Take that, swine flu! Comforting duck noodle soup

It’s the cardinal rule: thou shalt not blog about work. And so I shan’t, except to say that for reasons best left unelaborated, I’ve spent the last week or so hearing an awful lot about Swine Flu; a very bad state of affairs for a certified hypochondriac such as myself. That being the case, I’m sure you can imagine how I reacted when Bench revealed to me on Monday that he was feeling a bit, shall we say, under the weather. That’s right. SWINE FLU*. Cue the sirens and the respiratory mask.

Duck soup!

*Note: Bench does not have swine flu.

After my hysteria subsided, I decided that the best thing I could contribute to the situation was soup, for both our sakes. Specifically, duck noodle soup. Conveniently, I still had the remains of the duck from the Cherryaki duck experiment kicking it in my freezer; I also had a lot of fresh scallions, some star anise, some udon noodles, and a long-standing desire to replicate the rich, delicious duck soup from Q2 thai in midtown. All I needed was a reason, and here it was: Bench was sick, and I needed to come up with A Project to keep from hovering and making it worse. Win win!

Udon 2

I’ll say this now: this is a little time consuming if you haven’t planned ahead–i.e., made your own/procured ready-made duck stock in advance. Though building the stock is ludicrously easy, you do need to devote the time. If you do have the stock on hand (and I recommend whipping up a vat of it some rainy sunday; it’s easy, and requires little to no attention as it simmers away), the whole business takes about ten minutes to put together.

Delicious, and a decent antidote to a Swine Flu Scare.

Delicious duck udon soup

Duck stock:

Bones and scraps of 1-2 ducks (perhaps leftover from your experiment with Cherryaki duck)
Enough water to cover in the largest pot you have
4-5 cinnamon sticks
6-7 star anise
2 tsp whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2-3 scallions, roughly chopped

  1. Put everything in your largest pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Allow to boil for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Simmer for as long as your patience will allow–at least 2 hours–skimming off any foam or scum periodically.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
  5. Freeze into cubes–very convenient when you just want to throw them into a dish for extra flavor.

The soup:
1 qt duck stock (if you don’t have time to make it, that’s cool–you may be able to get it at the store, or from your butcher. If you use prepared stock, add 4-5 cinnamon sticks, 6-7 star anise, and 2 tsp whole cloves to the pot as you build the rest of the soup)
3-4 scallions, sliced fine and divided
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-inch knob of ginger, grated
2 tsp fish sauce
3-4 tsp soy sauce (to taste, really)

8 oz udon noodles
Firm tofu, cubed (optional: you can marinate it in soy sauce for a while and then bake or saute it; really, just prepare it however you like it best)

  1. Make the broth: whack all the broth ingredients in a pan (reserving half the scallions for crunchy garnish); bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for at least a half hour; top up with water or chicken stock if it starts to reduce too much. When you’re ready to use it, strain it to remove the spices and anything else that might get in your way.
  2. Prepare udon noodles according to package instructions.
  3. Combine noodles, broth, tofu, and remaining scallions.
  4. Distribute among two bowls.
  5. Chase those rainy blues away.
In asian, duck, ducks, soup

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