Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

Story by Karyl Henry, Karyl’s Kulinary Krusade

When I was a kid, my mom made soup regularly, especially on those cold and dreary winter or rainy days. She would make a big pot, and we’d have leftovers for several days.

Until a few years ago I had this irrational fear that soup was hard to make. But once I realized the complete opposite was true, I have several favorites on my list all year long.

This was the perfect opportunity to jump out of my comfort zone with a soup I love but that I had never made before, Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

  • It’s surprisingly easy to make
  • You can adjust the heat to your preference
  • It’s great to make ahead and perfect for leftovers

As soon as we decided to do Spicy Beef Noodle Soup I went into a panic, convinced I had bitten off more than I could chew. I did lots of recipe research, spent about 2 hours in the Asian market selecting ingredients, and got to work.

The great thing is, Spicy Beef Noodle Soup isn’t that hard to make. Yes, it takes about 3 total hours. But most of that time is the soup simmering on the stove.

There are lots of variations of Beef Noodle Soup, but the standard across the board is low and slow cooking, a fragrant and flavorful broth, and beef.

INGREDIENT TIPS FOR SPICY BEEF NOODLE SOUP

MEAT AND BONES

I use boneless beef shank, which comes from the leg of the steer. It’s one of the toughest portions of meat, so it does really well with this slow cooking method. Another good choice is beef chuck.

Roasted beef bones add an amazing layer of flavor to the soup base. They’re popular in Asian cooking and readily available at the Asian market.

Beef bones aren’t required, but the soup is missing something without them. If you know you’ll be making this soup regularly, stock up on beef bones and freeze them until needed.

SEASONING AND SPICES

There are many options when it comes to seasoning the soup base. I tested several different combinations and came up with a simple and extremely flavorful mix.

  • Star anise – has a very strong black licorice flavor. Even if you’re like me and don’t eat black licorice, don’t skip this spice.
  • Bean paste – it’s a paste made with red beans and comes in mild or hot.
  • Chinese Cooking Wine or Dry Sherry.
  • Hot chili paste.
  • Low sodium soy sauce.

I also use fresh garlic, ginger, yellow onion, and spring onions.

If you don’t like much heat, I recommend that you substitute half of the chili paste with bean paste, and definitely use mild bean paste. The soy sauce helps to cut the heat of the paste.

CHEESECLOTH

The last thing you want is to bite into peppercorns when you’re eating the soup or forget the star anise in there. So I use a piece of cheesecloth to keep them together.

You might be tempted to add the garlic and ginger to the cheesecloth…DON’T! You want to sweat both of them with the onions, to release even more flavor.

NOODLES

You can use fresh or dry noodles, but I prefer fresh. I also use a very thin noodle so it cooks quickly. Most important is to use a wheat noodle instead of a rice noodle.

This Spicy Beef Noodle Soup is amazing and is staying at the top of my must-make list. I can’t wait to make it for friends.

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup from KarylsKulinaryKrusade.com

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds of beef shank or beef chuck, cut into 2” pieces
2-3 beef bones
½ Tablespoon avocado oil
1 medium onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½” fresh ginger, with skin, sliced
1 ½ Tablespoons bean paste
1 teaspoon hot chili paste
¾ cup low sodium soy sauce
9 cups of water
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 star anise
1 Tablespoon white peppercorns
8 baby bok choy, ½” cut off the bottom ends
1lb fresh or dry noodles
2 spring onions, chopped into small pieces

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beef bones on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine bean paste, hot chili paste, and soy sauce. Set aside. 

Place star anise and white peppercorns into a piece of cheesecloth. Tie together with a piece of kitchen twine.

Add beef bones to a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove bones and discard water. This will remove impurities from the bone and give you a cleaner tasting soup base. 

Heat oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes, until translucent. Add ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. 

Pour the bean paste mixture into the pot and stir well to combine. Add meat, bones, sugar, sherry, cheesecloth, and 9 cups of water. 

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 2 hours. 

Remove beef and set aside. Simmer soup base for another 30 minutes

While the soup simmers, slice the meat into thin slices and set aside. 

Rinse bok choy well. Add a little oil to a skillet and cook the bok choy over medium-high heat until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

Prepare noodles according to package directions.

Portion noodles into bowls. Ladle broth on top, enough to nearly cover the noodles. Add some slices of beef and bok choy.

Finish with a garnish of spring onions.

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