Whole-Chicken & Veggie Ramen
My inspiration for homemade Ramen came after a trip to Japan and a visit to Afuri, a well-known Ramen place. (Side note: Afuri also has a restaurant in Portland, and while its good, unfortunately it does not taste like the version in Tokyo – its a tad Americanized.)
Besides being totally inspired my my travel and seeing how other cultures experience and relate to food, I was also looking for ways to get my family to eat more homemade bone/mineral broths.
I’m also starting to practice more “whole animal” eating, which is a more sustainable way to consume animal products. This Ramen is an excellent way to do that. You’ll have eggs from the chicken, meat from the chicken (I use thighs but feel free to use your cut of choice), and the whole chicken carcass – whatever you have on hand – for the bone broth. Again, I used drumsticks for this recipe but in the past I’ve used pre-roasted wings, backs, or a leftover whole roasted chicken.
I’ve experimented with many different Ramen recipes. Some seemed too carrot-heavy, some too mushroom-heavy, some too watery and bland. In the end, I have come up with my own proprietary Ramen broth blend that I feel like is perfect in both flavor and nutrition. But feel free to experiment yourself based on your own tastes!
Ramen Broth Veggies – I used mostly veggies from our Winter CSA box, with some from New Seasons thrown in (like the mushrooms and parsley)
Ramen Broth Bones – I used a combination of leftover chicken drumstick bones from a prior dinner (I keep leftover bones in a freezer bag for making broth later!), and some pastured pork neck bones cut crosswise for extra collagen. I just bought an extra pound of those specifically for this broth, at $1.99/lb. Some people roast their bones first but I was lazy in this step and threw them straight into the Instant Pot, frozen.
Making your own bone broth is super easy and inexpensive if you A) have an Instant Pot and B) start eating more bone-in meats for dinners, then saving the bones. For that matter, you can also save clean veggie scraps (like onion skins, etc) in the freezer also. Start keeping a “broth bag” and make sure you get all the nutrients you can from the raw produce you buy!
Ramen Noodles – New Seasons has fresh yakisoba noodles in their refrigerated section so I prefer those when I can get them. They only take 3 minutes to cook and taste super fresh! I’ve used all kinds of other noodles with success though, just toss out the seasoning packet if necessary.
Meat & Eggs – I buy all meat and eggs organic/pastured whenever possible, since healthy animals are THE key to eating healthy animal products. My favorite chicken is from Marion Acres, though I’ll also buy Draper Valley (Roxy/Ranger), Aurora Valley Organic, or occasionally Smart Chicken Organic. My all-time favorite eggs are from Vital Farms. I consistently get beautiful eggs with large, orange yolks. I really believe in the sustainable model they have created to try and change the egg industry.
Garnish Veggies – like most things, I like to take a comfort dish and really load it up with veggies as much as possible. In this dish I’ll typically add carrot, green onion, spinach or watercress (the latter is pictured here), and copious amounts of mung bean sprouts. If I have cilantro or parsley on hand I’ll throw it in also!
Finally, I use organic red miso and Tamari over regular soy sauce.
A few notes to help you get this recipe perfect, the very first time!
The main part of this dish is getting an extremely flavorful and nutritious broth. I recommend you make the broth using the veggies/ratios in this recipe first. Then for subsequent makings, you can adjust flavors to your liking. For example you might want to double the mushrooms next time around, etc.
I know that not everyone owns one, but if you’re going to get serious about making broths at home (or EVEN just Ramen), I highhhhhly recommend you buy an Instant Pot. You don’t have to get a big or fancy one, and you can wait until Prime Day or Black Friday sale to get one for cheap. Honestly, if all I used my Instant Pot for was broth/ramen, I’d still be thrilled with it.
Instant Pot significantly reduces the time and electricity/gas necessary to make broth in other ways (like the Crock Pot or over the stove top). Before I owned one, I made bone broth both ways. Both of them took hours upon hours (like, 8-10 hours minimum). The Instant Pot can give you great broth in 45 minutes, although if I have the time, I tend to extend my pressurized time a bit to 1 hr 15 minutes. It just gets that much more collagen out of the bones, and concentrates the flavors a bit more.
Beyond that, making broth is so easy – you just throw your bones in the bottom (a couple pounds worth), roughly chop your veggies so their innards are exposed but absolutely doesn’t have to be pretty or small, and then cover the whole thing with 8-10 cups of water. Click on the lid and hit Start. Its really that simple! Here’s what mine looked like after I had it all thrown in:
After its done, you’ll need a fine mesh sieve strainer to separate all the leftover roughage from the broth itself. Then you’ll season the broth however you like (Tamari, Tare, Salt, add’l fresh garlic or ginger, cayenne…) and use it as a base for your other Ramen bowl accoutrements!
One more note: Almost all broth and soups taste BETTER once they have been refrigerated overnight and reheated. So if you have the time, consider making the broth the day before or weekend before, as a meal prep thing. It’ll also make dinner on the night you’re having it that much faster.
I normally calculate the calories and macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) for my recipes manually, using an app called My Net Diary.
However, with this specific recipe, I found it next to impossible to calculate nutrition information. There are just WAY too many moving parts. What you put in your broth, how much meat and fat is left on the bones, what type of bones used, how long its cooked, how you season it, how much broth you put in your bowl and what toppings you add – all will change the caloric and macro content.
As a rule of thumb, it is generally understood that homemade bone broth has about 50 calories per cup. So if your meal consisted of 2 cups of broth, 3 oz of chicken thigh, 2 oz of cooked noodles, 1 soft boiled egg, and a handful of fresh raw veggies thrown in as garnish, you’d have a pretty balanced meal that’s likely around 400-500 calories and contains plenty of protein, healthy fat, reasonable carbs, and tons of micronutrients.
Food As Medicine
One of your goals for healthy eating should be to start seeing the food you eat as functional. Food is SO much more than simple fuel. Food sends instructions to the rest of our body, and it provides us with thousands of chemicals in addition to our macro and micronutrients.
One reason I love this recipe is because the broth is SO nourishing. While many recipes for broth are based on either bone broth or vegetable broth, this recipe combines both into one super-broth. Although not usually a huge fan of mushrooms, I know they contain many beneficial myconutrients, and amp up umami flavor, so I added several in my pot. I also added plenty of ginger, a sheet of kombu seaweed, and an arbol chile:
That’s just for the broth. The high-pressure cooking extracts most of the nutrients from their physical hosts. But what else goes into your final Ramen bowl is completely up to you.
Given I don’t have any particular food sensitivities, I chose a balance between protein (chicken thigh I grilled then sliced thin), carb (1-2 cupped handfuls of yakisoba noodles) and 1-2 generous handfuls of fresh veggies/herbs as garnish. Eggs make everything decadent so a soft-boiled one goes great in this dish.
If you have picky kiddos who refuse to put fresh veggie garnishes in their Ramen, that’s OK. The broth *IS* a serving of veggies all by itself. Let them think its soy-sauce-water. 🙂 We’ve had great luck using a “Ramen Bar” serving method where everyone grabs a bowl and serves themselves. Here’s a pic of separate garnishes before they go in the bowls:
The broth and garnishes will keep in the fridge for about 5 days. The broth can also be frozen by itself. If you do this, I recommend freezing it in individual or small portion sizes. It will be faster to thaw this way. You can keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months – possibly longer, but I haven’t tested this. 🙂
Gear I Used
Here is the link to my favorite Instant Pot. You can frequently find it on sale at Amazon, but even at full price it will quickly pay for itself, especially if you cook with it often. (It’s also great for cooking meat in bulk, like braised shoulder roasts, etc). I use a 6 Qt, 7-in-1.
Whole Chicken & Veggie Ramen