It may be difficult to find fresh udon for this homey Asian-inspired soup, but 1 lb. (500 g) dried udon can be substituted. Just follow the cooking instructions on the package. You can also use fresh Chinese egg noodles in place of the udon.
Udon Noodle Soup with Pork Belly and Soft Eggs
8 cups (2 qt./2 l) chicken broth
1 pork belly slab, about 2 1/2 lb. (1.25 kg)
2 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
7 garlic cloves
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. light sesame oil
2-inch (5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
5 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./80 ml) low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 oz. (45 g) dried shiitake mushrooms
3 packages (7 oz./220 g each) fresh udon noodles
3 green onions, white and tender green portions, thinly sliced
Preheat an oven to 500°F (260°C).
In a roasting pan, combine 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) of the broth and 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) water. Place the pork belly, fat side up, in the pan. Brush with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cut 4 of the garlic cloves in half lengthwise and scatter into the broth along with the star anise and cinnamon sticks. Roast until the top is golden and beginning to bubble, about 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C) and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork belly registers 145°F (63°C), about 1 hour longer. Remove from the oven, tent the pan with aluminum foil, and keep the pork warm in the braising juices.
Mince the remaining 3 garlic cloves. In a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the sesame oil. Add the garlic, ginger and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 6 cups (48 fl. oz./1.5 l) broth and the soy sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the dried mushrooms and simmer until very soft, about 15 minutes.
Raise the heat to high and return the broth to a boil. Add the udon noodles and cook until al dente, about 4 minutes or according to the package directions. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Gently lower the eggs into the pan and cook for exactly 8 minutes. Drain, rinse the eggs under cold water and peel. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise.
Transfer the pork belly to a cutting board and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch (2-cm) slices.
Using tongs, fill bowls with the udon noodles. Ladle the broth over the noodles and top each with a few slices of pork and 2 egg halves. Garnish with the green onions and serve. Serves 4 to 6.
Find more soup recipes for every season and occasion in our cookbook
Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day, by Kate McMillan.