Usually this time of year, I'm thinking soup. It's winter here in central Ohio and after last year's fun with all the negative temperatures, we're not really expecting a mild or short winter for 2015 but believe me we're all hoping for an early spring. I have my tried and true soup recipes my husband and I really like, but let's face it, I like to cook and try new things. So I was out looking for soup recipes and I found Half Baked Harvest's recipe for Crockpot Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup with Curry Roasted Acorn Squash, which you can find here.
Just looking at it made me jealous that someone else has eaten it but I haven't. It's beautiful. The noodles, the rich dark broth, the greens from the onions on top, the richness of the egg and caramelized pork. Seriously? Yeah, I'm in...
I went through the recipe and decided not to add the fish sauce or (I know, I know) prepare the curry roasted acorn squash, so I'm modifying it a bit. I did buy soy sauce, rice vinegar, curry paste, chili paste and Chinese Five Spice. I'll probably reuse these ingredients while the fish sauce would have to be thrown out after this recipe. I don't like doing that so I just decided to leave it out. I also didn't see any acorn squash at the store but I'm sure I'll try it as as side dish to something else.
So at exactly 8 a.m. on a cold morning, I added a 3.5 lbs. of lovely pork to the crockpot, stirred together exactly what Half Baked Harvest told me to, poured everything over the pork, turned on my crockpot and left the kitchen to let the magic happen.
After 7 hours, the house smelled amazing which is definitely a good start. I took out the pork and shredded it on a cookie sheet. There's not much to it. You can take two forks and gently press on the meat and it falls apart then you can tear it shreds. I admit it. I don't shred much. I like large pieces of meat not a bunch of strings. Just make sure you remove all the tendons and large fat pieces that are not that pleasant to eat.
After that, I strained my soup although Half Baked Harvest didn't mention to do this. After simmering in the pot for 7 hours, you've got a lot of bits in there and I thought it would be a nice way to clear the broth. I put the broth back into the crock pot and added the ramen noodles and mushrooms and stirred it all together.
Now to caramelize the pork. In a large skillet, I added a little canola oil, some pork I drizzled with soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar and let it caramelize nicely. Just don't over crowd the pan. Each piece of meat should have some space around it.
I finished with the pork, which took about 20 minutes and put 1/2 of it back into the pot with the noodles and mushrooms. I put the lid on it and let go for another 20 minutes or so until I was ready for dinner. I julienned some carrots and green onion to garnish my soup bowls with. I admit I forgot the egg on top but that's okay.
This turned out really good and my husband and I enjoyed this soup. The broth is really, really good, spicy and full of flavor. The pork is soft and delicious and its fairly easy to make so another win. I can see adding more vegetables at the end such as cabbage or broccoli or baby corn to it. Either way its definitely a keeper.