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So we’re still eating out of our pantry, and it’s going well.  Mostly because of pasta.  Which is perhaps the greatest pantry staple of all.

I always keep a good amount of dry pasta in the pantry.  There’s nothing easier than salting up some water and throwing in a handful of noodles, and just eating them with olive oil and garlic.  The trouble is, not all noodles are created equal, and the quality of the meal you want to prepare with pasta is going to depend on the quality of pasta you put into it.

And the trouble with that is that a lot of the better quality pastas can get expensive.  (I mean, ideally, we would all be making our own pasta by hand, from flour and water and eggs.  But let’s be honest, that is not happening, or at least not very often.)  But I’ve found a good compromise in Barilla Plus.

I started buying Barilla Plus pasta after reading about it in a list of most-recommended “modest-priced” dried pastas in The Splendid Table’s How to Cook Supper. I’ve tried some whole wheat/fiber enriched type pastas before, and many of them are grainy and downright inedible.  Barilla Plus (sold in yellow boxes) is actually made partially from legumes, and the resulting pasta has a nice, rustic flavor and is pretty high in protein.  (Since we frequently eat pasta without an additional protein source, I find it worth it to spend a little more on Barilla Plus.)

I also love soba noodles, but they are a little pricey.  This week, I just happened to have some in the pantry.  (Another reason I love Barilla Plus is that their spaghetti noodles work really well in place of soba noodles in all sorts of Asian-inspired recipes)

Sesame Soba Soup

(These measurements are very general– I would recommend just tossing the ingredients in, in these approximate amounts)

1/2 c. diced onion

a few cloves of garlic, a few leeks (garlic leeks if you can find them), some scallions (or other allium vegetables, maybe a cup or two, total)– all chopped into small pieces (If you don’t have leeks or garlic leeks or scallions on hand, just use a bunch of garlic– maybe 4-5 cloves)

2 T garlic powder (if not using fresh garlic)

1 T ginger powder (or some fresh chopped ginger)

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 c. chicken or beef stock (optional; you can substitute water), plus 2 c. water (or 4 c. water, total)

1/3 c. good quality soy sauce

2 T fish sauce (optional)

2 T. brown sugar (or white sugar or agave nectar)

1 9.5 oz/269 g bag of soba noodles (or substitute Barilla Plus spaghetti noodles)

3 T sesame oil

1.  In a large pot, heat some olive oil or butter on medium heat.  Add onions, sprinkle them with about 1/2 tsp. salt,  and cook for about 5 minutes.   Let them brown a little bit but not burn.

2. Add garlic, leeks, scallions, and stir with the onions for about 1 minute.  Add ginger and cayenne.  Stir for another minute, or until fragrant.  Add chicken stock (or equal amount water), soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar.  Place a lid on the pot and bring to a low boil.

3.  Add noodles to the pot, and cook (uncovered) for about 3-4 minutes, or until noodles are tender (soba noodles cook more quickly than regular flour noodles, so be careful not to overcook!)

4.  Check seasonings– add a little more salt or soy sauce if you want.  Ladle into bowls and top each bowl with about 1 T of sesame oil.

(You could also add just about any vegetables you have on hand to this soup, or top with some tempeh or leftover roasted chicken, etc.)

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