Miso Noodle Soup with Greens & Pork Ribs – Grain Free (Stove Top or Slow Cooker)

Miso Noodle Soup with Greens & Pork Ribs (Grain Free)

Pork ribs are simmered in a ginger-laced broth, then accented with greens and mushrooms and layered with flavors of miso, tamari and umeboshi plum vinegar (or rice wine vinegar). If this isn’t Japanese(ish) soul food, I don’t know what is.

Up until recently we enjoyed this with rice noodles, but lately we’ve loved it with mung bean cellophane noodles or (affiliate link) kelp noodles! Both of these grain free varieties are silky and lovely and totally neutral in flavor. And my kids give the thumbs up for slurpability which – you know – I tolerate, because they are eating such a nutritious meal!

Here are some more grain-free pasta options if you are looking for alternatives. As for the base, I make my own frugal chicken stock or a broth out of drumsticks.

Miso Noodle Soup with Greens & Pork Ribs (Grain Free)

Kelp Noodles

I fell in love with Japanese food in my early 20′s. After graduating college, I worked for a large Japanese company as a project engineer. It wasn’t long until I made a career leap to teaching Pilates and other wellness pursuits, but I was there long enough to get a good glimpse into Japanese culture, get comfortable with chopsticks and even have the opportunity to travel to Japan.

Spending a week in Japan was amazing in so many ways, but the food. Oh the food! It was out of this world.

Bear with me while I reminisce about some of my many food adventures there:

  • After a 13 hour flight and landing on soil that was 13 hours ahead of Atlanta, I felt completely upside down. I didn’t really come around until later at night when Tokyo was all lit up and a Japanese coworker and I settled into a sushi boat restaurant (here’s a good photo of one so you get an idea). We feasted on sushi and sashimi washed down with a little cold sake from a sort of miniature sake waterfall.
  • The next morning (after waking up bright-eyed at 4a.m. and watching the sunrise) I wandered down to the hotel restaurant and had the choice of an American or Japanese breakfast. I chose the Japanese breakfast which consisted of salmon, miso soup, pickled vegetables and rice. Such a great way to start the day!
  • My coworkers and I (both American and Japanese) often ate lunch at the company headquarters cafe. Usually I got the tonkatsu which is a breaded, deep-fried (but somehow light tasting) pork cutlet drizzled with a dark, complex sauce -salty, sweet and tangy. Such delicious food even in a sterile corporate cafeteria.
  • Then there was the magical experience I had in a green tea shop. In the interest of time, I’ll send you over to this Matcha-Ginger Scones post to read it if you’d like. (The scones are great too!)
  • One misadventure I had was at one of the finer sushi restaurants. I was with a Japanese coworker and we were both so excited about the meal to come. He was looking forward to eating some of the more exotic selections (sea urchin for one) but I stuck to the basics. We both had a “sweet shrimp” sushi and ate it at the same time. This was the first thing I had encountered that I didn’t like. In fact I couldn’t even tolerate it and to my horror, I started gagging involuntarily. But thankfully when I looked up, he had his eyes closed and was quietly moaning with delight so I took advantage and quickly spit it into my napkin. By the time he opened his eyes I was poised and smiling!

One of the popular “fast foods” is the ramen soup bowl. These are large hearty bowls of soup brimming with meat, vegetables and umami that hit the spot for lunch. I found a recipe for a pork ramen soup in (affiliate link) Slow Cooker Revolution and adapted it for the stove top and to make it more nourishing. It is deeply satisfying like the soups I remember in Japan. My husband raves about it and the kids down it without a complaint!

I hope you get a chance to try it and love it as much as we do!

Here are some more Japanese-inspired recipes from The Nourishing Gourmet:

Do you love Japanese food? What are your favorite dishes?

Miso Noodle Soup with Greens & Pork Ribs (Grain Free)
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Japanese-Inspired
Serves: 4
This richly-flavored, decadent soup is simple to make and a family pleaser! Adapted from a recipe in Slow Cooker Revolution.
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
  • 8 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 pounds pork ribs (bone-in baby back or a leaner cut of spare ribs, if using boneless use 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 (12 ounce) package of kelp or mung bean noodles
  • 6 cups spinach or kale
  • 2 tablespoons miso (white or red)
  • 1-2 tablespoons tamari (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon umeboshi plum vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Ideas for garnishments: scallions, sliced jalapenos, seaweed flakes and/or toasted sesame seeds
  1. Over low-medium heat saute the onion, garlic and ginger in the coconut oil or ghee, careful not to let the garlic burn.
  2. Once softened, add in the chicken broth, ribs and mushrooms. (Since my kids don't like mushrooms I usually saute these on the side and serve at the table separately.)
  3. Simmer for 2 hours if you can (this will make the meat even more tender and the flavors come together better). If not, 1.5 hours is fine!
  4. Take out the pork ribs and cut the meat into bite-size pieces, removing the fat.
  5. If you are using spinach and mung bean or kelp noodles, remove the soup from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients including the meat. It's ready to serve.
  6. If you are using the kale and/or rice noodles that need some additional cooking time, you will need to add them in while the soup is simmering until they soften. Then take the soup off the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
  7. Serve the garnishments on the side.
To make this soup in the slow cooker, just add sauteed onions, garlic and ginger plus the broth, mushrooms and ribs. Cook on high 5-7 hours. Cut pork into bite-sized pieces. Stir in kale, spinach and noodles and let them cook til tender. (If you're using mung bean or kelp noodles they will be ready very quickly so add them right at the end.) Add back in the pork and season with the remaining ingredients. Serve.


Frugal Sardine Salad with Artichoke Hearts and a Creamy Lemon Shallot Dressing (Gluten and Dairy-Free)

frugal sardine salad with artichoke hearts and a creamy lemon shallot dressing

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

Fresh greens, savory sardines, and artichoke hearts are dressed with a vibrant homemade dressing for a nutritious and delicious meal.

Simple meals packed full of nourishment is the foundation I build my weekly menu on. This includes regularly eating seafood (specifically fish that is high in nutrients, sustainable, and low in toxins), but can be tough to do on a tight budget. It wasn’t until recently (with much fear and trepidation) that I cracked open my very first can of sardines. I was pleasantly surprised at the milder-than-expected scent, and buttery, flaky texture. I knew this frugal fish, packed full of necessary omega 3’s, would begin to make a regular appearance in my kitchen.

Disclaimer: Some outgoing links may be affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this blog! 

Kimi recently wrote about finding seafood untouched by radiation from Fukushima, and the information she shared about sardines had me sold. It has always been a struggle for me to figure out how to afford quality seafood. Imagine my excitement when I learned that Costco sells a pack of five BPA-free cans of wild-caught sustainably harvested sardines for less than $9! The brand I bought is boneless, skinless, soaked in olive oil, and mild to the taste. Kimi has also outlined a number of additional brands and types of sardines that she enjoys. I’m eager to try the smoked one. sometime soon!

Sardine salad with artichoke hearts and a creamy lemon shallot dressing 2

As I began brainstorming how to incorporate sardines into our meals, I considered the beautiful weather we have been experiencing lately. Spring is in full swing here in Connecticut, and hearty soups and stews have finally given way to a variety of seasonal salads. When the days get longer, and we’re busy enjoying the outdoors, a nourishing salad with little to no preparation becomes a staple for us. This frugal sardine salad has only a few ingredients and can be easily adapted with other vegetables you have on hand. I love the addition of artichoke hearts and a handful of local radishes to add crunch and beautiful color.

One of the most frugal (and healthy) practices I’ve adapted over the last few years is making my own salad dressing. It’s so easy to do! With a base of extra virgin olive oil, and some vinegar or lemon juice, you can make a unique dressing to suit any dish. For me, I love sardines mixed with citrus. Whether it’s on pasta, or a bed of greens, lemon juice pairs well with this little fish. The addition of a spicy brown or dijon mustard, and raw honey, allows this dressing to thicken up nicely.

If you’re like me and desire to add more fish into your diet, consider trying sardines. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy them! Kimi has graciously written about eating seafood on a budget and offers six tips for doing so.

Here are some other recipes you may enjoy:

Frugal Sardine Salad with Artichoke Hearts and a Creamy Lemon Shallot Dressing (Gluten and Dairy-Free)
Recipe type: Salad
This salad is a quick to prepare and full of nutrients! It can be easily adapted for any vegetables you have on hand. Pair it with a piece of crusty sourdough bread and butter if you desire. This recipe makes two large salads with dressing to spare.
  • FOR THE DRESSING (makes 1 cup):
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp - 1 Tbls raw honey
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbls spicy brown, or dijon, mustard
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 can of sardines (I used boneless, skinless in olive oil but I imagine that sardines in water or even smoked would be delicious as well!)
  • 3 radishes, chopped
  • 3-4 whole cooked artichoke hearts, cut into quarters (fresh, frozen or marinated in a jar is ok)
  • About 4-6 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
  1. Put all the salad dressing ingredients into a glass measuring cup or a large mason jar. If you have a hand blender, gently pulse the mixture together until it is a creamy consistency. If you don't have a hand blender, you can use a stand blender just as easily.
  2. Assemble your salad. On a bed of chopped romaine lettuce sprinkle your radish pieces and artichoke hearts.
  3. Open your tin of sardines, and use a fork to break apart the fish onto your salad.
  4. Top with the lemon shallot dressing.


Curried Tomato Soup (Simple, Creamy & Dairy-free)

Curried Tomato Soup (Dairy-free, creamy, and so simple)

This gentle tomato soup has plenty of pep with both curry powder and garam masala to flavor it, and coconut milk to make it incredibly creamy. This fast and easy soup is perfect for the spring days we are currently experiencing – a mix of spring rains, and sunny days. Some days are worthy of a sweater still, and there are lovely days where we break out our summer dresses. One way or another, this soup has been soothing our souls, and nourishing our bodies often. It reminds me of my Simple Thai Broth because it is so easy and simple to make, is incredibly soothing when under the weather, and also can easily be made into a main dish soup by simple additions.

We first discovered it at a local store and we all loved it with the exception of my youngest who found it too spicy. My version, which boosts better ingredients and is completely allergy-friendly for us, is kept flavorful without as much spice so that even my three-year-old enjoys it. I will be making this often.

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A few notes on ingredients:

  • I make my own chicken broth. It’s both cheap, and very nourishing. You can get my basic recipe here, and my bare-bones most frugal recipe here. (Both are delicious).
  • I used Pomi Chopped Tomatoes in this recipe. I love that they are unsalted (allowing me to add my own unrefined salt instead of the cheap salt usually used), that they are so incredibly rich in flavor, and that they aren’t canned in traditional cans (I always taste that “tinny” taste). You can substitute whatever brand you prefer easily though.
  • I used Mountain Rose Herbs Curry Powder. Delicious!
  • I used this brand of coconut milk, which is guar gum free (my oldest seems to get stomachaches from gaur gum). Another great gaur gum free, and delicious brand is this coconut cream. 
  • This is one of those recipes where owning a hand blender is really helpful!
Curried Tomato Soup (creamy-but-dairy-free, and Easy!)
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Easy to adapt and play with, this simple recipe is flavorful all on its own, or make it a main dish with the addition of precooked rice, fresh spinach and chicken chunks (it will only take a few minutes at the end of the cooking time to reheat the rice and cook the spinach and chicken). Other possible additions include topping it with fresh cilantro, fried onions or garlic, or a squeeze of lemon juice of a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It's also perfect to serve with grilled cheese.
  • 1 large yellow, white, or red onion, or 2 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons of fat or oil of choice (such as coconut oil or avocado oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • 4 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or similar starch or flour), optional
  • 1½ tablespoons each curry powder and garam masala
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 carton of Pomi chopped tomatoes, 750g/26.46 oz (or brand of choice)
  • 1 14 oz can of full fat coconut milk
  • 3 + teaspoons of unrefined salt (unless using presalted tomatoes and broth, then salt to taste).
  1. Heat the fat in a large pot over medium-high heat, until hot. Add onions, and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook, stirring here and there, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are starting to soften. Add the garlic, and cook for about 1 more minute.
  2. Add the arrowroot, and stir into the onions. Add the tomatoes, and curry powder, and garam masala, and stir until mixed. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk, and, if using unsalted broth and tomatoes, add 3 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or so.
  3. Blend using a hand blender (or, carefully in batches in a regular blender) for a smoother texture. I like mine with small bits of onions still left in it. Adjust to taste with salt. And serve.

 Related Recipes on TheNourishingGourmet.com:


Finding Seafood Untouched by Fukushima

Finding seafood untouched by Fukushima

I shared recently both the negative and positive news about radiation from Japan and our Pacific Ocean seafood. While there is much to reassure, I know that some of my readers are choosing to avoid Pacific seafood. I decided to share some of my personal research on the topic, not to try to influence anyone’s decision, but simply shared in the hope that it would be helpful to others also looking into the same topic. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the resources I’ve found for buying Atlantic seafood. This is especially geared towards those who have personally felt compelled to stop consuming all or some of Pacific Ocean seafood.

Disclaimers: I am not saying that everyone should switch all of their seafood to Atlantic, because that would be a costly decision for Pacific fisheries that could be unnecessary. Yes, there is news that there are elevated radiation levels in certain species that carry more risk of exposure, such as tuna, because of their migration patterns. But there are a variety of opinions on how concerning that should be.  For those wondering what we are currently doing, we do still enjoy Pacific seafood, but I am buying most of our canned seafood (such as tuna) from Atlantic waters, and when there are options for it, fresh Atlantic seafood about half the time. So I do both still, but have decreased some of our Pacific seafood consumption. Also, when applicable, I have used affiliate links below.

Why consider keeping seafood in your diet

You may wonder why keeping seafood in your diet should be a serious consideration when there are so many concerns about it. Here are a couple reasons to consider it: First, not only is it a great source of protein and many important vitamins and minerals, but it is a very important source of Omega-3 fatty acids (most believe that there are many who don’t make the necessary conversions necessary from vegetarian precursors of Omega-3’s, such as flax seed). Because Omega-3 fatty acids are so important for pregnant women, many studies have linked seafood consumption during pregnancy to a decrease of complications, and healthier, smarter children. It could also be important for preventing depression, heart disease, strokes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Price was also very impressed with the health of those with a seafood centered diet.

Here are just a couple of the studies supporting these claims:

Buying Fresh or Frozen Atlantic Seafood:

I’m sure that this varies completely by store and area, but I’ll just let you know what I have found locally, and that will hopefully help you know at least some things to look out for in your own area. I would recommend asking your local fish market what they carry from Atlantic waters, and checking the frozen seafood section. It’s usually easy to find the origin of the seafood on the back.

  • At New Seasons, I’ve gotten whole Mackerel from Norway (delicious, frugal, beautiful).
  • Zupans carried frozen mussels and clams that may have come from safer waters (I need to go back and check again).
  • I’ve also heard through the grapevine that a local fish market, Flying Fish Company, carries some Atlantic seafood as well.
  • A quick Google search for “where to buy Atlantic seafood online” will give you many companies that allow you to order online (just expect high shipping costs, unless you buy over a certain amount and qualify for free shipping).

Finding Seafood Untouched by Fukushima

Atlantic Canned Seafood:

Where I’ve really struck gold is finding canned seafood that is not from the Pacific Ocean. There are actually a variety of brands and options that are fairly easily found. I’ve both ordered online, and bought from a variety of nearby stores (they all seem to carry a slightly different collection). Because many of these brands are considered “gourmet”, checking out stores that cater to the gourmet or health food shopper is a good idea. There are many brands, and while I have found that all of these brands are all higher end, I’ve tried to keep with the more moderate priced brands below as it can get incredibly expensive.

Tuna: I ordered some amazingly delicious tuna from Radiant Life Catalog that comes from the southern coastal waters of Portugal. The brand name is Cole’s. Packed in olive oil, it is one of the best tasting tunas I’ve tried. (It does look much darker than the white tuna you often see, just so you’re not surprised.) This tuna is also high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Because tuna is more likely to have elevated radiation levels because of their migration patterns, this would be the most important seafood item to switch out for those concerned.

A couple other brands that I haven’t tried yet, that look promising (if you eat a lot of tuna, are pregnant, or feeding to young children, I’d check out whether these tunas are low-mercury): Ortiz Bonito Del Norte White Tuna in Olive Oil (from Spain), Frinsa Albacore Tuna in olive oil (in a glass jar) from Spain.

Wild Mackerel: Radiant Life Catalog also carries Cole’s wild mackerel in a variety of sauces that look delicious and are also fished from Portugal waters.

Sardines: Here is where I really struck gold. Sardines are a great source of protein, calcium (when the bones are left in), and Omega-3’s – A perfect health food. Through seeking out other brands I have finally found sardine brands that I actually enjoy eating, which I am thrilled about. (I’ll note my favorite brands below).

First, Cole’s also has Portuguese Sardines that come in a variety of sauces. I’m sure they are great after seeing the quality of their tuna, but I haven’t tasted them yet.

Crown Prince Wild Caught Skinless, Boneless Sardines: These are caught in Morocco, and are an excellent option for those wanting the omega-3 fatty acid benefits to seafood, without having to eat bones (which many sardines still contain, and are a good source of calcium, but not everyone’s cup-of-tea). It’s also canned in a BPA-free can.

Crown Prince Natural Brisling Sardines: Now, these were one of the great finds for me, as I found I personally really enjoy eating these sardines! First, they are much, much smaller, so texturally much better for me (I’m a texture freak sometimes). Secondly, they are smoked, and I found that I LOVE smoked sardines! I was so happy to finally find a brand that I could enjoy eating straight from the can. These are from Scotland, and are also in a BPA-free can. Check out the different flavor options too, available on Amazon.


And just this last week we got the chance to try two types of Matiz Gallego Sardines after finding them at a store we don’t normally shop at, and they were absolutely a hit. They are caught off the coast of Galicia, which has a long tradition of excellent seafood. This company uses methods that respect the biological cycles of the species, which I really like as well.

Matiz Gallego Sardines in Olive oil: These ones are a lovely basic sardine. Our can contained fairly large sardines. My oldest (who is seven) loved them. Because they are larger sardines, they aren’t my favorite. They also have a lemon flavored version, and canned octopus as well!

Matiz Gallego Sardinillas with Piquillo Peppers: Oh my goodness, this is my new favorite sardine! Even my three year old, who usually won’t eat sardines, loved this one! It has two things going for it, first “sardinillas” apparently means baby sardines, so they are small and tender, and not mushy like the big ones can be. Secondly, they have a delicious, sweet pepper sauce that just highlights the flavor enough to make you really enjoy them. I’m a fan.

Other brands I haven’t tried yet:

I also wanted to share a couple other brands that I haven’t had the chance to try yet, but fulfill similar criteria.

Bela-Olhao Sardines: These are fished from Portugal, canned within eight hours of being caught, and come in four flavors, olive oil, hot sauce, tomato and lemon sauce.

King Oscar Brisling Sardines: As I mentioned before, brisling sardines are so much smaller than other types, that texturally I like them so much better. This brand also smokes them, cans them in olive oil, and they are fished from the coastal water of Norway. BPA-free. These are also a great price on Amazon right now. Also check out all of the available flavors here.

NW Polar Kipper Snacks: Fished from North Sea and North Atlantic

Does anyone have some other great brands to add? I’d love to get more recommendations!

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