Spicy Soup Noodles

Hello, my darling readers. Hope you’ve been well?  Here on the East coast, we’re enjoying the first of the season’s snowfall – everything dusted in white, with those last little hints of yellows and rusts peaking through. I’ve been enjoying the snugness of it all, the quiet, that blissfully cozy feeling one gets seeing the snow falling through the window. Mostly, though,  I’m just enjoying being somewhere other than in bed,  after being down all week with the most horrible flu bug known to humanity.

It all started Tuesday with a little sniffle and a scratch in my throat. I took my Echinacea, had some tea and went to bed early, like a good girl. Skip ahead to 3:30 that morning, where you find me shivering so badly that my teeth are actually chattering in my head, tossing back and forth, and moaning incoherently. This was just the beginning.  Soon after, the nausea set in, followed by the inevitable next step in this sequence. When that was over, the full on body ache began. I never got out of bed that day once, if you can believe it.

The worst thing about this flu, was that at the end of the day, I’d start to feel better. I’d think, “hey I bet tomorrow I’ll be able to go back to work.” But this flu had other things in mind. Each day, I’d awake with some horrible new affliction – completely different from what I’d suffered the day before, but just as awful. From nausea, aches and pains and chills, I went to can’t even swallow it hurts so bad sore throat. Then came the runny nose, the cough, the feeling as though my head was several hundred feet below sea level. And finally, just to really go out with a bang, I woke up on Friday with pink eye. Yes, pink eye. 

Today  I’m just happy to being sitting up, feeling mostly normal, able to see and not looking like the living dead. The snow is an added bonus to all of this, so I’m feeling pretty spoiled at the moment. Goodness,  it’s nice not to feel awful!

Anyhow, when my appetite came back this morning (and with a vengeance, I might add), I had visions of noodle soup fill my head. Back when I lived in Seattle, there was the most delicious little Asian restaurant down the street from us, The Teapot Vegetarian House. They had a dish called  “soup noodles” – which was more or less like chicken noodle soup (sans the chicken) with a spicy Asian flair to it. Soooo good. Whenever I was sick, I’d crawl out of bed and drag myself there in rain or shine, and I think this soup saved my life many a time.

So, naturally, whenever I find myself under the weather, I crave those noodles like you wouldn’t believe. But having no Teapot round the corner to go to, I’ve had to figure out how to make my own. It isn’t hard to do at all, just requires some chopping, some boiling of water, and you’re done. But I tell you, once you’ve got a little of this inside you, you know you’re on the road to recovery.

Before I share my recipe with you, however, I just want to share a few of my strategies for getting better quick – as they are so fresh in my mind!  This is just a quick summary, and if you’d like to read more  detail, or learn more tips about surviving cold and flu season, I’d suggest you visit my post on the matter: fending of winter illness. In short, here are my tips:

  • Drink as much fluid as you can, preferably hot. Hot water with lemon; a vegetable or meat stock with a little miso; your favorite cold and flu tea. The body gets dehydrated easily due to higher body temperatures, so replenishing those fluids is paramount, as is replenishing electrolytes and nutrients. The extra fluids help to remove waste products from the body as well, boosting your recovery rate. (I make a tea called Breathe which I drink gallons of this time of year.)
  • Take hot baths (or showers). Baths are nice in a variety of ways when your feeling less than great – they warm the body and facilitate the immune system; enhance circulation – helping to relax stiff, achy muscles; support lymphatic movement which helps to clean up the site of infection; and the hot steam helps to break through congestion and soothe irritation. A nice hot bath is also just the thing for promoting my next tip.
  • Sleep. Your immune system works far better when you’re asleep than when awake. So if you feel drowsy, don’t fight it. Tuck yourself in and rest away, and you’ll be going a long way towards helping your body recover.
  • Eat soup. There simply isn’t any better food for when you’re unwell. Fluid, soothing warmth and nourishment all in one. Everybody feels better after a bowl of soup. (But no cream soups here – stick to brothy soups loaded with vegetables and small amounts of protein from meat or legumes). 

 Spicy Soup Noodles

As a note, you’ll want to keep any left over noodles separate from your soup. Otherwise, they will get mushy when you reheat.  By all means, eat this also when you’re feeling well, especially on a chilly day.  Serves 2-4, depending on portion sizes. 

  • 1 package soba or udon noodles (I used buckwheat soba)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 -3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or to taste)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced (or to taste)
  • 1 hot red chile pepper, deseeded and minced (or 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chile flakes)
  • 1 bunch scallions, ends trimmed off and sliced on the diagonal into thin strips
  • 8 – 10 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium or 2 small carrots, either thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks
  • 1 medium head of pok choi, sliced into thin shreds
  • 1/4 head of green cabbage, sliced into thin shreds
  • 6 oz tofu, lightly pan-fried or leftover chicken or pork, shredded (optional)
  • 1 quart of stock: vegetable, chicken or beef
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

To serve (optional):

  • Lime wedges
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • more fresh scallions or sliced red chile

Place a pot of water on high heat for the noodles. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium sauce pan and then add your garlic, ginger and chile pepper. Stir frequently to prevent sticking, for about 1 minute, then add the scallions and heat for a minute more. Add the carrots, mushrooms and stock, and bring to  a boil before reducing to a gentle simmer. Simmer for no more than 10 minutes, then add the greens and soy sauce and taste for flavor. 

Cook the noodles according to package instructions, then drain and rinse under cool water.  Place a heap of noodles into each bowl, top with a good ladleful of soup, making sure you get plenty of broth and veg, and serve with whatever toppings you choose. 


  1. yummy! Oh Danielle, I am sorry you got hit so hard! ugh. I keep thinking “How on earth did *she* of all people, get *that*?!” I’m so, so glad you are up and on the mend. (and…I’m sure you know this but self-expectations are always higher than with others. Remember, recovery from such an ordeal, especially from the physical loss during fever, can tank a long time, so if you feel pooped quickly remember it’s not you, you’re body is rebuilding.) {hugs} Carey

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hi Carey,
      Thanks for your hugs, and for your very good reminder. It’s easy to want to go rushing about and resume life right away, but it does take some time to fully recover – so I will be gentle with myself 🙂 My immune system has always been my weakest link, and if I forget to have my astragalus and such (whoops), I almost always get hammered by late fall.

      Anyhow, hope you’re well and enjoyed the little bit of snow!

      • You’ve had quite an eventful year too, Danielle…it’s so easy to forget to mother ourselves when we feel our energy and attention is honor-bound elsewhere.

        And…I forgot. Thank you for spending your energy writing out this long recipe post for us. You have completely saved my post-trick or-treat meal dilemma. (Its been weighing so heavily on my mind for three days) something quick, nourishing, that son will like it and gulp down, filling, with veg., and now since the freezing weather! it needed to be warming. This has met all of those criteria and I am saved, *saved* I tell you!



    • So glad I could be of service! Happy Halloween and tell your trick-or-treater to have lots of fun for me 🙂


  2. Mmmm, sounds really good. I remember eating something like this in Japan when I had flu. I think it’s the spices that do the trick! I’ll remember this for if we get sick this winter. Get well soon!

    • Hi Cathy,

      Yes the spices really do wonders, don’t they? Whenever I’m sick I stuff as much ginger, garlic and chile into me as I can – my body just craves it! Well hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy the soup without you or your family being sick at all!!


  3. Laurie Nemchak says:

    Glad your feeling better! I am so enjoying your blog. I work at the hospital with Deb, here is northern Michigan, and she told me about your blog. Thank you for your thoughts- I connect so deeply with much that you write. When I get a notification that something new has been posted- I hurry here to see what you have to share. Keep up the good work. Also- love, love, love “tastespotting” and “etsy” wouldn’t have known of them otherwise.

    • Laurie,

      Your comment is so kind and heart warming, it always means a lot to me to know that someone is enjoying my little ramblings – human nature – I always love to be praised 🙂 I’m also so glad that you’ve found tastespotting and etsy through the blog – I think I could waste away whole days on those sites!

      Thanks so much for your comment – I will treasure it!
      XOXO D

  4. Oh my that soup looks good! I’m so glad you are feeling better after such a horrendous week.
    I can’t believe you have snow already! It looks so beautiful there and your pictures as always are so evocative. I love that first one of the squashes.
    Take very good care of yourself and don’t forget to follow all your own good advice and get plenty of rest and relaxation. 🙂
    Lots of love xxx

    • We usually get our first dusting about now – but further South I hear they got fairly dumped on – which is quite unusual! I hear that some places got almost 3 feet!
      I hope your weather is still lingering more in the autumn side of things. I will try very hard to take my advice – I usually don’t need too much incentive to sleep, take baths or eat soup 🙂


  5. Hi Danielle,

    Poor you….flu is awful. I do so hope that you will be fit and well soonest.
    The soup looks delicious. I had something very similar when I was in Thailand. I made it myself but not for a long time. Tku for the reminder….. just how good it is.

    Snow…..brrrrrr….no thank you, not yet anyway :0)

    • Hi Cheryl,

      Fortunately it melted away by afternoon – very pretty to see in the morning, but I was relieved also to see it disappear again 🙂 Oh I bet the soup you had in Thailand was divine! I love Thai food but I’ve never been there (not yet at least). Perhaps you’ll have to share your recipe too!!


  6. Love your photos on this one, Danielle. Beautiful composition and light–really captured the tone of the day. The snow is melty on our side of the mountain, too and I am just waiting for a few more degrees of warmth to continue my *late* perennial placements. Racing snow spirits is not recommended [note to self].

    Enjoy the day of thin veil and sunshine.


    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hi Larken,
      The light was so beautiful that day, wasn’it it? It just was asking to be photographed! I think its going to warm up a little this week, so it looks as though the snow spirits will be nice and give you a little time for your last minute plantings 🙂


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