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Ramen Afternoons: From Powdered Broth to Simmered Trotters #SoupSwappers

Here we are at the first event of 2021 for our Soup Saturday Swappers group. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm started this event and, every month, I get a new array of soup recipes to put in my to-try pile.

To kick of the 2021 series of Soup Saturday Swappers, Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories asked us to share recipes for our favorite childhood soup.

Here's the line-up of recipes from the #SoupSwappers...

Ramen Afternoons

When Karen first shared this month's topic, I called my mom and asked about my "favorite" tomato soup. It's funny how memories work. She was baffled. "What favorite tomato soup?" When I was a kid, wasn't tomato soup my favorite? "No! You hated it," she recalled with a chuckle. 

Apparently she served me tomato-rice soup...from a can. But what I really liked was the grilled cheese sandwich that she made for me to dip into the tomato-rice soup. Okay. Well, I didn't feel like trying to recreate a canned soup that she remembered I hated. Oh, well.

Then she mentioned that I did love when my dad made ramen for me. Again, he made it from a package that included a powdered broth packet. He doctored it up with fresh carrots and celery, but still...

Though, when I thought about those soup lunches - both the tomato-rice and ramen afternoons - what I really remember was sitting in the kitchen while my parents heated things up and sitting at the table with them. We probably talked about school. Maybe we chatted about a book I was reading. The details are really hazy in my pushing-fifty-year-old brain. But what is clear is the memory of feeling loved and nourished. And I am grateful that my boys have been able to forge those sorts of memories with my parents as well. Okay, they both tell my mother, to her face, that she is an awful cook. Thankfully she has a sense of humor about that and tells them that they are spoiled by my cooking. But they fondly recall afternoons spent at the kitchen counter, eating and playing card games with my parents.

With the COVID pandemic and our shelter-in-place orders, we haven't been able to spend time with my parents. Even though they live less than a mile away - and we deliver food to them regularly - we haven't hugged my parents since March of last year. 

Here's hoping that we get this virus under control and can gather around our tables with friends and family soon. I would love for the boys to have more memories of ramen afternoons with my mom and dad. Only, this time, I will bring the ramen and it won't be made with powdered broth.

Simmered Trotters

We love going to ramen noodle houses where the broth has been simmering for days and most of the patrons do not speak English. One of our favorite ramen spots is in Palo Alto. The Bay Area is not too far, but it's not close enough to run up for a quick lunch. So, I was determined to learn to make my own. And what makes amazing ramen, in my book, is delicious broth.


I am not a stranger to making homemade broths and stocks, especially during the Fall and Winter. But our favorite is a Tonkotsu broth, made with pig trotters, chicken paws (why do they call them that, aren't they claws'?!?), and pork bones. 

makes 2 large pots full of broth

  • 2 pounds pig trotters
  • 4 pounds pork bones
  • 1 pound chicken paws
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 ounces brown mushrooms, quartered
  • 2" knob fresh ginger, halved
  • 6 to 8 green onions, cut to 4" lengths
  • water


Place trotters and bones in a large pot or divide them into two pots, depending on what sizes you have. Cover them to water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, drain the liquid out and rinse out your pot.

Place the boiled trotters and bones back into the pot with the chicken paws and other ingredients. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that forms after it has started to boil. The broth should boil steadily to release all of the collagen and fat. If the liquid is evaporating too much, add more water in, as needed.

Boil for, at least, 36 hours. Strain and save the broth. Season with salt before using.

More Ramen Memories

And my kids have their own ramen memories. For D's 17th birthday last month, he asked if I could replicate the ramen we had in a noodle shop in Copenhagen on our last night in Denmark in 2018. We were exhausted and cold and this was just what we needed.  You could tell their broth was not made from a powder! Here was my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf's birthday ramen v.2020.

Ingredients serves 4 

Soup Base
  • 8 cups Homemade Ramen Broth (above) or your favorite ramen broth
  • 8 Tablespoons tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 Tablespoons green onions, finely sliced
  • 1" ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 2 Tablespoons fermented black beans
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

To Serve
  • 4 portions of ramen noodles
  • 4 cups organic baby spinach
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, halved
  • 8 Tablespoons corn for garnish
  • chopped green onions for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish (I used a furikake blend that I had)

Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot, then reduce to a simmer and keep warm.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, preferably one with a strainer basket so cook the spinach and noodles in the same water without having to re-boil. Blanch the spinach. Remove it from the pan and rinse it with cold water. Keep the water at a simmer for the noodles.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add in the ground pork, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Cook until the pork is mostly browned. Stir in the beans, sesame oil, hot sauce, and soy sauce. Continue cooking until  the meat is a dark brown and some bits crispy.

To Serve
Place 2 Tablespoons tahini, 1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil, and 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce in the bottom of each serving bowl. 

Cook your noodles according to package directions, if you're using packaged ones! While your noodles cook, gently ladle 1-1/2 cups broth into each bowl and whisk to incorporate the tahini, oil, and sauce into the broth.

Divide the noodles into the serving bowls and ladle in another 1/2 cup on top of the noodles. Top with the wilted spinach, 2 Tablespoons corn kernels, hard-boiled eggs, and green onions. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or sesame. Serve hot.

That's a wrap for our January #SoupSwappers event. Thanks to Karen for hosting. We had fun rummaging through our food memories and making delicious soup.

We'll be back next month with Wendy of A  Day in the Life on the Farm leading our discussion of soups featuring potatoes or sweet potatoes. Stay tuned...


  1. OH my word...what a wonderful sounding soup. Pure comfort and love in that bowl.

  2. Kind of giggling over here...chicken paws. Are they really called this? We always just called them chicken feet. The "paws" just makes me think of a chicken with cat paws! This soup does look delicious though...and will definitely make me look for chicken paws the next time I visit the market!

  3. That soup sounds amazing. Love the chicken paws, lol!

  4. Chicken paws and pig trotters - that sounds like an amazing way to start a rich, deep broth... and now you have me curious whether or not I could find the patience to give this a try!

  5. We adore ramen here so I love seeing bloggers post recipes for it, so I can read all the ways. Ramen is a religious experience everyone should do, no matter where they start with the broth or even if they use instant ramen.

  6. The soup sounds amazing and filled with flavors!


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