Oh, ramen. You sustained me during my high school and college years. Many an afternoon, I heated you up and enjoyed loudly slurping up noodles in an over-salted yet uniformly bland broth. But many, many years later, and won’t you look at that: I’m still in school and still on a strict budget (funny how life works out sometimes, huh?). I didn’t know any better then but I do now. And I want to do right by you. So, we’re going to upgrade you a bit; balling on a budget style. I’m talking about a “girl, let me upgrade your life but I only have $10” budget.
It’s an easy feat though! Add in some fresh vegetables, vamp up the broth, throw in some tender chicken, brighten things up with fresh citrus, and enjoy a jammy egg or two. With pantry staples on hand, this filling meal for a family of four only ran me roughly $9 to make. Pretty impressive, right? Ha! Okay, so let’s do this thing.
Upgraded Ramen Noodle Soup
Cook time: 20 minutes
4-6 cups water
1lb chicken tenderloins
4-5 large garlic cloves, kept whole
2 tsp smoked paprika
4 packs instant ramen noodles (chicken flavor)*
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 8oz container sliced white mushrooms
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 small bag shredded carrots
1 small container mung bean sprouts
1 small bunch cilantro, rinsed
1 small bunch green onion, sliced on bias
4 eggs, jammy and halved (5 minute cook time)*
2 limes, for garnish
Furikake or sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
*Note: use 2 seasoning packets from the ramen for the broth, see instructions below. And make sure that your eggs are boiled prior to starting the ramen assembly.
In a large pot, bring chicken tenderloins to boil with water, garlic, salt, and smoked paprika. Once the chicken is cooked through, skim off any of the protein crud around the edge of the pot and discard the garlic cloves. Remove chicken, shred, and set aside to cool. Lower the heat on the pot to simmer while you’re working on everything else.
Next up, in a medium frying pan, sear mushrooms in coconut oil for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After crisp and golden, season with salt and pepper. Stir and set aside.
Back to the soup pot: turn the heat up and follow the package instructions to boil the ramen noodles in the same liquid used for boiling the chicken. Use half of the seasoning packets (2 packets per 4 noodle blocks). Once noodles are done, stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil.
To serve, place the noodles in a large bowl and assemble the veggies around the edge and add the sliced egg. Then, ladle in the broth over the noodles. Give a good squeeze of lime, another drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil to taste, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Dig in and hope you have seconds after everyone eats.