Make Mark Feel Better Spicy Rice Noodle Soup

Mark and I returned from a simply wonderful trip to Disney World, where we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary, earlier this week. Mark ran around like an exuberant child the entire time. He looked like this, constantly:

Unfortunately, he developed a bad cold or virus as soon as we got home Tuesday night. Considering the number of coughing children we encountered in Disney, I guess that’s not too surprising. He’s feeling better now, but he’s still quite stuffy, so I wanted to make him something sinus-clearing for dinner tonight. I can’t rightfully call what I made pho – it’s even less authentic than the last time I made it – but it’s “pho-inspired” and it was really quick and easy. It’s so quick and easy even the somewhat ill could make it for themselves. It’s also really good and you don’t have to be sick to appreciate it. I’m not sick and I thought it was great, too!

Spicy Rice Noodle Soup

6 oz rice noodles (linguine-shaped)
3 large shallots (or 1/2 onion), thinly sliced
4 cups vegan “beef” broth
2 star anise
1 small stick cinnamon
1 1/2″ chunk of ginger, grated
1/2 tsp MSG (optional)*
1/2 jalapeno, sliced
8 oz seitan, thinly sliced, or firm tofu, cubed
1 carrot, julienned
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup bean sprouts
cilantro, to taste
4 scallions, chopped
lime wedges
sriracha, to taste (optional)

Cook or soak the rice noodles according to the package directions, drain, and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.

Heat some oil in a soup pot, add the shallots or onion, and saute for about 5 minutes or until soft.

Add the broth, star anise, cinnamon, ginger (I just grated it right into the pot), MSG (if using), and jalapenos.

I used a small can of “chili chick’n” braised gluten for the seitan. You can find similar products in Chinese grocery stores. This particular kind comes in chunks that are comprised of several thin layers of seitan that I pulled apart and shredded with my fingers as I put them in the pot.

You can also use thinly-sliced homemade seitan, or cubed tofu. In either case, place in the pot and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the carrots and simmer for an additional 3 minutes, then add the spinach and cilantro and cook for another minute. (I didn’t have fresh cilantro and instead used two cubes frozen cilantro from Trader Joe’s.)

To assemble, place some of the rice noodles in each bowl …

… then ladle some of the broth over them, top with bean sprouts and scallions, squirt with sriracha to taste, and squeeze the lime wedge over it all before mixing it all up. Top with additional fresh jalapeno slices if so desired.

As you can see, this is really fast to make, and Mark reports that it was “really, really, really good”. In fact, he was quite disappointed to find there were no leftover rice noodles for a second helping, so he found some leftover rice and ladled the rest of the broth over that for his second bowlful. And he sounded less stuffy afterwards!

* About the MSG: I know some of you will find my use of MSG appalling, but I don’t have a problem with it. I keep it on hand for just a few different recipes, but tonight I really felt like upping the umami in my broth (with as little work as possible) and felt it gave it a little extra something. If you have it on hand, add it if you want to. If you are among those who revile MSG, just pretend you didn’t even see it in the recipe. As long as you use a good broth, it will have plenty of flavor anyway.

Back to our trip to Disney: it was relatively easy for us to eat there. Most of the restaurants are extremely accomodating, but we managed to find enough stuff that we didn’t need to have special dishes created for us. I did take a supply of energy bars everywhere we went in case of emergency, however, and we ate most of them. The best meal we had ended up being the Seared Marinated Tofu with Mango Glaze at the Sci-Fi Diner in Hollywood Studios – I need to recreate it because it was delicious. We got sushi for our anniversary dinner. Here’s what happens every time Mark uses chopsticks:

The resort somehow knew it was our anniversary and gave us a free upgrade to a really nice room with a balcony and a view of the water. We also got “Happy Anniversary” buttons that earned us anniversary greetings from just about every “cast member” we passed (as well as a few patrons), as well as free champagne at one dinner and free cake at another. Here we are in Epcot on our anniversary:

Because our anniversary is on Halloween, Mark let me wear my chicken hat that day. Ordinarily he hates the chicken hat, although I don’t know why because it brings joy to everyone who sees it. I also took Pig everywhere.

In the spirit of Halloween, Mark even wore the chicken hat for a while:

Then the sun started to go down:

… and eventually Epcot put on a light show for our anniversary. It was called Illuminations: Reflections of Earth or something that sounded a wee bit silly. It was cool, though.

Mark commented that I was obsessed with taking pictures of Cinderella’s castle. I guess it’s sort of compelling. I also like castles. We were married in a castle!

In my next post, I’ll have to tell you about the greenhouse tour we took at Epcot, because that was really interesting and actually food related!

And finally, I’ll leave you with an obligatory Mickey shot from a random Magic Kingdom parade. Boy, they sure love parades and fireworks in Disney World, let me tell you.


  1. Ksenia Said,

    November 7, 2009 @ 3:34 am

    It sounds like you had a great time in Disney World ๐Ÿ™‚ I caught a cold too T_T I suppose it’s the flu season: many people in my class are (or have been lately) ill, but in the younger classes it’s epidemic! Almost half of the students are ill in bed O.o

    I had just remembered that I have some rice noodles in the cupboard since summer xD

  2. Jes Said,

    November 7, 2009 @ 10:04 am

    That chicken hat is rockin’–I would wear it every day if I had one! And so awesome about the upgrade and awesome eats at Disney. As for the soup–I need to make this soon! And while I won’t rock the MSG, I love that you’re unashamed to use it every now and then. Jalepenos & rice noodles & seitan & spinach–it all sounds go good!

  3. Josiane Said,

    November 7, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

    Both the trip and the soup sound fabulous. I hope Mark feels better soon.

    Those are fun pictures! I can’t see what Mark has against the chicken hat: it suits both of you so well! Actually, that may be a clue: maybe he’s jealous? If you’re wearing it, that means he cannot wear it himself… Get one for him and he may let you wear yours anytime you want – he may even join in on the fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hm, getting married in a castle on Halloween day… if I make that a Transylvanian castle, I may stand a (tiny) chance to get my gentleman friend on board!

  4. Lisa Goldstein Kieda Said,

    November 7, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

    Happy Anniversary. Glad you had a nice time.

    Book recommend for you – the new Margaret Atwood, “The Year of the Flood”. Read it and let me know what you think!

    PS. More photos of cats, please….

  5. Courtney Said,

    November 7, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

    Happy anniversary! Where did you get married in a castle?!


  6. renae Said,

    November 7, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

    Courtney: we were married in Scotland. It was amazing!

    Josiane: believe it or not, my friend was married in a Transylvanian castle on Halloween (in fact, the exact same day I was married).

    Lisa: I’ve read – and liked – most of Margaret Atwood’s books so I will definitely check that one out. And I’ll be better about the cat pictures, I promise! I’ve just barely been home for the last month!

  7. Courtney Said,

    November 8, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

    It sounds amazing! My sister got married in a castle in Ireland, and I was surprised to hear someone else got married in a castle too ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. Mo Said,

    November 9, 2009 @ 1:16 am

    That chicken hat is the best thing EVER!

  9. Alexis Said,

    November 9, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

    I may be the only person reading your blog whose favorite part of this entry is Mark’s Perl shirt.

  10. renae Said,

    November 10, 2009 @ 10:38 am

    Alexis, actually I know for a fact you’re not the only Perl fan that reads this, although I am compelled to tell you that Mark feels C is the language god prefers us to use.

  11. trinity Said,

    November 11, 2009 @ 10:17 pm

    Cool! My friend works in Cinderella’s castle. Hope Mark feels better! and Happy Anniversary!

  12. Lena Said,

    November 12, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

    GORGEOUS PICTURES!!! Haven’t been to disney in forever. Your pho inspired dish also is making me hungry ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. it’s whats for dinner | kittenish Said,

    June 28, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

    […] 5. Tofu Sammich andย Noodle Soup […]

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