Spicy Noodle Soup
Spicy Noodle Soup

Spicy Noodle Soup

But the underpinnings of this dish are pretty consistent: a well-flavoured stock, made hot, sour, savoury and aromatic with chilli, lemon or lime juice, soy, seaweed (sometimes), ginger and garlic (always). A few bashed makrut lime leaves will usually be part of the mix too, but that’s by no means essential.

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Total Time
45 Minutes
200g of fine wholegrain noodles, such as brown rice or buckwheat
1 tsp of sesame or vegetable oil, for the noodles
1 litre of vegetable stock (or homemade chicken or fish stock if you have some)
2 fat garlic cloves, cut into fine slivers
3cm piece of fresh ginger, grated or cut into very fine matchsticks
2 tsp of flaked seaweed, such as dulse or wakame, or mixed seaweed flakes (optional)
½–1 red chilli (the heat is up to you!), finely sliced, or a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
1–2 makrut lime leaves, bruised, or 1 lemongrass stem, bashed, or lemongrass trimmings (optional)
1 medium carrot, scrubbed or peeled and cut into matchsticks or very thin slices
1 medium kohlrabi or ½ daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks or very thin slices (optional)
3–4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 pak choi, sliced, or a good handful of spinach leaves, roughly chopped
Leftover meat or fish, tofu or a thin two-egg omelette
2 tbsp of tamari or soy sauce, plus extra (optional) to finish
Juice of 1 lime or ½ lemon, plus extra (optional) to finish
A pinch of soft light brown sugar
Sea salt and black pepper
Step 1

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, drain well, rinse thoroughly with cold water, and drain again. Toss with the 1 tsp of oil and keep ready.

Step 2

Put the stock, garlic, ginger, seaweed if using, and the chilli (fresh or dried) into a large pan. Add the lime leaves or lemongrass if you have either. Bring to a simmer, then add the carrot, and kohlrabi or daikon if using, and return to a simmer. Cook for a minute then add the spring onions, and sliced pak choi if using. Bring back to a simmer and cook for a minute to just soften the pak choi stems.

Step 3

If using spinach, add the leaves at this point, to wilt. You can leave the soup as it is or stir in one of the extras below, prepped while the soup is cooking.

Step 4

Give the extras a minute or so to heat through, then take off the heat. Stir in the tamari/soy, lime or lemon juice, sugar and some salt and pepper. Transfer a ladleful of the broth to a small bowl and taste – it should be hot, sour and aromatic. Add more chilli, tamari/soy, salt and/or lime or lemon juice to taste, as needed.

Step 5

Divide the noodles between warmed soup bowls and ladle over the hot soup. Serve at once with chopsticks and/or spoons.


Meat: Scraps of chicken, pork or beef can be dropped straight in, or crisped in a frying pan first – in which case seasoning them with a little chopped garlic and chilli, and a pinch of salt, will add to their impact.

Fish: Add flakes of cooked fish, or small slices of raw fish that will cook through in just a minute or two. You can use fish stock (as above) if you’re going to add fish, but it’s not vital.

Eggs: Make a simple thin two-egg omelette, seasoned with pepper or a pinch of dried chilli flakes and a dash of soy sauce. Cook until firm, leave to cool then cut into 1–2cm strips.

Tofu: Cut 100g tofu into small cubes and fry until golden and crisp. Finish with toasted sesame seeds and a trickle of toasted sesame oil.


Spicy coconut noodle soup: Just replace 400ml of the stock with a 400ml tin of coconut milk. Add any of the above extras and finish with extra lemon or lime juice to cut the richness.

River Cottage Good Comfort by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Published by Bloomsbury on 15 September 2022 (£27.00 RRP, Hardback)

Photography © Simon Wheeler

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