This is a lightweight vegan soup that seems right for the season.
Serve with seaweed salad on the side or slices of avocado with sesame dressing. Adapted from “Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way” by Chloe Coscarelli (Free Press, 2012).
3 ounces dried udon noodles
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
2 small cloves garlic
1/4 small jalapeno pepper (optional)
1-inch piece ginger root
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth
2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup roasted unsalted cashews, for garnish
Few stems cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of the salt, then add the udon noodles and cook according to the package directions (about 6 minutes). Drain in a colander.
Meanwhile, discard the mushroom stems. Cut the caps into thin slices. Trim the scallions, then cut the white and light-green parts crosswise into 2-inch pieces, then lengthwise into thin slices.
Mince the garlic. Stem, seed, then mince the jalapeno, if desired. Peel the ginger, then finely grate it.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and scallions and cook for about 4 minutes (still al dente), stirring, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno, if using, and the cayenne pepper. Cook for a few minutes, stirring to incorporate.
Add the broth; once it comes to a boil, add the cooked noodles. Reduce the heat to low; cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Uncover and stir in the vinegar and toasted sesame oil. Taste, and add salt as needed.
Coarsely chop the cashews. Divide the soup between individual bowls. Garnish with the cashews and cilantro leaves, if using. Serve hot.
Nutrition per serving: 290 calories, 8g protein, 37g carbohydrates, 13g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 810mg sodium, 3g dietary fiber, 7g sugar.