Bowls of Chinese noodle soup are comforting, warming, easy to make, and are often one pot meals. They’re also a great way to use up leftovers, because you can use any combination of protein and/or vegetables that you like or happen to have on hand. I’ve provided guidelines for making Chinese noodle soup and suggested some popular topping combinations below.
How to Make Chinese Noodle Soups
To make a Chinese noodle soup, you need to select the soup base (broth), noodles, and toppings. Here are some suggestions for each of those components.
You could use:
- canned Chinese “clear” chicken broth (do not substitute with Western style chicken broth)
- homemade or store bought fish broth (see recipe here)
- homemade or store bought beef broth
- homemade or store bought vegetable broth
- for a Japanese variation, use dashi or miso soup (see recipe here)
- combination of any store bought broth and water to reduce the sodium in your soup, if desired
You could use fresh or dried:
- rice vermicelli (thick or thin) as shown in the photo below
- flat rice noodles thick or thin)
- egg noodles (thick or thin)
- yet ca mein
- cellophane noodles
- for a Korean variation, use glass or arrowroot noodles
- for a Japanese variation, use udon or soba noodles
You can use any protein and/or vegetable combination that you like. This is a great way to use up leftovers. Here are just some suggestions:
- Protein: wontons, dumplings, tofu (silken or fried), fresh or dried shrimp, Chinese fish paste, Japanese or Korean fish cakes, Chinese fish/squid/pork/beef balls, boneless skinless shredded or bite sized chicken, curry chicken or beef, braised beef brisket and/or tendons (see recipes here and here), satay beef, tripe, Chinese BBQ pork (see recipe here), Chinese roasted pork belly (see recipe here), pan or deep fried pork chop, shredded or minced pork, etc.
- Vegetables: bean sprouts, pea shoots or sprouts, cremini or white button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, king oyster mushrooms, Chinese mushrooms (i.e. shiitake or canned straw mushrooms), Japanese mushrooms (i.e. enoki, maitake, shimeji, or matsutake), lettuce (green or red), spinach, daikon radish, fresh corn or canned baby corn, Chinese vegetables (i.e. baby bok choy, Shanghai bok choy, A choy, Chinese broccoli, Chinese spinach, Chinese lettuce, napa cabbage), etc.
- Condiments and Herbs: fresh cilantro, green onions, pickled cabbage, preserved turnip, deep fried garlic, deep fried onions, Chinese red vinegar, soy sauce, dried red chili flakes, hot sauce or chili paste, Korean kimchi, ground white pepper, toasted sesame oil, etc.
Here are just a few popular noodle soup combinations:
- Chinese chicken broth, thin egg noodles, wontons, and lettuce/Chinese broccoli/Chinese spinach served with Chinese red vinegar on the side
- Chinese chicken broth, thin rice vermicelli, boneless skinless chicken thigh pieces, pickled cabbage, and ground white pepper (see my family’s go to recipe here)
- Chinese chicken broth, flat rice noodles, Chinese fish balls, lettuce, green onions, and ground white pepper
- Beef broth, rice vermicelli, and satay beef
- Beef broth, thin egg noodles, braised beef brisket and/or tendons with daikon radish or Chinese spinach
- Fish broth, rice vermicelli, Chinese fish paste, fresh cilantro, and ground white pepper
- Fish broth, thick rice vermicelli, fresh shrimp, silken tofu, enoki mushrooms, napa cabbage, and ground white pepper
- Shrimp noodles in its own cooking water, pacific clams, and Chinese broccoli (see recipe here).
Chinese Noodle Soup Recipe
approximately 1 1/2 cups of broth per person (canned Chinese clear chicken broth, homemade or store bought beef, fish, or vegetable broth)
fresh or dried noodles of your choice
Protein topping(s) (meat, seafood, or soy based product) of your choice
Vegetable topping(s) of your choice
Condiments and/or herbs of your choice
Garnish of your choice (i.e. green onions, toasted sesame oil)
ground white pepper
In a large pot over high heat, bring water to a boil. Add the dried noodles and cook until al dente as per the package directions. Do not overcook, as the noodles will continue to cook as they rest and as they soak in the hot soup, Then drain the noodles and set aside. Return the empty pot to the stove top and add the broth. You can dilute the broth with some water if desired. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat. Then add the protein and vegetable toppings. (Note: If you are using toppings that need to be prepared and cooked separately (i.e. wontons, dumplings, braised or satay beef, pork chops, BBQ pork), then place those toppings on top of your noodle soup bowls at the end.) Bring the soup back to a boil, covered, and then stir until everything is well combined, the meats are just cooked through, and the vegetables are soft but still crisp. This will not take long, so be careful not to overcook the toppings. (Note: If you are using protein that needs more time to cook than the vegetables, or if you are using vegetables that do not need long to cook (i.e. lettuce, bean sprouts, pea shoots, or spinach), then add the protein first, bring it to a boil, then add the vegetables and bring it back to a boil again.)
Stir in any condiments and/or herbs that you are using, and remove from heat. Separate the cooked noodles into large bowls for serving. Ladle the soup with toppings into each of the bowls. Top with any toppings that were cooked separately. Add garnish (if using), add a dash or two of ground white pepper, and serve immediately.