Noodles in a Jar – the perfect lunchtime snack!
I get asked regularly, “What would make a healthy, lunchtime meal for a school child’s lunchbox?” But as much as we want children to have a nutritious meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the reality is that a simple sandwich, a piece of fruit and plenty of fresh air is all they need to keep them going until home time; especially as many children have a substantial tea when they get indoors.
I’m more inclined to help the grown-ups who often struggle to eat properly at lunchtime.
The working adult worries me the most – diminished lunch breaks, snatching something quick on the go, scoffing food at their desk, eating greasy take-aways, paying ridiculous prices for a filled roll or forgoing lunch altogether.
Mundane lunches leading to calorie induced foraging come 5pm.
All that can change with these simple to prepare, convenient and easy to eat noodle soups in a jar. If you’ve only got a short lunch break, these are ideal and can also be conveniently eaten, if sadly, you’re chained to the desk.
There are no rules; no wrongs, just a few simple points to bear in mind whilst you assemble your jars. The idea is that everything is piled into the jar in clean layers; without the items swilling around before you’ve added the water, hence, keeping your ingredients fresher for longer.
What you need to make your Noodles in a Jar
I like to use a ½ Litre Kilner Jar with a clip-top but a mason jar would work just as well. The jar can be as small or large as you want it to be; but unless you plan on making, and subsequently eating, vast quantities of the soup try to keep the size at around 500ml or less. A pint size is ideal.
A flavour base is very important for your noodle jars, as otherwise you’d just be eating noodles swimming in hot water, which would be extremely disappointing considering that we are trying to achieve maximum flavour for minimum effort and fuss. Feel free to use any savoury paste/cube/stock that you prefer. I’m trying to get through some miso paste (fermented soya bean paste) at the moment but a soup stock paste, curry paste etc can be used.
Soy sauce, coconut milk, sesame oil, chilli sauce, tomato paste, etc can be used as extra flavour enhancers.
This is a great way to use leftover cooked meats – especially the scraggly ends of a Sunday roast; alternatively some frozen prawns, dried mushrooms or hearty greens would provide satisfying ingredients to make your pot tasty, nutritious and filling.
The noodle part of your soup can take many forms: dry vermicelli, cooked ramen or yakisoba noodles, cooked udon noodles, there are others too. For total convenience you could even use a pouch of pre-cooked noodles from the supermarket.
I always like to top my soup jar with fresh ingredients such as coriander leaves, sliced spring onions and a wedge of lime.
Assembling your noodle soup jars
Assembling the jars is a simple process:
Empty jar → Flavour base → Meat/Prawns/Veggies → Noodles → Fresh ingredients.
1st: Place your flavour base at the bottom of the jar and add any of your flavour enhancers. Make sure to spread this around so that when you pour the hot water it will mix through easier.
2nd: Add your meat, prawns or veggies to the jar. It doesn’t matter if they mix into the flavour base but try to create layers of different items.
3rd: Pack the noodles down – if they are cooked they might stick a bit but they will untangle once you add the hot water.
4th: Top with the fresh ingredients. Seal and refrigerate.
Place in the office fridge when you get into work but take the jar out at least 1hour before you think you’ll be available to have your lunch, as otherwise the jar and the ingredients will be very cold and your soup will become tepid very quickly. The jar will keep unrefrigerated for a couple of hours.
When you are ready to eat;
1st: Fill the jar with boiling water, cover and steep for 3 mins. A recently boiled kettle is best but I use the tea urn at work.
2nd: Stir thoroughly with chopsticks or a fork, making sure to scrape the paste from the bottom of your noodle pot so that the flavour mixes throughout the whole soup.
3rd: If you stored the fresh ingredients separately to the rest of the soup in the jar, scatter them over the top of the soup and eat right away.
It is probably easier to mix the soup as you decant the jar into a bowl but your soup can be eaten directly from your noodle jar; especially if you are trying to ease on the washing up and eating at your desk.
I’ve tried two flavour combinations so far with very similar ingredients in both:
King prawn and coconut milk with dried vermicelli noodles, and
Beef with miso, tomato paste and soya sauce with cooked ramen noodles;
both layered with baby sweetcorn, sugar snap peas, mange tout, spring onions and coriander.
The pots can be put together in a matter of minutes and eaten just as quick. I definitely think I’ll be trying to make noodle pots for lunch again. I’m already thinking about a pork belly and ramen noodle pot for next time or maybe a chicken, vegetable and vermicelli soup pot or maybe a lemon grass, ginger and chilli marinated king prawns noodle pot with coconut milk, fish sauce, lime and vermicelli noodles. Lots of fresh coriander.
Pot noodle …but posh.