Garden chard, you fought the good fight. You survived slug infestations, heat, frost, and your bed being used for walnut storage by squirrels. But I see where you’re headed, with your wilty stems and pallid leaves, and you don’t deserve to go that way. Which is why I’m harvesting you—all that’s left of you, anyway—to be honored in this addictive ramen-style soup.
The recipe was adapted from one by David Chang by way of Food & Wine magazine. As listed here, it makes 3 generous servings. However, be forewarned it’s somewhat traumatizing when it runs out, so if you’re without shame and untroubled by budgetary concerns, you may want to consider doubling it.
1/2 a sheet of dried kombu: 15 cents
2.5 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms (as you can see at left, it helps if they’re natural AND dainty): $1.78
1 cup flour: 7 cents
1/4 cup soy sauce: 10 cents
2 T mirin: 10 cents
1/2 lb. chard (half from garden*, half purchased): 30 cents
2 tsp honey for drizzling: 10 cents
Salt to taste: 1 cent
(Kimchi as a garnish if you have some sitting around. Right now, we do not.)
TOTAL: $2.51/3: 84 cents/serving
*You may wonder why I count garden produce as $0. The primary reason for this is that I never buy starts or sets. I always grow from seeds, most of which were obtained from seed exchanges or given to me as gifts. The seed packets I do purchase myself were usually on sale and end up lasting me several years. (I’ve still had seeds sprout nearly 5 years after the “packed for” date.) As for the cost of water, we live in Portland, where watering is only an issue for two months at the very maximum. The cost addition is incalculably small.
Add the kombu and 7 cups of water to a soup pot, bring to a simmer and reduce to low heat. Heat for 30 minutes; you should not see any bubbles coming to the top. Don’t ever boil kombu for more than a couple of minutes; the broth will become slimy and develop off-flavors.
Separate 1.5 ounces of the dried mushrooms and pulverize to a powder in a food processor. You could use fresh mushrooms in place of the ones that aren’t pulverized, but in terms of flavor I prefer dried.
Meanwhile, add 1 cup all-purpose flour to a bowl, and add just enough water to form a cohesive dough (between 1/3 and 2/3 of a cup, depending on how dry or old your flour is). Remove from the bowl and knead in quarter turns on a flour-dusted surface until it becomes a smooth, elastic ball, between 6 and 8 minutes.
After the kombu is done, remove it and bring the broth to a boil. Add the mushroom powder, stir well, and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, and let steep 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse the chard and and tear the leaves into small pieces. When the broth is done steeping, strain it into a large bowl, rinse out the pot, and pour the broth back in. Add the soy sauce and mirin and bring to a boil. Add the chard and stir just until cooked. Salt to taste (the noodles will absorb some of the salt, so don’t be afraid to season liberally.) Keep warm.
Meanwhile, roll the dough out on a flour-dusted counter (or a very large flour-dusted cutting board) with a flour-dusted rolling pin until about 1/8 inch thick. With a knife or pastry wheel, cut into uneven strips.
Bring the soup back to a boil and add the noodles. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the noodles are cooked and the soup has thickened somewaht. If it looks like it’s thickening a bit too much, add some water.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with the honey and garnish with optional kimchi.