Recipe and photo by Tara Lanich-LaBrie

This is a flavorful, seasonal version of a ramen bowl, livening up the traditional squash soups that grace many holiday tables. Add as many or as few seasonal ingredients as you like—keep it simple, or experiment with new combinations. Ramen is often characterized by the much sought-after flavor profile umami, which is loosely translated as yummy in Japanese. In one-dollar ramen packets, this flavor is approximated with MSG, but it can be activated naturally with fermented foods such as soy sauce, miso, seaweed, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, and cooked meat.

Seasonal Ramen Bowl with Miso Squash Broth
Serves 4–6

  • 1/4 cup dried Hijiki or Wakame seaweed, soaked and strained
  • 1 hard-boiled egg per person, split in half
  • 1–2 tablespoons kimchi per person (this spicy pickled
    cabbage is available at most major health food stores)
  • 1 purple daikon radish, cut in rounds (can use any
    kind of radish)
  • 1 bunch of purple or rainbow carrots, split lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Sea salt
  • 1 package (16–20 ounces) extra firm tofu, cubed
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (could also use lime juice)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lightly toasted black sesame seeds
    (can use white also)
  • 1 head of chopped escarole (can use other bitter or
    winter greens also, such as chard)
  • Sesame oil
  • 3–4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons brown or black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 2 medium-sized celery roots, shredded
  • 1 package of frozen or dried and rehydrated chopped
    shiitake mushrooms (or fresh wild mushrooms), about
    8 ounces
  • 2 packages Lotus Foods forbidden rice black
    ramen noodles
    8 cups bone broth, vegetable stock, dashi, or water
  • 1–2 cups roasted winter squash or pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup miso paste (I like adzuki bean miso paste)

I like to have several bowls on the table filled with ramen toppings and create an interactive meal, so I recommend having bowls ready for the ingredients as they come off the stove. You can prepare the hard-boiled eggs and soak the seaweed 2–4 hours before you begin cooking, and then place in separate bowls. Set out bowls of kimchi and the purple daikon radish, cut into thin rounds.

Heat the oven to 400° F. Split your rainbow carrots lengthwise into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on their size. Place split carrots on a cookie sheet, and rub with coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake carrots until they soften but retain a little crunch, about 15 minutes. Remove carrots and transfer to a bowl or plate.

While carrots are baking, chop tofu into small squares. In a medium-sized bowl, add the tamarind paste or lime juice, 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Mix well and add tofu, coating it with the sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet, and using a slotted spoon, move the tofu to the heated skillet. Fry on medium heat until it browns; then pour remaining liquid into the pan. Stir while heating for about 2 minutes. Add the lightly toasted sesame seeds, and transfer tofu to a bowl, covering to keep warm.

Chop escarole loosely and warm about 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a skillet. Add crushed garlic to the skillet and sauté until garlic begins to get glassy. Add greens and sauté until softened, mixing garlic in completely. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

Warm 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet and add the 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the chopped cauliflower florets, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, salt to taste, and a splash of water or broth. Cover the pan and let the cauliflower soften. Transfer to a bowl to add to the finished soup.

I love celery root, and I prepare it simply to show off its unique flavor. In a skillet, warm about a tablespoon of coconut oil, and then add the finely shredded celery root, with salt to taste. I like mine crispier, but watch that it does not burn, stirring frequently. Transfer to a bowl for the table.

Add a tablespoon of sesame oil or butter to a skillet to warm. Loosely chop the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned, adding salt to taste. Transfer these to a bowl for the table.

Fill a large pot with water and follow the package directions for the ramen noodles. It is fine to use any kind of ramen noodles, but the Lotus Food Ramen Noodles are gluten-free and come out a beautiful dark purple. Strain the noodles and add some equally to each bowl that will be served.

To assemble the broth, add the 8 cups of stock or water to a second large pot. Blend in the roasted squash and add the miso. Heat to almost boiling; this preserves the living enzymes in the miso. Add soy sauce to taste and more miso, if necessary. Ladle the broth over the noodles and then assemble your perfect ramen bowl with all the fixings.

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