This past weekend in the Northeast was bone-chillingly cold; even with the heat on high, the house had a noticeable draft. When the weather is this cold, I really want hot soup. Indeed, it’s a bowl of hot and spicy beef noodle soup.
Because of how easy it is to make, this Spicy Beef Noodle Soup is one of my favorite soups to make. Easy as pulling out two stock pots (or, failing that, beginning with a smaller pot to boil the beef if you only have one). However, the soup base in the larger pot needs to be reconstituted with boiling water before it can be simmered.
Boiling the beef first is essential in removing any potential “impurities” from the meat. A lot of people who read this are probably wondering why we’re doing this… therefore, we thought it would be helpful to include a picture of what these contaminants look like. Normally, I would discard the water used to boil the beef, but since we are using it to make a soup base and could use all the flavor it could provide, I strained it and used it. I’ve found that chuck, the same cut of beef used for a pot roast, works best in this recipe.
This spicy beef noodle soup recipe can be easily adapted by substituting regular (non-spicy) bean sauce for the chili bean sauce called for in the original recipe if you prefer a milder dish. Additionally, I added 2 tablespoons of Sichuan peppercorns. Only use 1 tablespoon if you don’t like how numbing it is.
Whatever noodles you prefer can be used. Make sure to set aside a separate pot for them to cook in. Add the scallions and cilantro to a bowl of noodles, beef, and soup, and you’ll be ready to face the chill in no time.
- 3 lbs of beef chuck (cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks)
- 16 cups of cold water
- 6 slices of ginger
- 2 heads of peeled garlic
- 1 large onion (cut into chunks)
- 1 large tomato (cut into small chunks)
- 1 large piece of dried tangerine peel
- 5 star anise
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 washed scallions (cut in half)
- 1/4 cup of spicy bean paste
- 1/2 cup of light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of Shaoxing wine
- 3 tablespoons of oil
- 1-2 tablespoons of Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- fresh or dried wheat noodles
- Chopped scallion and cilantro for garnish
- This dish requires two large pots. Put 16 cups of ice water into a large stockpot. Stir in the beef chunks, scallions, ginger, and Shaoxing wine. Bring to a boil while covered. Reduce the heat right away and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove from heat and set aside.
- Cook the oil with the Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, garlic, onion, and bay leaves in a separate stock pot or large wok over medium-low heat. Warm up the pan and let the garlic and onion simmer until they soften (about 5 – 10 minutes).
- Throw in some of the hot bean paste. Tomatoes should be added at this point and cooked for two minutes. Last but not least, combine the sugar and light soy sauce. Remove the heat source.
- Let’s grab some beef, ginger, and scallions from the first pot and transfer them to the second. The stock is then poured in after being strained through a fine mesh strainer. Toss the tangerine rind into the pot and set it over high heat. Bring the soup to a boil, covered. Simmer and cook for 60–90 minutes.
- When the food has reached a simmer, remove it from the heat but leave the lid on, and let it sit on the stove (off the heat) for an additional hour to allow the flavors to combine.
- You can now begin to add other ingredients to your finished soup base. Do not forget to re-boil the soup stock right before serving. If you don’t want the spices and aromatics in your broth, you can pick out the beef and strain the soup.
- Noodles should be cooked separately per package directions and then divided evenly among serving bowls (you can get 8 generous servings out of your pot of soup and beef). Hot broth, beef, scallions, and cilantro should be poured over the bowls. Hot and ready to serve!
- Stock and beef, if any remains, can be frozen and reheated later.