Soba Noodles in Shiitake-Shoyu Broth with Asparagus and Egg
I wanted to really love this soup. There were a lot of things that were very attractive about the recipe, including the soba noodles (yum), the inclusion of hard boiled eggs (my favorite soup ingredient), the pan-fried asparagus (a delicous and in-season veggie) . . . On top of all that, I was planning on feeding a pair of meat-adverse women, so the inclusion of tofu instead of meat and the fact that the broth was described as “unami-rich” despite being vegetarian pushed the recipe right to the top of the priority list.
My oldest and dearest friend, and one of my favorite cooking buddies, has just arrived back home in Alaska, so my lady and I invited her over for dinner and to watch the U.S. soccer friendly against Brazil.
With three of us working together, we went from zero to on the table in about 40 minutes. Given all the prep work, it would have taken me quite a bit longer by myself ! We prepared the soup following the directions posted on Serious Eats closely. The only significant variations were that we used duck eggs instead of hen, and firm tofu instead of soft (since these items were already in the fridge).
We filled out our meal with a nice green salad with good tomatoes, freshly-made and delicious naan (made with half whole-wheat and half white flour), and lots of fruit and chocolate for desert. The meal was filling and the company was delightful. Cooking and eating with good people (in this case, some of my favorite people) is one of the best damned things in the world.
In one sentence, this was a tasty soup that (for me) was probably more trouble than it was worth.
The broth was good, not difficult, and well worth repeating. None of the aspects of the prep were onerous on their own, but combined they added up (boiling eggs, cooking asparagus, making noodles, reserving mushrooms and leeks out of the broth, prepping tofu, etc.). It just may be that that’s the level of effort this style of soup (Japanese noodle soup with a bunch of add-ins) requires. However, I have noodle soup recipes that I like as much or more that are less labor intensive.
I will confess that one thing I may have fallen down on was the mushrooms. They’d been sitting in my garage (sealed up) for too long (longer in fact than I will admit in this space). It’s quite possible that better mushrooms would have resulted in better flavor, maybe even enough to tip the scales on this soup far enough for it to end up in the rotation.
The Soccer Game
It was a disappointing to see our first string team to be beaten so handily (4-1) by Brazil’s Olympic (meaning, mostly young players) team. However, this is nothing to freak out about for four reasons: (1) It was just a friendly; (2) It was Brazil, and it doesn’t really matter if it wasn’t their first team because . . . it was Brazil; (3) The score line is a bit misleading because we had good chances and at least two of their goals can be attributed to bonehead blunders by the same central defender (Gooch); and (4) There are positives to take away, including the fact that we went at Brazil with an attractive attacking game and several of our players (Gomez, Bradley, Johnson) put on impressive performances.