When Sean and I first moved to Boston 5 years ago, we had the same fight over and over again: He’d make plans, then tell me that he’d “keep me posted” so I could join. Inevitably, one of the people he was hanging out with would change said plans in a way that left me out of the equation completely, and then I’d be left without something to do on a weekend night. This distressed me greatly.
Eventually, I decided that I needed to do something about it: I couldn’t change what Sean planned, and I couldn’t change what his friends wanted to do. Instead, I realized that I needed to learn to love being alone on a weekend night.
Thus began my experiment with learning to love my own company. For several months, I designated certain nights as “Jenni time.” I made recipes I loved, watched crappy-but-great movies, bought candles to burn, wore sweatpants, talked to my faraway friends on the phone, painted, read books, wrote, and baked cookies and cakes. Eventually, instead of feeling intense FOMO (fear of missing out) on those nights, I actually started to look forward to them more than my nights full of social outings. To this day, I still kick Sean out of the house every few weeks so I can have a date night with myself.
For me, a huge part of learning to love my own company was the realization that I could cook whatever I wanted to eat when I was alone, no strings attached. I usually cook for people, so I generally meal plan with Sean’s tastes in mind. But when I’m home alone, I can make whatever the hell I want to eat. Sometimes that’s spaghetti carbonara. One night I made a whole roast chicken, a mediterranean quinoa salad, and homemade bread. Often my comfort meals involve soft boiled or poached eggs, which feel super luxurious.
Lately, though, I’ve been hooked on making myself this quick miso soup. I hesitate to call it ramen, but I will anyway — despite not investing hours in making a broth, it’s a recipe inspired by all the flavors of ramen and it tastes pretty darn close. I’d usually give you a recipe for a one-person bowl, but this is so good that you’ll want the leftovers. Plus, you can adjust all the ingredients depending on what you have in the fridge, and you can tailor the bowl to your own likes and dislikes. It’s a perfect date night meal… for one.
30-Minute Miso Ramen
Makes 3-4 servings.
- 2 t vegetable oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 T sesame oil
- 6-8 cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
- 2 T soy sauce
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (usually this is one box)
- 2 T miso paste, whisked into 2 T water
- 1 t rice wine vinegar
- eggs (I make one egg per person — you can adjust accordingly)
- 3 pinches black pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- 4 oz spaghetti noodles OR ramen noodles OR soba noodles
- Optional toppings: greens (arugula, spinach, kale, sprouts), avocado, Sriracha, sliced green onions, lime, cooked yellow corn, sliced jalapeno, tofu, bean sprouts, hoisin sauce, pickled red onions, chicken (roasted and shredded), cooked shrimp, pork
Heat the vegetable oil at medium heat in a soup pot or large saucepan, then add the onion and saute until it starts to look opaque. Add your garlic and ginger and cook for one minute more. Then, add the mushrooms to the pot with the sesame oil and let it all cook down for 3-4 more minutes, until the mushrooms start to release their juices and look brown. Add the soy sauce to pot and let the mixture simmer for one more minute, then fill the pan with the broth, put a lid on it, turn up the heat, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Meanwhile, if you want soft boiled eggs on your soup (you do, I promise) boil water in another small pot (the water should be about 2 inches high, enough to cover an egg completely). When the water comes to a boil, lower it to a simmer and add the egg(s) to the pot. Set a timer for 6 minutes.
When the soup broth starts to boil, add your noodles, a dash of rice vinegar, and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Let the noodles cook through, about 6 minutes.
Once the egg time ringers, remove the egg(s) from the pot with a slotted spoon and run them under cold water.
If you’re adding avocado, greens, chicken, corn or tofu (or anything else heavy), fill the bottom of a soup bowl with those ingredients. Use tongs to layer the noodles and mushrooms on top, then fill the bowl with broth. Top your soup with sesame seeds, green onions, lime, Sriracha, Hoisin, sprouts, pickled onions… or whatever else sounds good!
As a finishing touch, nest one peeled soft boiled egg in the center of your bowl.