Japanese Vegetarian Hot Soba Soup

Contains:   Eggs, soy, almost certainly gluten.  Is:  Vegetarian, nightshade-free. 

Soba noodles are buckwheat noodles, but looking at the ingredient package of mine, these also contain wheat (hence, gluten, if you are concerned).  I’ve no idea if this is true for all brands of soba, but having looked into it further, most of it certainly will.

Soba soup, soba noodles, recipe, Japanese, vegetarian, cabbage

One of two servings.  The egg was in “velvet” stage.

You can easily omit the egg to make this soup vegan, or should you have an egg allergy.  I mean, it’s just sitting there, and it doesn’t have to, unless you want it to!

I used dried raw Icelandic “royal kombu”, which is a related type of kelp to the Japanese dried kombu, and has the added benefit of not being perfused in Fukushima waters whilst growing.  I omitted the bonito since I’m out of my pre-Fukushima stock as well – but hey, shiitakes to the rescue for a very good umami experience!  Anyhow, this Icelandic seaweed is thinner so I chose to use a larger chunk of it than I would have of actual kombu.  According to the label, this new seaweed is a bit sweeter than the Japanese variety, so I opted to omit any sugar for the soup, entirely.  (If not satisfied, one can always add in up to a teaspoon full at the final tasting, as the liquid will be hot enough for the sugar to dissolve quickly.)

Soba soup, soba noodles, recipe, Japanese, vegetarian, cabbage

Some of the ingredients used in this recipe. This package of soba noodles also contains lotus root.  Use whatever you come across or prefer.

The soy is added near the end because I’ve read reports that boiled soy sauce can take on bitterness.  Let’s not temp fate!

Soba is often served cold, but I’m not really a fan of cold noodles at any time, nor do I want cold soup in the wintertime.  They’re going to be steamy hot when served!

Soba soup, soba noodles, recipe, Japanese, vegetarian, cabbage

Just after adding cabbage and noodles.

You can use other veggies, or even some meat or tofu, in this soup.   It’s really open-ended depending on what you like and have to hand.  If you do add meat or tofu, I’d precook that in a skillet.

Prep Time (includes soaking):  45 minutes.
Cook Time:  40 minutes.
Rest Time:  Not needed.
Serves: 2.
Cuisine:  Japanese.
Leftovers:  Yes, but don’t add the egg or watercress to the leftover portion, until you re-heat.

Hot Soba Soup

  • 20 grams dried shiitake
  • 2 cups water
  • approximately 1.5 x 2.5 inches kombu (or around 2 x 4 inches Icelandic kelp/royal kombu – it is not quite as strong)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sake will do in a pinch).
  • 3/4 teaspoon minced ginger.
  • 2 ounces / 50 grams uncooked soba noodles.
  • 2.5 ounces / 70 grams savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage and/or baby bok choy
  • 1 egg, optional.
  • 1.5 ounces / 45 mL low sodium, gluten free tamari or soy sauce.  Or, coconut aminos, for which since they are so sweet, I’d add only 30-35 mL at most.
  • A scattering of roasted sesame seeds and/or watercress for garnish.

Soak the shiitake and the kombu for at least half an hour in hot tap water, or until soft.

Slice the shiitake into 1/4 inch strips, removing and discarding the tough stalks.

Add the shiitake, kombu, plus soaking water to a small stove pot.

Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Allow to simmer 20 minutes.

While simmering, prep up the veggies for the dish (slice the brassica -whether cabbage or bok choy) into small slivers, with larger pieces of the leafy green part of the bok choy if using.  Set aside.

Rinse the sprouts, and set aside.

Remove the kombu and discard.  On the other hand, if using the Icelandic royal kombu/kelp, which is more tender, feel free to chop it up and return to the pot.

My soba package said to bring liquid to a boil, add, then simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Time the rest of your cooking according to what your own soba packages says.  In my case, I added both the cabbage and the ginger to the soup broth, then returned this to a boil before adding the noodles.

Add the soba noodles, and allow them to moisten enough to bend. Since the noodles will remain hot upon removal from the heat source, I opted to cook mine around 8 minutes, testing at 7.  Add the mirin when you add the soba.  

Bring another saucepan of water to a boil.  Keeping mindful of timing, soft-cook one egg still in its shell.  You are typically aiming for a creamy to a velvety yolk texture, with a solid white.  (Too liquid, and everything will just fall apart when you cut the egg in half!)  To keep the egg yolk centered while cooking, gently turn it with a handy implement from time to time as you cook.  You can add the egg carefully to the water once it is boiling using a slotted spoon (then cook for 5-6 minutes), but I find I get a stronger more solid textured white by starting the egg in ambient room temps, then bringing the egg to a boil.  The trouble with this method in writing up directions is that everyone’s hobs and sauce pan volumes will be different, so it helps to know already how long to cook your egg after the pot comes to a boil.    PS, if you want your egg cooked harder than standard, nothing wrong with that!

Remove egg from hot water, rinse in cold tap water, and gently peel off the shell.

When the noodles are just ready,  add the sprouts and the tamari/soy.  Turn heat very low,  and gently stir.

Divvy out to bowls, adding a half an egg to each, yolk side up.

Sprinkle servings with sesame seeds and add optional watercress.

This post is in memory of Orion
October 1, 2006 – February 18, 2019.
A handsome feline of distinction.
(I doubt he’d have been interested in this soup)


Orion is the cat on the far right. Long haired silver American curl.

Soba soup, soba noodles, recipe, Japanese, vegetarian, cabbage

Oh, a video I discovered the day after making the above, for those wanting to learn a lot more about soba than I knew when cooking this recipe!

Begin Japanology: Soba

Please come visit the Fiesta Friday Link Party.  This week’s host is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.


About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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14 Responses to Japanese Vegetarian Hot Soba Soup

  1. Kat says:

    Looks yummy! I wonder if you could use rice noodles instead of soba noodles to keep it gluten free? (This was just a passing thought….) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Looks delicious! And your kitties are cute. 😀

  3. Laura says:

    Great to see a hot version of soba noodles – I’ve been having them cold and love that they are so quick to cook…..

  4. I have a package of soba noodles somewhere, probably very close to its expiration date by now. Thanks for reminding me 😀

  5. Sounds lovely and a very informative post. I will keep that Soy hint in mind!

    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved companion, sweetie! And yes he does indeed look like a feline of distinction!

    • Thanks. And yes, Orion is still missed, especially by his cousin Obi-Wan. Obi was miserable and lonely here as a kitten until I suddenly decided to go back and pick up Orion…

  6. Sandhya says:

    Sending you hugs. Orion looks so distinctive indeed.
    Your post on hot soba soup is very informative and it is so perfect for the winter!

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