you up for two meals… great value!

  2. says

    What a neat recipe! – so the fried nuggets are made up of ground chicken and tofu, I like… and so doable too. You could enjoy these little crispy cakes with virtually anything – I like how you've paired them here with the soba (warm and comforting)- lotus root is just so gorgeous – it's the perfect finishing touch! I've got to give this one a try Charles. Thank you for the recipe and have a great weekend!

    • says

      Thanks Kelly – It's really surprising, if you get the ratio right, the texture is hardly impacted at all from "real 100%" chicken (as I wrote, I got it a bit off this time), but even then, the flavour is barely impacted… it's just like eating slightly milder chicken. I did feel that the soup lacked a certain "je ne sais quoi"… something with a bit of crunch, something vegetable-related. Maybe if I'd added in some strips of grilled courgette or aubergine or something it would have satisfied that need too! Something to bear in mind :)

      • says

        A little crunch? I would put cashews in the chicken – but that's just me (and maybe Sissi too ;)) – one of my boys' favourites meals is hamburger patties with onion and cashews…

  3. says

    dashi!!! haha so nice that we all blogged about it recently, you me and sissi. it really is such a convenient stock to have at hand, and yes i agree, nothing can beat proper homemade stock, quick or traditional versions!

    • says

      Thanks Shuhan. Well, you know what they say – great minds think alike and all that ;) Speaking of stock, I have a massive pot of vegetable stock simmering away on the stove right now. I should probably try and wrap it up soon because it's gone 2am. God knows where I'm going to stash it though – my freezer is almost completely full. Need to do some creative rearranging I think :/

    • says

      Hehe, thanks Karen – you know, I don't know what happened with that bomb in the end. I didn't hear anything. Maybe it turned out to be dead or something…

  4. says

    MMMMMMMmmmmm!! Yumm! I've been wanting to buy some tofu recently, but I keep holding myself back because I worry I'll get left overs and have no idea what to do with it! Now I love this chicken/tofu idea. Will be trying it out when I buy some! :D

    • says

      Thanks Fati – I hope you can give it a try – it's a very fun way as well of "spreading out chicken" and making it go further, without adding any bad stuff to it.

  5. says

    Charles, the area you live in sounds fascinating! The chicken soba soup looks fantastic and adding chicken balls ins a wonderful, creative idea. I must do it one day. I keep on making soups almost every day now.

    I am happy you like the tofu and meat mixing idea. (Thank you for mentioning me and the link!). I do it very often.

    Haha! I see you are also emptying the freezer. No chances to defrost mine… I have almost emptied it and two days ago a big package of shrimp + some other things make it impossible… I hope you are having a nice, sunny Sunday, like me!

    (By the way, I was also gong to make a bûche de Noël, but I am sure everyone would consider it extremely weird… I am looking forward to see yours!)

    • says

      Thanks Sissi – why would people think making a bûche de Noël is weird? They're so delicious! I will be making one in the middle of december I think – Not Christmas, but that's when we'll have some friends over so it is the most suitable time to make it. Just for you I started making my Christmas cake yesterday! I have left the fruit soaking in brandy over-night and I will continue making it when I go home today! I was so happy when I went shopping yesterday – I found crystallised ginger and glacé cherries too! I've never seen these in France before!

      • says

        Well, my recipe is very unorthodox, I don't know if it could be called bûche de Noël ;-) I will post it soon. Thank you for the Christmas cake. I am very impatient to see it on your blog soon! We have lots of different dried or crystallised fruits on the farmer's markets, but they are very expensive. On the other hand supermarkets have quite a big range, but the only crystallised fruit I buy is pineapple for my husband.

        • says

          Well, I was even able to find “candied peel” – slightly dried, candied orange and lemon peel in a box labelled “Macédoine de Fruits”. Great, I thought, and then I noticed that they also put watermelon in it too… Like seriously? Ah, good old France – so close, so close! Now mine will probably be the only Christmas Cake ever made which has chunks of watermelon inside, but I’m sure the taste will still be great. Ideally you need to make it a bare minimum of about 1 week before you plan on eating it, so I will post the recipe in the middle of December. That way, people will still have time to make one for Christmas if they really wanted to. I’m actually looking forward to making it – I’m not a huge fan of it, but adding in all the brandy and fruit was really making me feel very festive last night. I like the fact that you can “give it a drink” every couple of days before you cover it with marzipan and icing… make some holes in it and pour Brandy over the top – yum!

          My Christmas log is probably a little unorthodox too – I like to fill the centre with whipped cream and cherries, with ganache around the outside. Certainly the cherries might make the French purists balk a little but I think it’s delicious!

  6. says

    Hey, Charles, this looks so tasty on a rainy Sunday morning as I'm drinking my coffee. I got up late and threw my plans to go out to the market as a result. Instead, it's cuddle up in my flannel robe and surf the net tim efor me.

    I visited my Japanese grocery store yesterday on the hunt for the elusive matcha and was successful. :) Every time I go, I discover something else. Even though it's not a superstore, by any stretch of the imagination, there are a lot of interesting things on the shelves and in the frozen section.

    Unfortunately, I was running some other errands after I picked up the tea so I wasn't able to load up on anything frozen/perishable like the frozen octopus, grilled eel, red bean ice cream, frozen lotus root etc but I'm definitely checking it out again soon. I DID see some green tea soba noodles but I can also pick those up closer to home so I hope to try this lovely soup soon. Can you taste the 'green tea' in the noodles?

    • says

      Hi A_Boleyn, even if they're not "supermarket" sized, they can still be so fun. There's a very large Chinese supermarket in Chinatown, in Paris. This place sells just everything. I love walking past the 50 different varieties of leaves, shoved into bags, wondering what I could do with them :)

      I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures with Matcha. As for the noodles – yeah, I could definite;y taste the green tea. It was a very pleasant background flavour! Have a good day :)

      • says

        I'm home this morning (no job supply/substitute teaching) so I've already opened up the package of matcha and sifted it with the flour to make madeleines. After googling for people's opinion of matcha … I agree that it reminds me of the smell of grass (chlorophyll).

        When I was in university, my original research project for my master's degree was going to be to culture fresh water micro-organisms called 'rotifers' in a growth media based on chlorophyll which I purchased commercially. That's the first thought I had when I cut open the foil package of this powdered green tea. :(

  7. says

    Oh! Now this looks like a fun dish. Look at those beautiful noodles. Yum! What does lotus root taste like? It looks really interesting.

    So did they take care of the bomb? How wild! I hope you got some good pics. And I had to giggle…"where the icing tastes of rancid margarine and the entire thing seems to be like a giant Twinkie – artificial tasting and full of colouring." Twinkies are totally one of my guilty pleasures. At least once a year I'll buy a box. I'll share a few with the kids and hide the rest for myself. Some in the pantry and some in the freezer. Mmmmm. I know it's terrible, but ever since I was a kid, I just love them. :)

    • says

      Hi Kristy – lotus root is… hmm, how can I describe it. It's a bit like a soft, cold, hard potato which isn't quite so crunchy. The flavour is quite plain, so it's important to do something with it – either have a pickled/chilli-fied version of it, or fry in tempura etc.

      I'm not sure what happened with the bomb in the end. We were driving to Paris and going along the highway was slow because they'd limited it to 1 lane only. Cars on the other direction were re-routed over to our side of the road and there were a load of guys with trucks and diggers digging a hole and stuff. I heard nothing so I guess maybe it was a "dud". In any case, I was too happy to get to Paris and try that cake shop – so good. Left my camera behind though. Will go there again soon and get some photos!

      As for twinkies – Shame on you! :D I remember asking a friend to bring me a box when he visited the US once. I'd heard so much about them from movies and stuff, I was so sure they must be really good (same as Chips Ahoy… I was certain they'd be delicious). I eat one and I'm like "what the hell is this?" – they are just vile. They really taste of nothing but "artificial"… of course, I still ate the whole box but that's only because I have moral dilemmas with wasting food, even if it's tasting like rump!

      • says

        LOL! Charles you had me in stitches this morning reading this! Well before you completely discredit twinkies, try one frozen. ;) LOL. They do taste completely artificial, but they are great for a sugar boost. I remember in high school my friends and I would load up on these at sleepovers. They're a sure fire way to be up for hours. Now you have me wanting a twinkie. I don't think I've had one yet this year. ;) "Vile"…cracking up!

  8. says

    Buche de Noel (Yule logs)… my mother used to make these when I was in my teens but over the years she forgot the recipe as she had never written it down. It's a lovely dessert when done properly and I've seen them very elaborately decorated with meringue mushrooms to more closely resemble logs. I look forward to seeing your version of this as well as your Christmas cake. I have to confess that I actually LIKE the commercially sold Christmas or fruite cakes sold in Canadian grocery stores at this time of year. I buy one (plain whole fruit on top not marzipan iced) and end up eating the whole thing myself. Often before Christmas. :)

    Thank you for the information about the taste/texture of lotus root. I found them sold frozen by themselves and as part of a mixture of various vegetables. This gives me a good sense of what to expect.

    • says

      I think my "dislike" of Christmas cakes just comes from the fact that so many English cakes are boring. We eat fruit cake for everything – weddings, easter, Christmas… no matter the celebration there's a giant, heavy, dark fruit cake sitting there. I finished baking my Christmas cake last night – Now I need to feed it for a couple of weeks… soaking with some brandy every few days, and then I can ice it after that!

  9. says

    What an interesting soup, Charles. The chicken and tofu mix looks like it would have been wonderfully fluffy. JT made Soba soup for me last week because of my cold. The noodles are very tasty. I've never had lotus root, what is it? Is it cooked? I still have to respond to your email…busy week and busy weekend. Thanks for the info, though.

    • says

      Thanks Eva – it was really fluffy indeed… mainly because I added a bit too much tofu, but it was good nevertheless. Lotus root is great – if it's a good, fresh one. The one I had from the Japanese supermarket had been preserved in some sort of liquid, so it wasn't quite so crunchy, but it can be really crisp and delicious. Usually it's just boiled or pickled. Such a beautiful thing too – hard to believe it's the root of a flower, just sliced up!

  10. says

    I love the idea of chicken and tofu blend, will definitely keep it in mind the next time I'm searching for a different chicken texture. The soup looks just lovely :)

  11. says

    This sounds fabulous, Charles, and such wonderful presentation…as always. ;) I've never had anything quite like this, so I need to change that asap. I love Japanese food, but rarely ever cook it. No idea why! You did a fantastic job though.

    • says

      Thanks Caroline – I know right? There's a lot of cultures I haven't explored much – I'd love to cook more asian food in general, explore the Americas more too, and don't get me started on the treasure trove of tastes from Africa…! It's a long journey! :)

  12. says

    I love your chasoba! I always prefer the subtle green tea flavor in the soba noodle and I'm happy to see you didn't flavor the soup heavily. Glad to know you enjoy dashi stock, because we use it everyday for most of the cooking and that's the soup base we rely on (we barely use Chicken stock. We do use vegetable stock more than chicken, but still we use dashi for like 80% of our food. Your chasoba is a erfect light meal.

    • says

      Thanks so much Nami – I can't believe I only just found out about this stock! I really love udon and soba noodles – and I totally agree with you about the green tea flavour. It's a wonderful addition to the soup – like having a cup of green tea at the same time as your meal :D

      I was in the Izu peninsula in Japan over New Year one time and we ate toshikoshi soba – that was a really nice experience… Mmm, now I'm feeling really hungry for Japanese food right now :p

  13. says

    That looks just fantastic. Sissi has the best hints. I'm still laughing at the idea of the rancid margarine and shaking my head at the bomb discovery.

    • says

      Thanks Greg – luckily I didn't live in the apartments near the bomb – those people were ordered to close all their shutters and forbidden from leaving their apartments for several hours :/ What fun!

  14. says

    I want green tea soba!!! This looks great, and I love your combo of chicken with tofu… especially frying it up to give it some crunch :) I got some powdered dashi stock a while back, that I still need to use. Maybe I can try a soba soup, too!

    And that's unfortunate that you can't find a decent buche de noel in Versaille… definitely go with making one again, and share pictures!!! I try to make one every year :)

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