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Noodle Broth

Noodle Broth

Oriental cuisine is often renowned for being flavoursome, but a little complex. Of course, in many cases – dim sum, for instance – both claims are true. Despite this, an even greater number of dishes, which find their roots firmly planted in the soil of the East, defy the latter assumption with their simplicity and accessibility. Granted, traditional ingredients can often be tricky to come by and often require time-consuming trips to out of town Asian supermarkets, but even specialist ingredients aren’t necessary across the board. Besides, a dish needn’t be explicitly authentic for it to be considered to be from a certain region.

It is important to consider, when talking about authenticity in food, that very little cuisine remains truly authentic. For instance, as Madhur Jaffrey highlights in the latest episode of BBC 4’s Food Programme, chillies, which have become synonymous with Indian cuisine, originated in the Americas before spreading far and wide. It seems unlikely that anyone would consider this recipe for noodle broth particularly authentic. It is more akin to a Westerner’s take on the Orient, with ginger and soy sauce – ingredients we visualise as traditionally Chinese in origin – featuring heavily.

An interesting point this dish raises is how well fusion food can work – you wouldn’t think of thyme and bay as suitable for a noodle broth, but they work particularly well. Of course, authenticity has its place in the world of food – consumers love to think they are experiencing “the taste of India”, even though no one region on the Asia subcontinent has the same “taste” as another. However, what makes food so interesting and timeless is finding flavours that work together in spite of their heritage and turning them into something magical.

Noodle Broth

Serves 3-4


• 100g rice noodles

• 1 litre chicken stock

• A small bunch of thyme

• 2-3 bay leaves

• A knob of ginger, finely chopped

• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed

• A little dark soy sauce

• 1-2 small red chillies

• A few leaves of sweet basil

• 2 tbsp sesame oil


1. Fry the garlic and ginger off in a large pan using the sesame oil. Add the chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves, bring to a simmer and allow to infuse, with the lid on, for 15-20 minutes. Sieve the stock, removing all of the contents, return to the pan and pop in the uncooked noodles.

Noodle Broth

2. After simmering for 15 minutes the noodles should be cooked. Serve in bowls and top with finely slices chilli, a sprinkling of soy sauce and a few shreds of sweet basil.

Noodle Broth

Cost: The cost of this broth is kept low because it contains only chicken stock and no meat. Indeed, the entire pot, which will feed four for lunch, should set one back no more than around £1.80.

94 replies on “Noodle Broth”

Beautiful pictures of it and it looks amazing (though with our current heatwave I’ll have to wait to try this). Your post reminds me of this older gentleman I used to work with who was from India. He would bring in this homemade spicy rice that was absolutely phenomenal but it had a whole huge list of all these different spices that his wife would get when they went over there (probably take quite some time to find all those spices here).

Sounds great, very simple.

Question for u – is “Oriental” the commonly used term in the UK? In US many frown upon it and prefer the term “Asian”. It was explained to me that “Orient” refers to the Middle East. Honestly, I’m Asian/Oriental and don’t care. Just fascinated in differences in terminology across countries.

In the UK, “Asian” refers to those of a more Indian/Pakistani sort of ethnic background. My understanding was that “oriental” typically is the term used for the more far eastern backgrounds like Chinese/Japanese/etc. it can be rather confusing for Americans as in the US we use different terms (I know I found these terms a bit frustrating at times when in the UK). Just remember that that American English and British English are much more different languages than most people realise.

“Oriental is a rug, not a people!” I don’t remember who said that. I always think of the Ottoman Empire when I think “Oriental.” Also, I just really like the word “Oriental.”

Nice post!
My perfect dinner bowl… one I make quite often, simply because it’s easy, cheap and healthy… what more can one ask for? The only difference would be the noodles… I indulge a bit and use a rich egg noodle 🙂

Just made this soup and the flavors are delish! Much needed since I’m feeling under the weather. Simple and I had everything on hand. Thanks so much! I used a rice vermicelli noodle which didn’t do the broth justice. I ended up dumping most of my noodles because it was getting in the way of me sipping on the broth.

Love the beautiful simplicity of your presentation in this post – it very much suits the delicious looking food. Great to see you’re including thyme too, I love to add ingredients from the garden to my oriental dishes.

I could eat noodles morning day and night…especially any noodle dishes from any Asian or South Asian country. Yummy…so now you have me drooling! Thankfully I live in an area where I have lots of options when I am unable to travel. Thanks.

Easy and delicious ! Luckily for me I live in Singapore so all the ingredients are very accessible 🙂 I also have the option of being able to buy but why would I when you can whip up a comforting bowl of noodle soup at home so quickly and cheaply ?

Very true I would never picture adding thyme and bay to an asian styled broth but now the idea is infront of me I can taste it and am excited by the idea! Beautiful photography as usual, makes me want to reach in and dip a spoon in! 🙂

Yum. Sounds good. I have a weakness for Chinese food (fast food) and would rather make something healthier at home. My goal this year has been to make more things homemade (and cheap if possible)! This is perfect! Thanks!

A delicious and flavourful dish. Asian broths are the love child of many a culture and vermecilli are a household staple for me. I love the use of the rice paper wraps too and how versatile the ingredients are in the rolls. Looks wonderful and yes frugality at it’s best.

Goodness… I make a similar soup but add chopped kale or spinach to the broth instead of rice noodles. There are other wonderful noodles from Asia that would work too, now that you’ve got my imagination going. I see a new future for the stock I make from my backyard chickens… Thanks for reminding us about frugality and simplicity in the kitchen.

Grinning from ear to ear… your post brings to mind the “international coffee creamers” marketed in the U.S. (of which nobody in those countries has ever heard) — or German chocolate cake (which natives of Germany simply refer to as “chocolate cake.”) Authenticity has taken artistic liberty in recent years. However, my taste buds aren’t complaining… 🙂

Thanks for liking my blog post. Your site has lovely photos and entertaining writing, i’m craving noodle soup now… well the next dinner XD I love frugal, hearty and delicious meals 🙂

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