Asian Soup Unrecipe

Pan Asian Soup

Shirley of Gluten-Free Easily is hosting Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free this month, and she challenged us to “think outside the recipe box” with the theme of Dishes So Simple, No Recipe Required. Much of my cooking involves throwing things together and seeing what happens. As I’ve written more for the blog I’ve tried to be more systematic about the way I create recipes, but it’s still something I struggle with. This was a fun opportunity to lighten up and not worry about it.

This is a dish I’ve been wanting to share for a long time. It’s one of my go-to dishes when I can’t think of anything else to eat. Part of the reason I have not shared it yet is because it always changes. It’s a fusion of many foods typically used in various Asian cuisines. I use whichever ones I happen to have around. Since this is an unrecipe, it’s not written in my normal format. I’m not going to provide proportions for ingredients, but I will tell you what went into this specific incarnation and show you how I make it.

To make this soup you will need:

  • maifun (also called rice vermicelli or rice stick noodles)
  • dried shitake mushrooms
  • dried wakame
  • fresh ginger
  • wheat-free tamari
  • toasted sesame seed oil
  • fresh green onions
  • water

Get all your ingredients together, and we’ll start.

This is maifun. You don’t boil these noodles like you do with other pasta. They just need a little soak in hot water to be ready to eat.

As you can see, the noodles are longer than my bowl, so I usually cut them. I cut them in half, but you can cut them really short if you want to have bite-sized pieces or leave them really long if you prefer to slurp your noodles.

Then I added dried shitake mushrooms. I use around 3 for one bowl. (But I love mushrooms.)

I’ve found that they’re rather difficult to cut when not re-hydrated, so I tear them into pieces.

After the mushrooms,  I added a little wakame. This stuff will expand a lot once it’s wet, so I don’t add too much.

Then I added enough water so that everything is covered. If you like lots of broth, fill the bowl.

Finally I added a piece of ginger. I left it whole for a subtle flavor. You can chop it for a stronger flavor, but it’ll be more difficult to fish the pieces out. Given the short “cooking” time of this recipe, the ginger will still be spicy. Keep that in mind when deciding whether to chop it up or not.

Now I heat it up in the microwave. Three minutes works for me. Our microwave is pretty high-powered though. You do want the water to reach a boil. In fact, instead of microwaving, you could boil water and pour it over the ingredients. Either way, let the soup stand for a few minutes so everything has time to soften.

Once the noodles and mushrooms were soft, I added a little tamari to season the broth. You can see that the seaweed and mushrooms expanded quite a bit.

Once that’s stirred in, I topped the soup with some toasted sesame oil and chopped green onions. Now it’s ready to eat!

This soup is infinitely adaptable to what’s on hand. I happened to have green onions today, so they got added in. Generally I flavor the soup with miso instead of tamari but I’m out of miso at the moment, so tamari it was. If I have fresh spinach or mushrooms, I’ll likely add them. Sometimes I’ll use arame in place of the wakame. If you can’t find either, look for nori sheets. Toast a sheet, crush it up and sprinkle it on top. Crushed red pepper or hot chili oil is nice for a spicy kick. Cubed tofu would add some protein. Or edamame. While I’ve never tried it before, I think the soup could go in a Thai direction with coconut milk and lemongrass. Maybe some lime juice.

Hope this recipe gives you a good start on your own soup. You can check the whole roundup on Shirley’s site.

Looking for More Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes?

Take a look at my book, The Wheat-Free Meat-Free Cookbook: 100 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes.

A sampling of the recipes included:
  • Breakfasts: Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins, Yeasted Waffles, Gooey Butter Cake,
  • Sides: Patatas Bravas, Pea and New Potato Salad, Braised Celery,
  • Mains: Corn Waffle Sandwiches, Enchiladas with Green Sauce, Pesto Asparagus Galette, and
  • Desserts: Blueberry Mango Crisp, Baklava Rolls, Amaretto Cake.

You can see the full recipe list on the Amazon page.


  1. Wow, this Asian soup is so creative and fun, yet easy to make, Kalinda! It looks so delicious and healthy–I love it! What a truly great submission for Go Ahead Honey! :-) I know all your readers will love this idea, too, so I’m glad my theme finally inspired you to share it. ;-)


  2. This is one of those fabulous “I’ve been so involved in my work that I’m hungry NOW and need something yummy & healthy to eat FAST” recipes.
    It might decrease the Asian-ness of it, but with what’s on hand in my kitchen, minced red peppers and carrots would go in with the mushrooms.
    Great idea, Kalinda!—-from another unrecipe cook.

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