Craving something comforting? We’ve partnered with Cynthia from Two Red Bowls to create a deliciously easy bowl of Soba Noodle Soup that is guaranteed to hit the spot.
Every once in awhile, a dish comes along that checks off every box. Comforting, but not too heavy, quick but with a flavor that tastes complex and long-simmered, easy but makes you look like a kitchen wizard — and, of course, just plain delicious. This noodle soup, deeply savory with a touch of sweetness, with tender Berkshire pork belly, soft tofu, and springy soba noodles, is it.
Originally based on the most incredible version I had at a soba restaurant a few months ago, this soup seemed too deceptively easy when I first started researching how I might make it.
All the most flavorful Japanese soups I knew of previously got their flavor from hours and hours of preparation, a day (or multiple days) of simmering, and I thought this had to be the same. How, instead, could it possibly come together with just two pots, 30 minutes, and a handful of ingredients? But it totally does, and it tastes every single bit as impressive as something that takes days to make. Pure magic.
The soup gets most of its flavorful savory-sweetness from quickly searing the pork belly with sweet onions, then adding mirin, soy sauce, sake and a touch of sugar.
But what truly finishes the dish, and what I love most, is a soft, mostly-uncooked egg that’s added in just before eating to create a creamy, richly opaque broth. Since unpasteurized eggs aren’t always safe to eat raw, I baked mine in ramekins for 10 minutes or so before adding them, but if you can get pasteurized eggs, feel free to just crack one in raw.
Pork Belly Soba Noodle Soup
This soup benefits greatly from good quality pork, so be sure to look out for Berkshire (or Kurobuta) pork belly if you can find it. Most Japanese and Korean markets will sell packages that are thinly pre-sliced already.
- 1-2 teaspoons oil
- 6-8 ounces thinly sliced Berkshire pork belly, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup diced sweet onion (about 1 small onion)
- 6 ounces (about 1/2 of most packages) diced tofu, as firm or soft as you like
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 3-4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3-4 tablespoons sake
- 3-4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 cups water
- 2 eggs
- 8 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
- 2 scallions, sliced diagonally
If using unpasteurized eggs, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (If you have pasteurized eggs, you can break them raw into your soup at the end and skip baking them.)
Heat a 2- or 3-quart saucepan over medium heat with just enough oil to prevent sticking, a teaspoon or so. Add the pork belly and onion, and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until pork belly is cooked through and onions have softened.
Add the diced tofu, mirin, soy sauce, sake, sugar and water, and stir gently until combined. You may want to start with a bit less of each of the sauce ingredients, and work your way up with more after adding the water if you find it too bland. Turn the heat to high until the soup begins to simmer, then reduce to its lowest setting and keep it on a bare simmer until the noodles and eggs are ready. Since pork belly is a bit fatty, you may want to skim any fat off the surface of the soup as it cooks. (See Notes on other tips to make the broth less oily.)
To prepare the eggs, break each into a small 4-oz oven-safe ramekin, then place into a pan filled with about one inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the white just begins to turn opaque. (Again, skip if using pasteurized eggs.)
While the eggs are baking, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the noodles until firm but tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and divide between two bowls. Ladle the broth over each bowl and divide the pork belly and tofu between the two. Top with sliced scallions and serve with very soft (or raw, if pasteurized) egg. Whisking the egg yolk into the soup will make for an especially nice, creamy broth.
If you have the extra time and you’d like to make the broth as light as possible, you can prepare it the night before, refrigerate it overnight, and easily remove all the solidified fat the next day. Then simply heat it up as you’re making the noodles and eggs, and enjoy.
In the mood for more? We love this Slow Cooker Ramen by Half Baked Harvest.