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Dee W's Great Big Wok Full of Asian Noodle Soup

Serves 4, as a meal
Dee, who lives in New Jersey (but promises "we don't tawk that way") delights in her neighborhood, in a triangle between New York and Philadelphia blessed with a very large Asian community. "I  have three very well stocked Asian supermarkets within 15 minutes of my home, " she writes, " and I do take advantage of the fresh tofu, large jars of Asian condiments (the smaller versions cost three times more in my local supermarket!), fresh veggies of every description, inexpensive prices on mangoes, pineapples, water coconuts...fresh lychees in season." She also uses "a very well loved and seasoned traditional  carbon steel wok" to make this superb comfort food, which she describes as "a noodle bowl that comes straight out of Beijing (with the spices and wheat noodles instead of rice) and then visits Canton for all of the fresh veggies and tofu." She adds that while she does " have a store of dried cloud ears and shitakes,  this is something that I like to make on a weekday night when time is of the essence. On the weekend, yes, I'll do the dried mushroom thing and add the strained liquor to the broth. "

This is delicious, generous bowl makes even getting chilled to the bone worthwhile, so good an  antidote is this soup. Thank you, Dee!
For the soup:
6 cups of light veggie stock
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 quarter sized piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 shake of five spice powder
3 scallions, trimmed and sliced paper thin (whites and some greens)
1 good "gloop" (yes, that's the technical term) of dark soy sauce (not tamari!)
1 decent splash of sherry or rice wine or Chinese cooking wine
1 good dollop of vegetarian oyster sauce
2 or 3 good turns of freshly ground white pepper

Firm vegetables:

1 cup of julienned carrots
1 cup of peeled julienned broccoli stems (so, that's what you use them for!)
1/2 cup of julienned fresh red pepper

Tender vegetables,  pasta, & tofu:

4 cups of chopped Chinese greens (bok choy, mustard greens, Chinese broccoli, water spinach, etc).
One 12 oz. can of baby straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms (button or wild is fine)
1 8 oz can of water chestnuts, drained, chopped or sliced (of course, if you can find fresh use those!)
1 cup of fresh bean sprouts
1 cup of trimmed fresh pea pods, cut in half *or* 1 cup of sugar snap peas (fresh is great, frozen is fine) *or* frozen shelled edamame
8 oz. of pressed extra firm tofu, diced
8 oz. of precooked Shanghai noodles *or* cooked linguine *or* cooked ramen noodles
1. Heat a large wok over a medium heat , and add the ingredients listed as "For the soup." Bring to a simmer and let it bubble for a couple of minutes. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your taste (it should be dark and rich without being overly salty).
2. Add the firm vegetables.  Cover the wok and let them simmer for a minute or so.

3. Next add the tender vegetables, pasta, and tofu. Give it all a good stir, let it bubble and cover the wok. Let it cook for about five minutes.

4. Taste for seasonings, and adjust as necessary. When you're happy with the results, finish it with a bit of cold-pressed sesame seed oil.
5. Spoon it into large soup bowls and remember, it's perfectly acceptable to make slurping sounds when you eat a noodle bowl! What's *not* cool, however, is to cut up the noodles or to break them in half with your teeth since that's considered to be bad luck in the Chinese culture.

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