My early memories of ramen noodles are hazy at best. I vaguely remember eating them once with my sister when I was a kid, but we mixed in the seasoning packet and drained the liquid, eating only the seasoned noodles. I remember not liking it very much. (Wonder why.)
Later, my friend’s mom would make an Asian coleslaw recipe that I still think about to this day. It had cabbage, carrots, a zingy Asian dressing, and uncooked ramen noodles crunched up throughout. The dry noodles lent a weirdly addictive crunch to the slaw, and as they sat in the dressing, they would start to soften up and blend with the cabbage. Chrissy Teigen has a similar recipe in her first cookbook, Cravings, but I’m not sure anyone (even Chrissy herself) will ever be able to top Mrs. Dolan’s OG Asian coleslaw.
After high school, though, ramen and I parted ways for a while. I didn’t even realize that ramen was a real, actual food that didn’t come out of a packet until embarrassingly late in life. And THEN. Oh, then. Then I went to a ramen shop that changed my perspective on ramen forever.
Kyle and I got giant bowls of tonkotsu ramen, which is a silky smooth concoction comprised of slow-roasted pork, hand-pulled noodles, and the most ridiculously delicious, salty, porky broth. I don’t eat pork products 99% of the time, but I make an exception for tonkotsu ramen.
If I could, I’d probably eat tonkotsu ramen for dinner every day for the rest of my life. The only problems are that a) one bowl costs like $11, which is far more than my daily dinner budget should be, and b) I’m pretty sure my intestines would explode if I continued eating 3000% of my daily value of sodium every single day.
So, in order to avoid budget breaks or intestinal explosions, I set out to make my own healthier version at home. I had a few requirements:
- It had to be good for me, because while tonkotsu ramen is good for the soul, it’s not too good for the rest of you.
- It had to include lots and lots of vegetables, because vegetables.
- It still had to have a savory, silky, delicious broth without all the sodium.
The broth starts with the key to creating savory, umami flavor without meat: a big ol’ handful of shiitake mushrooms. Use fresh, not dried, as they’ll lend a more subtle flavor.
Slice ’em up and saute them with ginger, garlic, and scallions: the holy trifecta of Asian cooking. Add in some vegetable stock, soy sauce, and rice vinegar, then simmer away until all those delicious flavors are incorporated into a gorgeous, craveable broth!
All that’s left to do is boil a couple eggs (six and a half minutes = the perfect jammy ramen egg), cook up some ramen noodles (I use packets of Maruchan because they’re 25 cents, but if you want this to be even more delicious, you can hunt down fresh noodles at your local Asian grocer), and slice up some veggies. I used carrots, bell pepper, and kale here, but I’ve also had success with broccoli, bok choy, and even spinach. Feel free to customize, as most veggies will work here!
Serve up the cooked noodles between two bowls, ladle the broth over (don’t forget to scoop up some mushrooms too!), and add all your toppings. I also like a hefty dollop of chili paste, but if you’re spice-averse, feel free to skip it.
And then all that’s left to do is schlurp it up. I mean, seriously, get in there with your chopsticks and SCHLURP AWAY with reckless abandon. And please, please promise me you’ll never eat Cup Noodles again. Don’t do your body like that. I guarantee you’ll love this ramen so much more. I love it more than tonkotsu ramen, and that’s saying something.Print
Easy Vegetarian Ramen
This ramen comes together in 30 minutes or less and is so much healthier than packaged instant noodles! The broth is simmered with shiitake mushrooms and aromatics, making it savory, rich, and absolutely craveable.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 2 servings 1x
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil, (or other neutral oil)
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, (sliced)
- 3 green onions, (sliced on the bias, white and green parts separated)
- 2-inch knob fresh ginger, (grated)
- 3–4 garlic cloves, (minced)
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 packages instant ramen noodles (like Maruchan or Top Ramen), (seasoning packets discarded)
- 1/2 cup chopped kale, (or other greens)
- 1/2 large bell pepper, (thinly sliced)
- 1 large carrot, (peeled into ribbons)
- Optional: chili garlic sauce, (for topping (I use Sambal Oelek))
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Gently lower in eggs and boil for exactly 6 1/2 minutes. Transfer eggs into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, then drain the water. Keep the pot out, though, because you’ll cook your noodles in it later.
- Heat grapeseed oil and sesame oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shiitake mushrooms, the white and light green parts of the green onions, grated ginger, and minced garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add vegetable stock, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes while you prep your vegetables and peel your eggs.
- When the broth is nearly done simmering, fill the pot you used to boil the eggs with fresh water. Bring to a boil, drop in your noodles, and cook according to the package directions (I used Maruchan and cooked mine for 3 minutes). While the noodles are cooking, halve the soft-boiled eggs.
- Divide the cooked noodles between two large bowls. Ladle the broth over the noodles, then top each bowl with kale, bell pepper, carrot, halved eggs, chili garlic sauce (if using), and the green parts of the green onions. Eat with chopsticks, and don’t forget to drink your broth!