based on several recent posts stuffed chock-full of food porn and serious meat eating, you may think i have absolutely zero self-control when it comes to eating out, and you might be right. as much as i believe that we should all eat less meat for health and environmental reasons, i have trouble turning down a really delicious meat dish that has been sustainably sourced. and luckily (or not, depending on your viewpoint) there are ample bay area restaurants (linked above) that make it a point to get their meat from local, humane, non-industrial producers.
however, i rarely cook meat when i’m cooking for myself since it’s much cheaper and healthier to cook vegetarian, or at least mostly vegetarian. one of my goals is to make this blog at least marginally useful and share some ideas for cooking affordable, healthy, easy meals that are ideally local, organic, and/or sustainable. thus, i present the all-organic–asian-inspired-under-ten-dollars-one-pot-veggie-udon soup. word.
first, the grocery list:
1 package organic planet udon – $2.22
1/2 box pacific organic free-range chicken broth – $2.04
1 bunch organic kale – $2.29
1 head of organic broccoli – $1.15 (or so)
your shockingly low two-meal total? – $7.70!!!
note: i bought the first two items from local markets but couldn’t remember how much they cost, so i found ’em on the interwebs.
$7.70? woohoo! that’s $3.35 a meal because it makes enough soup for dinner and then leftover noodles with veggies for lunch. also, i didn’t use all the kale or the udon, although you can if you want more food. that’s way cheaper than buying lunch almost anywhere and infinitely healthier than the dollar menu at mcdonald’s. the dish is also extremely versatile – make it fully vegetarian or even vegan with veggie broth instead of chicken. make it heartier by adding tofu for vegetarians or chicken or shrimp for meatatarians or an egg for deliciousitarians. exchange the kale and broccoli for spinach or bok choy or any other veggies you prefer or happen to have in the fridge. have two soups instead of one soup and one noodle dish by using more or all of the broth. really, this recipe is just a starting point to base your edible creations.
the recipe itself is not even so much a recipe as a loose set of directions. i call it a one-pot soup because i did actually make it in one small saucepan. now, the extremely organized and intelligent way to cook this would be to cook the various parts separately (noodles, kale, and broccoli), then add them all to the hot broth so they will all be perfectly cooked. however, this would take either considerably more time (to boil one ingredient after each other) or more than one pot (to boil each ingredient simulataneously), and no one likes washing lots of dishes.
my renegade and ingeniously effiicient (read: lazy) solution is to cook everything in one pot at once by staggering cooking times. if you do your best to estimate cooking times of all your ingredients, it is perfectly possible to end up with the quickest and easiest of delicious meals. it is also possible that you will end up with the generally inedible combination of overcooked broccoli and undercooked noodles. scoff away, ye of little faith. don’t worry – my soup was DEEE-LISHHOUS, each element perfectly cooked as if given the individual loving attention bestowed upon small children at immensely overpriced preschools for the wealthy.
anyway. directions. they’re simple and easy, like the food.
1. pour your broth in a pot and heat to a boil.
2. start chopping your vegetables into bite-size pieces.
3. when the broth is boiling, put your noodles in and let them start cooking.
4. wait a minute or two, then add vegetables according to cooking times. here’s the easy general rule – if the vegetable or vegetable part is hard like carrots or broccoli stems, they will take longer to cook. if it is soft or leafy like spinach or kale, it will extremely fast to cook. some items may need to be divided into parts and added separately (like chard stems and then chard leaves).
5. wait for the magical moment that everything is cooked to the right point (or close enough). season if you like with soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce, or any sauces/flavorings you like.
6. eat. nom nom nom.