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Aunt Judy’s Lentil Soup

Adapated from this

Dashi is a kelp and bonito flake broth that forms the base of many of the clean but somehow also earthy soups from Japan that feature Umami flavor (miso soup for instance is also a dashi base). Soba is a buckwheat noodle—a different tradition of noodle soups than Ramen. Soba is traditionally served cold or hot, with lots of garnishes. Soba noodles date back to the Tokugawa period in Japan (1603-1868).

Soba shops that also served Sake were early public eateries (incidentally, this is the time period when public eateries and drinkeries were beginning to proliferate in the west—coffeehouse in Britain then cafes then restaurants in Paris, revolution-hatching taverns in America). Also—this is interesting—apparently even in the 1700’s food delivery was causing society problems. Soba delivery drivers stacked a jillion bowls on their shoulders and drove like maniacs through the streets. Also, rich people in this era were getting Beriberi (thiamine deficiency) from eating so much white rice, and it turns out that buckwheat Soba contains ALL 9 AMINO ACIDS and so helps prevent it. Again we see how the necessary, the available, is transformed into the delicious.

Guys—Japanese cuisine is extremely clean and precise and many of the cooking techniques are subtle and specific. Such as making dashi. You need to follow these instructions EXACTLY because if you boil the kombu it makes dashi taste like bootie. You have to go over this with your KM’s and talk it through and make sure they watch it. It’s not like making a chicken broth where you just set it low and forget it while it cooks all day.

  • *This is a restaurant sized recipe!! Adjust way down for home use or check out the link!
  • Ingredients
  • 12 qts water
  • 3 C of ginger, sliced
  • 32 scallions, thinly sliced (more for garnish)
  • 8 sheets of kombu (8-inch by 4-inch pieces)
  • 4 qts of bonito flakes
  • 3 C soy sauce
  • 2 C mirin
  • ¼ – ½ cup salt (the only salt in this huge vat comes from the soy and the bonito—you need this or more)
  • 16 baby bok choy, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 quarts sliced button mushrooms (or fancy mushies if you want)
  • 8 packages of Soba noodles (or less and cook to order)
  • whole eggs
  • Sesame seeds, toasted

Combine water, ginger, scallions, and kombu in a pot; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Right when the broth comes to a boil, remove the kombu and lower heat to medium and add bonito flakes. Bring back up to a boil, then turn off heat. Add soy sauce and mirin and let steep for 15 minutes.

While dashi steeps, bring a separate pot of water to a boil, add whole eggs, and cook for 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and run under cold water. Peel, cut eggs in half, and reserve. These should not be hardboiled egg but softish boiled.

Cook dried soba noodles according to the instructions on the package rinse under cold water and reserve.

Once ready strain dashi with strainer into large Cambro. Once strained, put dashi back into the pot over medium heat. Check salt and adjust as needed. Add bok choy and dried mushrooms and bring back to a boil. Once soup has reached a boil, drop to a simmer until mushrooms are cooked (about 7-10 minutes).

  • To serve:
  • Serve over soba noodles
  • Scallions, thinly sliced
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ soft boiled egg for a cup
  • ½ soft boiled egg for a bowl
  • Maybe have soy and hot sauce available if guests request it?
hot soba soup