Here is my first attempt at making diet food for this Biggest Loser challenge my husband has joined. I found this recipe in the January edition of Bon Appetit. The original recipe called for Sichuan peppercorns, mustard greens and rice noodles and I didn’t have any of these items. Thus, I decided to forage in my pantry to see what alternatives I had for these critical ingredients. Fortunately, I had a beautiful bunch of swiss chard, pequin peppers, and udon noodles. I figured they were close enough and began cooking.
I like the taste of spicy food – I also find it makes me feel full longer – but if you don’t want to use pequin peppers, feel free to alter this recipe to your tastes. Also, I personally feel that any good pasta would work for this soup, so don’t let the Asian noodle concept keep you from making this recipe. Finally, the first time I cooked this dish we left the noodles long, which made the soup difficult to eat. Simply breaking the noodles into 2-3 inch lengths made a huge difference to our dining experience.
This dish is ridiculously easy, cheap, and now one of my husband’s favorites. So far he has lost 2 pounds and I am taking credit for a lot of it, thank you. Me and my soup. Guess that means it is a definite Do Again. Let me know what you think of it! Of course, I have only lost 1 pound so . . . oh well.
** Helpful hint for mincing the ginger and garlic at the end of the recipe. Check it out, it will make your life much easier!
- 1 small bunch udon noodles, broken into pieces
- ½ lb. ground pork
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
- 3 tsp. peeled, smashed and minced fresh ginger
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1-2 pequin peppers, crushed, or ¾ crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp cumin seeds, coarsely chopped, or ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 bunch – four stalks of swiss chard, leaves removed from stalks and chopped (about 4 cups)
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tsp Thai fish sauce
- 1-2 pequin peppers, crushed – if you like real spicy food like me!
Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Mix the pork, garlic, ginger, black pepper, hot peppers and cumin seeds into a medium sized bowl and mix together with your hands. Pour the olive oil into a medium saucepan and heat over a medium flame. Place the pork mixture into the skillet and brown the meat stirring occasionally to break it up into small pieces.
Add the chicken broth into the pot with the meat mixture and simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Then place the chopped swiss chard leaves, scallions, soy sauce, fish sauce and peppers in the broth and cook over a medium heat until the chard has wilted.
Place cooked noodles in the bottom of a soup bowl and pour the soup over.
When I need to mince ginger for recipes, I trim off the skin and slice it into thin discs – about the thickness of a quarter. Then I lay the disks on my cutting board and place my chef’s knife with the flat side facing down (see picture) covering the slice completely. I then slam my palm onto the top of the knife. This smashes the ginger (once again, see photo) and makes it crazy easy to mince. This technique can also be used to smash garlic as well.