The Initial Udon

Spicy Lemongrass Chicken Udon Soup


Spring may have already sprung but the weather is still cold enough to warrant Spicy Lemongrass Chicken Udon. Warm and comforting, this soup is good all year long but is best served on chilly nights when you can fully appreciate it.

My dad and I often order udon noodles at Japanese restaurants but never make them at home.

Lemongrass is a flavor my family loves but never has at home.

I like enoki mushrooms in ramen at restaurants but never have them at home.

What better way to embrace these ingredients than to meld them together in flavorful soup?

Happily, these ingredients were inexpensive.

Four stalks of lemongrass = $0.30

One pack of large enoki mushrooms = $1.99

One pack of dried udon noodles = $1.50

Thank you 99 Ranch. You may have just opened but I’m officially adding you to my usual rotation of Asian grocery stores. (Don’t worry Asian Food Market and H-Mart, I still love you both!)

Plus this soup is easy to make― it’s a real one-pot wonder!

You can use a separate pot to cook the vegetables if you wish but I like cooking all the ingredients in the stock pot. Who wants to wash more dishes than necessary?

Inexpensive and easy to make, this Lemongrass Chicken Udon soup has quickly become a favorite.

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Recipe Type: Soup

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4

This flavorful soup comes together in a flash thanks to ingredients readily found at your local Asian grocery. Dried udon noodles, lemongrass, enoki mushrooms, skinless chicken thighs and you’re good to go!



Half a pack of dried udon noodles
2 to 3 skinless chicken thighs
3 stalks fresh lemongrass
1 onion, chopped
100g enoki mushrooms, chopped into three segments
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 zucchini, sliced
1 seeded jalapeño, diced
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup light coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
Optional: Cilantro leaves

Vegetable Instructions

  1. Heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a wok over medium high heat. (To save dishes, you can use the stock pot that the soup will later be cooked in.)
  2. Add half a teaspoon of minced garlic and once golden, add enoki mushrooms.
  3. Coat the mushrooms in the oil and cook until slightly wilted.
  4. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and cook another minute.
  5. Add red bell pepper and zucchini. Cook 5 to 7 minutes until softened.
  6. Remove from heat and set aside.

Soup Instructions

  1. Bruise the lemongrass and cut into three segments.
  2. Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a stock pot over medium high heat and sweat the lemongrass for a minute.
  3. Add chopped onion, diced jalapeño, ginger paste and remaining minced garlic. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until softened.
  4. Add chicken thighs and sear for 3 minutes on one side. Flip the chicken and sear on the other side.
  5. Coat the chicken in oyster sauce, soy sauce and mirin.
  6. Add chicken broth and water. Add star anise, coriander seeds and peppercorns. You can place the spices in a mesh bag but because they should float, a bag isn’t necessary for easy removal.
  7. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow the stock to simmer for about 25 minutes.
  8. Move the chicken thighs to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return both the chicken and bones to the broth.
  9. Strain and discard the spices.
  10. Add half a pack of dried udon noodles and cook according to the instructions. Leave the lid on the pot so the broth doesn’t evaporate.
  11. Discard the chicken bones and lemongrass.
  12. Add the vegetables and coconut milk to the soup.
  13. Finish with lime juice and remove from heat.
  14. Top with sliced jalapeños and chopped cilantro.


* Make sure to wash the enoki mushrooms thoroughly, especially the roots.

* I don’t salt the chicken because the soy sauce and oyster sauce add enough salt. If you taste test the soup, you can always add a pinch of salt later.

* If you don’t have mirin, you can substitute rice wine vinegar. If you don’t have oyster sauce, try fish sauce.

* For extra credit, boost the lemongrass flavor. Add half a tablespoon or so of lemongrass paste along with the onions, jalapeño, minced garlic and ginger paste.

* To recreate the dish photographed above, top individual portions with enoki mushrooms rather than stirring them into the soup. Add chopped cilantro for color.



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