garlic pepper soba with chili-roasted tofu + my vegetable stock method

garlic pepper soba w/ chili-roasted tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!garlic pepper soba w/ chili-roasted tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!my vegetable stock process // @thefirstmesspin it!bay leaves // @thefirstmesspin it!herbs tied up // @thefirstmesspin it!my vegetable stock process // @thefirstmesspin it!

If you can believe it, this bowl was inspired by a packet of instant ramen we picked up at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago (along with some non-dairy, non-denominational holiday nog). The flavour pouch from that crinkly package with the crimp-y noodles was really good at providing a top note of salty. There’s a certain appeal to that for sure, but I knew I could do better with some noodles swimming in homemade broth. I have a couple methods for making delicious, hearty vegetable stock/broth, but the one I’m going to share here today is my most utilized for sure. It’s also the most versatile. Then, we’re going to salt that broth, pour it over soba noodles, puréed garlic and thin wisps of lacinato kale. We’ll top it all off with chili-roasted tofu, some sliced scallions, lots of black pepper, and lime juice.

I don’t want to wander into the territory of utter preciousness talking about vegetable stock, but my method is pretty exact and I stand by it. I’ve read a few things on the internet that go along the lines of: “Just save all of your vegetable scraps in a Ziploc, freeze it for now and then dump those trimmings into a pot of boiling water when you’re ready for soup. ” I would not encourage this strategy. Good stock can become the base/backbone of soups, sauces, risottos etc. You can just sip it too! I would never utilize true scraps unless I wanted my food to taste like concentrated, simmered down waste bits. Sometimes I have half an onion in the fridge, a couple rubbery carrots, and I do save leek tops for stock-making as a general rule, but these are selective additions that are only scrap-like.

My point is that there is a certain advantageous vegetable combination to aim for when you’re making stock, and I would definitely recommend sticking to it for maximum diversity in usage. This is the closest I’ll ever get to being absolutist in terms of a food. You wanna make pizza crust with cauliflower? Yes, go for it. I’m fine with calling that pizza. Tiny bits of vegetables fronting as rice? Sure. Let’s even call it pilaf if we mix it with something. Vegan mayonnaise? Without eggs?! YES TOTALLY. Stock though? I refuse to mess around with that. Building blocks, dude.

The base of mine is onions, carrots and celery. Of that base, fifty percent should be onions with the papery skin left on (mostly for colour), followed by equal parts carrots and celery to form the whole. From there, I use leeks (white + green parts), a parsnip if I have one, smashed garlic cloves, black peppercorns, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, parsley stems, and maybe a fresh dill stem or two if I have them (but I mostly do this because Ina does it too). (also this) With the parsley and optional dill, you’re only adding the stems. The leaves of both have too much chlorophyll (normally the best thing ever), which will only contribute a damp, funky taste over time. A few black peppercorns and that’s the end of that. I don’t salt the stock because I know I’m going to be liberal on that front with whatever food I’m adding it to.

The onions get a good 7-8 minute browning for extra depth of flavour before the other vegetables are added. I drop everything else in one by one, sautéing for a good 20 minutes before any filtered water is added. Also, filtered water is important because consuming chlorine is never cool in my books. I simmer the whole works for an hour maximum. I know with meatier broths, the longer you can simmer it the better. But I don’t find vegetable-based broths really benefit from extra time, which is perfect because we want soup, like, yesterday. I make broths with shiitake mushrooms and ginger if I’m feeling kinda meh. Or ones with lots of different mushrooms, shallots, star anise, and a bit of tamari to season if I want something with extra heft. But this one that I’ve outlined above and below is the go-to. I hope it can be yours too.

And these noodles! Once you have the broth, you’re in business. Just an easy, slurp-y bowl of noodle soup with lots of feel-good ingredients. Quick, nourishing comfort for full days. Although these particular noodles aren’t gluten free, they’re easily my favourite ones to use. My favourite cooking method for tofu is roasting because the pieces get kind of crunchy/crisp-like, making a nice foil to the softer parts of this bowl. I slice kale thin, grate fresh garlic and grind tons of pepper into the bowls before pouring the hot, salted broth in and giving it all a stir. Deep immune power! You could make this your own in a number of ways: fine shreds of different vegetables, rice noodles, little dabs of miso dissolved in the broth, some chopped cilantro, cooked beans, or whatever you have on hand honestly. Just make sure your broth game is lined up first :)

my vegetable stock process // @thefirstmesspin it!tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!garlic pepper soba w/ chili-roasted tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!garlic pepper soba w/ chili-roasted tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!
garlic pepper soba with chili-roasted tofu + kale recipe (+ my vegetable stock method)
print the recipe (for noodles) here! // print separate vegetable stock instructions here
serves: 2 (with extra broth)
notes: As noted above, this recipe is fairly customizable just so long as you shred any additional vegetables fine enough to “cook” upon contact with the hot broth. Also, check the label of your soba noodles to ensure there is no presence of wheat if gluten is an issue. If you have a tofu press, using it prior to roasting the tofu would make for a nice, chewy texture.

stock ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium cooking onions, rough diced (with skin left on)
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and rough diced
2 stalks of celery, scrubbed and rough diced
1 large leek, cut lengthwise down the center
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed lightly
5-6 sprigs of thyme
3-4 parsley stems
3 bay leaves
6-7 whole black peppercorns
2 litres/8 cups filtered water

soba + chili-roasted tofu ingredients:
1/2 block firm-extra firm tofu, dried off with a paper towel
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chili flakes
zest of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp lime juice
salt + pepper
2 servings-worth of dry soba noodles (as noted above, I use these ones–seek out a GF brand or use rice noodles for a GF alternative)
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4-5 leaves of lacinato kale, thinly sliced
salt + lots of black pepper
lime wedges + extra chili flakes

For the stock: heat the oil in a large stock/soup pot over medium heat. Add the rough diced onions and sauté until you start to see deep brown marks on some of the sides, about 7-8 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté another 4-5 minutes, or until the edges seem a bit softer. Add the rough diced celery and stir.

Run the split leek under water to remove any grit, then chop it roughly and add it to the pot along with the smashed garlic cloves. Stir the vegetables until the leeks are bright, bright green and noticeably softer, about 4 minutes. Add the thyme sprigs, parsley stems, bay leaves and black peppercorns to the pot and stir. Add a good splash of water and loosen up some of the brown bits in the pot with your spoon.

Slowly pour the filtered water over the vegetables. Raise the heat to medium-high and cover the pot. Bring the stock to a boil, remove the lid, and then simmer stock for about an hour.

Allow stock to cool slightly before straining and storing in containers. Stock will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days and in the freezer for 6 months.

For the soba with chili-roasted tofu: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a small baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Once you’ve dried off the tofu, cut it into 3/4 inch cubes and place the cubes on the parchment lined sheet. Drizzle tofu with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil and top with the chili flakes, lime zest, salt, pepper and lime juice. Toss to combine and slide the tray into the oven. Roast tofu until brown edges appear and there’s a detectable crispy-ness, about 25 minutes. Flip and toss the tofu cubes about halfway through.

Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Once cooked, drain noodles and set aside.

Heat the 3 cups of vegetable broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add a fat pinch of salt to the broth and bring to a boil. Keep at a medium simmer until ready to serve.

Very finely mince or microplane the garlic cloves into two separate soup bowls. Top the garlic with the chopped white parts of scallion, and ground black pepper to taste

Divide the soba noodles, sliced kale and roasted tofu among the soup bowls. Pour the hot broth over top. Garnish the soup with remaining chopped scallions and more salt and pepper if you like. Serve with lime wedges.

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  • valentina - sweet kabocha04/12/2014 - 4:30 am

    I love soba so much, especially in broth! It is time I buy a packet of soba, oh yesReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar04/12/2014 - 4:50 am

    This looks like such a comforting meal! I just love this.ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan04/12/2014 - 7:17 am

    I love your eyes of making broth! The times I have made it with scraps it ends up tasting like dirt, gross. As always, your words and photos are hella awesome : )ReplyCancel

  • Tori@Gringalicious.com04/12/2014 - 7:51 am

    Gorgeous photography and the soup looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • yum! looks incredible! I just started making my own veggie broths and there are so many different takes on it! I’ll have to try yoursReplyCancel

  • Aleksandra04/12/2014 - 9:08 am

    I love your in-depth approach to making broth. I think its these steps that we often forget in cooking and which can make or break the end result.I will definately be trying this very soon. I reflected recently on making Polenta and how simmering it slowly and stirring it for a long time made it all the more delicious. In the end you can feel all the love that went into it. You described it so well. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Grace04/12/2014 - 9:20 am

    This broth is liquid gold! I would love a mug full, straight-up to sip on!ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae04/12/2014 - 9:31 am

    GRRRRRL. <3 This is fucking awesome. I've only recently started making my own broth (shaaaaame on me) (but it's not from frozen scraps so THERE) and it blows the 365 stock outta the water. NO GOING BACK. We have all the ingredients for this in our kitchen, so I'm going all in for dinner tonight. But with rice noodles because soba would require a trip to the store and I'm so damn lazy these days it's pathetic.ReplyCancel

  • Maryna04/12/2014 - 10:45 am

    It looks so damn good!!!ReplyCancel

  • Liz @ Floating Kitchen04/12/2014 - 10:51 am

    This looks so warm and comforting. I’m ready to dive right in! And agree…homemade stock is a must. I just save little scraps of vegetables in freezer bags and then when I have enough stock-piled, I go for it!ReplyCancel

  • Ileana04/12/2014 - 11:07 am

    You make vegetables look so gorgeous. :)ReplyCancel

  • Vijay from NoshOn.It04/12/2014 - 11:32 am

    Love these tips for a good veg stock. Mine always come up super bland and boring!ReplyCancel

  • Kari @ Cooking with Toddlers04/12/2014 - 11:49 am

    This looks so yummy! Perfect for cold winter days. And I’m in love with your cutting board…so beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Kris04/12/2014 - 11:52 am

    I love your stock game!ReplyCancel

  • Julie04/12/2014 - 1:57 pm

    This looks amazing!

    Have you ever added prunes to your stock? I’ve started to based on a “Plenty” recipe and there is no going back! It adds such a beautiful color and sweetness to the stock. I love it.ReplyCancel

  • michelle04/12/2014 - 3:02 pm

    So beautiful! You never know where inspiration will strike! I love soba but with soba I gotta have wakame and edamame…ReplyCancel

  • renee (will frolic for food)04/12/2014 - 3:39 pm

    well this is perfect in every way. i love making stock at home. your recipe sounds just so delicious. and is there anything better than a steaming noodle bowl like this on a cold night? i.e. i’m gonna be making this soon. thanks for the recipe (and oh man, could those photos be any prettier?!).ReplyCancel

  • cynthia04/12/2014 - 4:16 pm

    So dreamy. This sounds like the perfect winter meal, Laura. And I second others — your stock game is on point!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth04/12/2014 - 9:41 pm

    I love me a little kitchen dogma, and your stock principles are right on. I do almost the same thing for my veg stock, but had never thought to add the onion skin. As it happens, I’m broth-ing the frozen remains of our Thanksgiving bird (totally not the same thing, but still), and your advice came at the right time –– onion skins added.ReplyCancel

  • Riley04/12/2014 - 10:17 pm

    This recipe has my mouth drooling and I just ate dinner, so that’s saying something. I can’t wait to try this broth too! It’s also nice to see another vegan out there appreciating the glory of Ina Garten. Seriously, classiest woman ever. :)ReplyCancel

  • kristie {birch and wild}04/12/2014 - 11:12 pm

    If I want a stand out vegetable broth, I make a version like this. Otherwise, I use vegetable scraps (totally freeze them in a ziploc)and seaweed to make a mineral broth, which I sip in the morning. Those scraps are full of minerals! This soup looks lovely. I am always impressed at your ability to construct a dish really well with lot’s of different elements. And you take insanely good photos, too!ReplyCancel

  • Lynsey04/12/2014 - 11:29 pm

    Good stock is heaven in all it’s slurpy goodness!! Thanks for sharing yours. xoReplyCancel

  • Ana @ The Awesome Green05/12/2014 - 6:16 am

    I have a similar way of preparing the veggie stock, but I always add celeriac, parsnip and root parsley to enhance the flavors. Your way of preparing the vegetable stock reminds me of the Italian soffritto which gives that fabulous taste to minestrone soups. I bet yours tastes fantastic too!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn05/12/2014 - 7:58 am

    You’re so right – stock is such a fundamental ingredient that it makes absolutely no sense to use the crappy odds and ends from the bottom of the fridge. Onion skin = perfect.ReplyCancel

  • […] I die. 4. Christmas in a cookie. 5. This is a galette I’d like to eat at a wedding! 6. This noodle bowl looks absolutely dreamy. (It’s gluten free and vegan to […]ReplyCancel

  • Mary05/12/2014 - 9:38 am

    Such beautiful photos and such a delicious recipe – a perfect soup to cheer up this dreary cold weather – thanks!

  • Kathryne05/12/2014 - 1:16 pm

    Dang girl. Fantastic post! I’ve actually NEVER made my own vegetable broth, in part because I’m lazy but also because I doubted that simmered bits of bad vegetables would produce anything tasty. Thanks for confirming my suspicion! This soup looks marvelous.ReplyCancel

  • Wow! This looks SOO good! I love that it was inspired by a packet of ramen :) Cannot wait to try this!ReplyCancel

  • […] veg stock recipe/method is top notch. Plus did you see that soup?! It’s on […]ReplyCancel

  • Jessie05/12/2014 - 6:05 pm

    Tucking this recipe away for a cold snowy day when I’m feeling extra patient ;) your broth method is legit!ReplyCancel

  • […] garlic pepper soba bowl. […]ReplyCancel

  • Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy06/12/2014 - 9:06 pm

    oh my gosh this looks SO GOOD!!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah @ eating with alice07/12/2014 - 3:29 am

    I’m feeling a little bit under the weather tonight and this looks like exactly what I need!ReplyCancel

  • […] Garlic pepper soba. Yessss! […]ReplyCancel

  • Aysegul - Ice07/12/2014 - 10:07 pm

    Great information about making vegetable stock. You are so right about it. Since I started making my stock, I now know that nothing compares to the depth of flavor that it adds to the dish.
    I can only imagine how tasty this soba and tofu dish must be with your homemade stock.ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food07/12/2014 - 11:20 pm

    I need a whole pot of this stock in my life. Full of soba goodness, of course.

    Hope you’re doing well! Have a great week!!!ReplyCancel

  • Re08/12/2014 - 6:24 pm

    Your photography is so beautiful! Do you use Photoshop to edit?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright09/12/2014 - 8:25 am

      Hi Re, Thank you so much. I use a combination of Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom to edit the photos. I have several versions of VSCO film installed onto Lightroom, so I play around with that as well.

  • […] Mon amour pour la cuisine asiatique ne tarit pas. Surtout quand je vois cette recette. […]ReplyCancel

  • Ella09/12/2014 - 6:21 pm

    Every time you post a new recipe I am so grateful for you! Thank you for taking the time to stun us with your beautiful pictures and yummmyy recipes! You make my day each time I see somethin new.ReplyCancel

  • Anita10/12/2014 - 12:04 am

    Wow this recipe has changed my veg stock game for good I think! Was perfect and restorative on a snowy night.ReplyCancel

  • erin {yummy supper}10/12/2014 - 4:28 pm

    Laura, I am so feeling this. Everything about this recipe speaks to me. Yum!

  • Weekend Links and Inspiration13/12/2014 - 7:45 pm

    […] ~  From now on, I am making my vegetable stock with Laura’s method. […]ReplyCancel

  • Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen14/12/2014 - 7:48 am

    Love this post; your description of the process of making your vegetable broth and, obviously, this soba noodle soup recipe. Feeling so inspired now. Thanks for sharing. xxReplyCancel

  • Oh Ina–everything is so easy for her! I imagine it would be when you have a staff of 13, haha. Thanks for sharing your stock method, especially the freezer vegetables everyone swears by. I have to say, I’ve had success using close to your vegetable mix, but frozen, BUT I also always include fresh garlic, onions, and parsnips.ReplyCancel

  • […] pepper soba with roasted tofu = […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Healthy+spicy+asian= my sweet spot […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Soba w/ chili roasted tofu […]ReplyCancel

  • Lyn29/12/2014 - 5:39 pm

    This is a great site. Totally agree with your post on making stock. And thank you for the note on the parsley stems. Can kale stems be added to the veg mixture for stock?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright04/01/2015 - 4:28 pm

      Hi Lyn, I generally avoid adding anything from the brassica family, even the watery kale stems, to stock because I find they impart a bitter flavour. I always juice or blend my kale stems into my daily smoothie if I need to use them up :)

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  • […] a little sick.  I decided to make my own vegetable broth for the first time using the recipe from The First Mess, and it’s so much more flavourful than store-bought vegetable broth! Plus I love that you can […]ReplyCancel

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  • […] another exacting recipe for a warming vegetable stock (and a simple, cozy noodle dish) from The First Mess. She poops on my vegetable scrap idea, but her points are good and the broth looks rich and […]ReplyCancel

  • dedietrich19/03/2015 - 10:54 am

    Looks delicious. I’ll try this some day :)ReplyCancel

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