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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Change of Flavor: Spicy Asian Turkey and Soba Noodle Soup

This time of year flavor profiles get awfully predictable around here. Family gatherings abound, and everyone turns to their tried & true holiday recipes. Nothing wrong with that, really... who doesn't look forward to that one particlar dish mom only serves during Thanksgiving or Christmas? But no matter how awesome the turkey was, you can only eat so many turkey sandwiches before you want to hurt someone. Frankly, my kids are already there.

Last year I turned leftover turkey into a Turkey Soup with Lime and Chile, but this year I wanted something different, something with the strong flavors of sesame oil and ginger. I also knew I wanted to use soba, because despite some people thinking they look like worms (you KNOW who you are!) they are nutty and delicious and absolutely a favorite of mine. Plus, this was the first time I ever cooked with baby bok choy, and I was thrilled to discover I like it almost as much as kale. And baby bok choy is WAY fun to say!

This soup breaks one of my normal routines. Normally, I'm a one-pot kind of soup gal. But here, I cook the soba separately and ladle the soup over the top. I think it's worth the extra step to keep the noodles from absorbing too much liquid and getting mushy. You can freeze this soup with no problem, just freeze it without the noodles.

Spicy Asian Turkey and Soba Noodle Soup

1 T. canola or vegetable oil
8 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms
pinch of salt
2 T. dark sesame oil
1/2 c. chopped green onion (mine were small, I used 8 - reserve a few green tops for garnish)
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. sriracha (or less if you are not a spicy food lover)
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
3 c. chopped cooked turkey
2 heads baby bok choy, ends trimmed, washed, and sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
8 oz. soba noodles

Heat canola oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add sliced mushrooms (I cheat and buy mine already sliced, 'cause I'm lazy like that) and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Toss all together. First the mushrooms will soak up the oil like sponges, then they'll release a ton of liquid. Keep cooking and stirring frequently until the liquid evaporates and mushrooms start to brown on the edges. You want them nice and dense and chewy with crispy edges, NOT slimy.

Remove mushrooms to a separate bowl, and reserve. In the same pot, add the sesame oil, the green onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sriracha. Stir and sautee for around 30 seconds, until everything is fragrant. Add the chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer. Simmer broth for 20 minutes to meld all the flavors.

Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles until tender according to package directions. Drain and rinse briefly with cold water.

Add the turkey, bok choy, and the reserved mushrooms to the broth and simmer for 5 minutes.

Using tongs, place noodles into bottom of bowl. Ladle soup over the top of the noodles and garnish with reserved green onion tops. Serve!

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