This basic udon soup recipe showcases the simplicity of Japanese cooking at its best! Enjoy a bowl of chewy udon noodles in a light, savory broth in just 15 minutes from start to finish.
Making a basic bowl of udon soup for lunch is quick, easy, and hits the spot every time I need a noodle soup fix. It has all of the classic Japanese flavors I’m looking for – dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and a hint of the mineral taste of kombu.
The recipe I’m sharing with you is the one I make weekly. As you will see, it’s super simple to make – it’s a basic udon soup recipe after all – and you can pretty much top it with anything you like.
What is Udon?
Udon is a type of noodle made from wheat flour that’s thicker than other noodles such as somen or soba, and is commonly white in color. It’s often used in Japanese cooking in soups, stir fries, or served cold or hot with a side dipping sauce. If served as a soup, the traditional broth (called kakejiru) is made with a mix of dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sometimes sake, salt, and sugar.
Popular toppings include scallions, an egg, tororo kombu (flaky seaweed), fish cakes, abura-age (deep fried tofu pouches), tempura flakes, shrimp tempura, and shichimi togarashi (red pepper flakes).
Best Type of Udon Noodles to Use for Soups
While dry udon noodles are great to eat cold, dipped in tsuyu broth, they are not the best option when it comes to soups. That’s because dry udon noodles tend to be thinner than fresh or frozen ones and because of that, don’t hold as well when served in a hot broth.
My personal favorite are sanuki udon noodles (さぬき), which hail from the Kagawa prefecture (香川県) in Japan. The noodles are square shaped, thick, and have a chewy texture that’s both firm and soft. They are the most popular choice of udon noodles in Japan to be served in soups, bukkake udon, (cold udon noodles with a chilled dashi sauce and topped with various ingredients), or kamaage udon (noodles served in a bowl of hot water and a side of hot dipping sauce).
If you cannot find sanuki udon, the fresh or frozen ones are also good options.
Ingredients for Udon Soup
- Dashi: You can make dashi from scratch which is very easy (I have recipes for both fish based or vegan dashi), or you can buy dashi powder. If you are using it in powder form, make sure to get a good one like Kayanoya, which was recommended by a friend of mine, in Japan, who is a serious foodie.
- Water: Udon broth is much milder in taste than a traditional ramen broth, which is why it needs to be diluted with water.
- Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is for umami and to infuse savory and salty flavors. I’m using 1 1/2 tablespoon but if you are watching your salt intake, you can start by using 1/2 tablespoon and go from there (do a taste test).
- Mirin: Mirin is soy sauce’s best friend! Its sweet and sake-like flavors balance the umami and saltiness of soy sauce to perfection.
- Kombu: You don’t need to use kombu if you are making a vegan broth. Kombu adds a slight mineral taste to the broth that is reminiscent of the ocean.
- Udon noodles: As previously mentioned, fresh or frozen sanuki noodles are the best choice for udon soup. The second option is regular fresh or frozen udon noodles. And lastly, dry udon noodles.
- Toppings: I like to add chopped scallions, a raw egg, shiitake mushrooms, tororo kombu, and nori to mine. But go ahead and use any toppings you like. Chopped spinach are great, fish cakes, broccoli, fried tofu, tempura flakes, etc… The options are endless!
Variations on Udon Soup
Low Sodium: Use 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce instead of the recommend 1 1/2 tablespoon. You can also use a less sodium soy sauce.
Gluten-Free: Use liquid amino or tamari sauce instead of soy sauce. Use gluten-free noodles instead of udon noodles. Also, look at the ingredients list in mirin to make sure it doesn’t contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein (which contains gluten).
How to Make Udon Noodle Soup
- Gather all of your ingredients and set up your work station.
- Put all the ingredients for the broth, stir, and leave for 10 minutes. This is to let the kombu steep and release flavor.
- Turn the heat on and bring the broth to a boil. As soon as it boils, take the kombu out. Lower the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile fill another pot with water and bring it to boil. Add the udon noodles and follow the instructions on the package. Frozen or fresh udon noodles usually take 2-3 minutes to cook. Drain well.
- Grab two soup or ramen bowls and divide the broth and noodles. Top with your favorite ingredients and serve.
What’s the Difference Between Udon and Soba?
Udon noodles are made with wheat flour and are thick and chewy. They are usually white in color, although you may sometimes see them pink or green if the flour is mixed with other ingredients such as matcha. The flavor of udon noodles on their own is quite mild, like any other wheat flour noodles.
Soba noodles, on the other hand, are brown or grey, and made with a combination of buckwheat and wheat flour. It’s worth noting that there are many different types of soba noodles based on the ratio of buckwheat and wheat flour being used.
For example, if the soba noodles you are eating contain a high percentage of buckwheat, they will be darker in color and pretty stiff. If the noodles are higher in wheat flour, they will be lighter in color and chewy. The flavor of soba is nutty and rich.
Delicious Udon Recipes
If you are an udon fanatic like me, you will be happy to know that there are plenty of delicious recipes you can make with these beautiful chewy noodles. Some of my favorites are:
Did you like this udon noodle soup recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Enjoy a bowl of chewy udon noodles in savory broth in just 15 minutes from start to finish!
- 8 ounces dry udon noodles or 2 packets of fresh udon noodles
- 1 cup dashi (click here if for homemade dashi (vegan option also available), or use 1 teaspoon dashi powder mixed with 1 cup water
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 3-inch piece kombu (dried kelp)
- 3 stalks scallions (thinly sliced on the bias)
- tororo kombu (optional)
- 2 fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 2 eggs
- 2 dry nori sheets
- Put all the ingredients for the broth in a pot and leave for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil and remove the kelp. Lower the heat, cover and simmer on low for 5 minutes. If you are using shiitake mushrooms for topping, add them to the broth and simmer together.
- Bring a pot of water to boil and add your udon noodles. Cook noodles according to the directions on the package. Save some of the water (about a cup), drain and set aside.
- Divide the noodles and broth between two bowls and add topping of your choice. Serve hot.
- Add a little of the hot udon water that you saved to dilute the broth if it’s too strong.
- You can refrigerate the broth in an airtight storage container. It will keep for up to 1 month.
- Or you can freeze the broth in an airtight storage container (let it cool to room temperature first) and it will last for up to 3 months.
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 497
- Sugar: 17.4g
- Sodium: 1683.7mg
- Fat: 6.7g
- Saturated Fat: 1.9g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1.2g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 85.8g
- Fiber: 1.5g
- Protein: 13.3g
- Cholesterol: 192.8mg
Keywords: recipe, noodles, Asian, noodle soup, lunch, easy