Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup with Caramelized Onions
What Makes This Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup So DelectableThis chicken ramen soup is a mashup of Asian and French techniques. The broth starts with an aromatic pot pourri of spices including garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, black pepper and jalapeño peppers. Chicken thighs are simmered in the spice-ladened liquid, shredded and added back in to the broth, along with a ton of caramelized onions. The onions are separately caramelized the same as you would do for French onion soup. You might as well call this chicken ramen noodle soup "umami soup," because it is literally made with layers of delicious umami-rich ingredients.
Cooking ProjectThis is not a weeknight meal, unless of course you made a big batch and are merely thawing your broth and cooking up your noodles. Then it is an amazing weeknight meal. To make this soup you have two somewhat discreet tasks: 1) making the broth, and 2) caramelizing the onions. The good news is they can be done on the same day, or two different days, according to what best fits your schedule.
Equipment Pinch PointThis recipe is written to serve about 12. You can cut it in half if you need to, but I encourage you to make the entire batch if you have adequate equipment. The main reason to cut the recipe in half is that for the quantities written you will need a lot of pots. You will need one large 10-quart soup pot to make the broth and combine everything together. You might be able to get away with an 8-quart pot, but it will be tight.
Caramelizing onions in three separate pots while making the sister recipe Homemade Short Rib Ramen Noodle Soup with Caramelized OnionsThen you will need multiple heavy bottomed pans, such as cast-iron skillets, Dutch ovens, or heavy-gauge stainless steel pans to caramelize the onions. I like to limit myself to about 3 onions per pan when caramelizing them. Why? Because if you put too many onions in the pan, they wind up steaming instead of caramelizing, so you never get the rich flavor or color you are looking for. This recipe calls for caramelizing 10 onions, so if you are only using one pan to caramelize the onions you are talking about three batches. You can caramelize the onions in batches if you don't have enough proper pots, but be mindful that it takes about 40 minutes per pan to caramelize onions properly. Please do not let this scare you away from making this wonderful soup!
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Making the BrothClean and cut your green onions to separate the green part from the white part. Refrigerate the green parts until you are ready to serve as they will be used to garnish the noodle soup. Peel and slice the ginger and then lightly smash the ginger and peeled garlic cloves. I use my garlic rock to smash both the garlic and the ginger. You cook these aromatics in the same pan you seared the ribs in and in the residual oil. Assemble your spices: black pepper corns, cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves and whole coriander. With all these great flavors you know this broth is going to be amazing! Add the spices to the aromatics and cook a few minutes to bring out their flavor and aroma.
Caramelizing the OnionsI have a great post on caramelizing onions that is worth checking out before you start this recipe. There are several things to consider:
- How to slice the onions (go for a stem to stern 1/2" slice).
- Never overcrowd or your onions will steam and not brown. Therefore, you want to use your largest heavy-bottomed pan or pans.
- Keep the heat low and stir frequently.
- Add a splash of wine or broth if they start to brown and stir to scrape up any of the tasty brown bits (called fond in French cooking) forming on the bottom of the pan.
- Once the onions are caramelized they will keep in the fridge for several days.
The Noodles Are as Important as the BrothFor a great ramen noodle soup, you need great noodles. Fortunately you do not have to make these from scratch. I found Sun Noodles, an awesome second-generation artisan noodle maker from Hawaii that ships all over the country. They supply the best noodle restaurants and they will deliver to your home.
Note: SNFD does not have a financial relationship with Sun Noodle. I just love their product.
Garnish Can Be Simple or ExtravagantRamen is about three things: the broth, the noodles and the garnish. You can garnish simply with some sliced green onions or you can get creative. For this soup I like to garnish with sliced green onion, some spinach and some thin radish slices. Mushroom slices,, baby bok choy, mung bean sprouts and a jammy soft boiled egg are also nice. I recommend not adding too many different garnishes so the focus remains on the broth and the noodles. I like to serve the noodle soup with a squeeze of lime and sriracha for added brightness and heat. I feel the squeeze of lime is a definite must.
So Are You Ready for a Steaming Bowl of Homemade Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup?
Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup with Caramelized Onions
Yield 12 servings
An incredibly fragrant and satisfying chicken ramen soup. The broth is unique in that it is chock full of shredded chicken and caramelized onions. The broth freezes well, so make a large batch and freeze your leftovers for future easy and satisfying weeknight meals.
For the broth:
- 2 T olive oil
- 10 green onions, white parts only, reserve green parts for garnish
- 12 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
- 6" piece of ginger, peeled and lightly smashed
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced
- 9 whole anise pods
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 12 whole cloves
- 1 T whole black peppercorns
- 1 T whole coriander seeds
- 5 quarts chicken broth
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 5 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup or more rice vinegar or more to taste
For the onions:
- 2 -3 T olive oil or ghee or a mixture of the two (note if using multiple pans you will need this for each pan)
- 10 onions, peeled, trimmed and sliced stem to stern in 1/2" slices
- White wine or chicken stock
For the noodles:
- 5-ounce serving per person of fresh ramen noodles (I like Sun Noodles)
For the garnish:
- 1 - 2 green onions, sliced, per person
- 1 - 2 squeezes lime per person (lime is critical to balance flavor)
- Sriracha to taste
- Optional garnishes include soft-boiled jammy eggs, spinach, bok choy, sliced radish or sliced mushrooms
For the broth:
- Heat a large 10-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and when it is hot add onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeno and cook until soft and they begin to color, about 4 minutes. Add remaining spices and cook another couple minutes.
- Add broth, soy sauce and chicken thighs to the pot and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to low and simmer for about 20 minutes until the chicken is done. Chicken can be removed when its internal temperature reads 155 degrees. The chicken will continue to cook and reach 165 degrees after they have been removed from the broth. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle shred into bite-sized pieces and set aside or refrigerate until ready to finish the soup.
- Strain the broth through a strainer and return to the pot. Skim any extra fat off the top. Or, if you are cooking the broth the day before, refrigerate overnight and the fat will rise to the top, coagulate and be very easy to skim off.
For the onions:
The caramelized onions can be made the same day as the broth or a day or two before or after. Caramelize no more than 3 - 4 onions in a pot at a time. If you have multiple appropriate pans you can caramelize them all at once.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pan, such as a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet. Add olive oil. ghee or mixture of the two to the pot. Heat oil and add onions and generous pinch of kosher salt. The salt helps to pull the water out of the onions and begin the caramelization process.
- Lower the heat to somewhere between medium and low -- low enough for your onions to cook slowly, without burning. Stir frequently in the beginning, scraping up any bits that begin to color and stick to the bottom. When the pan becomes dry and the onions start to stick, add a splash of wine or chicken broth to deglaze the pan. The liquid will create steam that will help release the onions. Give the pan a good scrape with a wooden spoon to release any stuck bits. Feel free to deglaze as needed.
- Continue cooking and stirring until the onions are golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Putting it all together:
- Combine the broth with the shredded chicken and the caramelized onions. Season with the rice vinegar to taste. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat and cook to combine flavors, about 15 minutes.
- Cook the noodles to package instructions and drain. Place the noodles in the bottom of oversized soup bowls and add broth to each bowl.
- Garnish with green onions, lime squeezes, sriracha and garnishes of your choice.
- The onions can be caramelized a day or two in advance or made while the broth is cooking. One reason to break up the process is you may be limited by the number of appropriate pans you own. To get good caramelization no more than 3 - 4 onions should be caramelized in a large pan, that is 12" or more in diameter.
- Because each batch of onions takes about 40 minutes it is nice to be able to use multiple pans to caramelize the onions all at a time.
Courses Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine New American, Asian, French