Topped with crispy shrimp tempura, fish cake, and sliced scallion, this steamy bowl of soba noodle soup will bring you extra comfort on cold days! Ready in about 30 minutes from start to finish.
Soba noodles in a tasty dashi broth paired with crunchy tempura shrimp are one of the best things to eat when you are in the mood for hot noodle soup. Today, we’ll learn how to make an authentic bowl of Japanese Soba Noodle Soup (Tempura Soba) at home.
Authentic Tempura Soba Noodle Soup
You can find many variations of soba noodle soups in Japan and tempura soba is one of the popular ways to enjoy the simplicity of buckwheat noodles.
When cooked soba noodle is served with a hot warm soup at its simplest, it is known as kake soba (かけそば). Sometimes kake soba is topped with minimal garnishes such as chopped scallions or wakame seaweed. It is basically used as a broad term for any simple hot soba noodle soup. You can consider this tempura soba an extended version of kake soba.
In Japan, tempura soba can be served with different ingredients such as sweet potato, eggplant, chikuwa fish cake, etc, but shrimp tempura is certainly the most classic choice. At soba noodle shops, the chefs would fry up fantastically fresh tempura and serve straight with the soba soup. Everything is hot and fresh! It’s truly the best of both worlds.
How To Make Soba Noodle Soup
Warm soba noodle soup in a delicate kombu dashi. Topped with crispy shrimp tempura, kamaboko fish cake and sliced scallion, this steamy bowl of soba noodle soup will bring you extra comfort on cold days!
3 Components on Making Soba Noodle Soup
Soba noodles are pretty much available at any Asian and mainstream grocery stores in the US. Typically sold dried in bundles in packages, you can also find fresh soba in the refrigerated sections at the Japanese or Asian grocery stores.
I often stock up some dried soba noodles in my pantry so I can make soba soup like this anytime.
There are 2 ways to make the soup:
- Use the convenient bottle of mentsuyu, the Japanese soup base used in soba and udon noodle dishes. You just need to dilute it with hot water to make a soup broth.
- Make dashi broth from scratch and season it with the usual Japanese seasonings like soy sauce, sake, and mirin.
My recipe card below shows you both options.
If you’re up for it, you can make fresh shrimp tempura at home. I’ve shared my shrimp tempura recipe. But for a quick weeknight dinner, I rather use frozen shrimp tempura. You can find them at Japanese/ Asian grocery stores, or regular grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco, etc.
Besides shrimp tempura, I’ve also added kamaboko fish cakes, komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), and chopped scallions.
Light yet Comforting Noodle Soup for Everyday Meal
When the nutty buckwheat noodles immerse in the hot broth, you’d get a bowl of noodle soup that is light yet no lack of umami complexity. It’s perfect for everyday dinner.
Other Popular Soba Noodle Recipes You’ll Love
- Toshikoshi Soba (Japanese New Year’s Eve Noodles)
- Zaru Soba (Cold Soba Noodle)
- Oroshi Soba
- Okinawa Soba
- Soba Noodle Salad
Soba Noodle Soup
For Noodle Soup
To Make Noodle Soup
- [Optional] Soak kombu in water overnight (if you have time).
- Transfer kombu and water into a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil. When it’s almost boiling, remove kombu from water and discard.
- Add katsuobushi and simmer for 30 seconds. Then turn off the heat and let katsuobushi sink to the bottom of pan. Let Katsuobushi steep for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the dashi over a large strainer lined with a paper towel set over another saucepan. Gently twist and squeeze the paper towel to release any remaining dashi into the saucepan.
- Add mirin, sake, soy sauce, and salt in the dashi and bring the soup to simmer. Cover with the lid and set aside.
To Prepare Toppings
- Insert a knife at the bottom of kamaboko to separate it from the wooden board. Then cut the kamaboko into ¼” slices.
- Slice green onion thinly and cut komatsuna into 2 inch pieces.
- Boil the komatsuna in salted water. I first boil the hard bottom parts of komatsuna since they take longer to cook. Then add the leafy part later. Once they are tender, take them out and soak in ice water to stop cooking. Drain well.
- Bake shrimp tempura at 400ºF (200ºC) for 15 minutes, or according to the package instructions.
To Cook Soba Noodles
- Meanwhile, reheat the soup broth on low heat and boil two large pots of water. One for cooking soba noodles and the other pot for warming up the noodles after washing them (the second one is optional). Unlike pasta, you do not need to add salt to the water. Cook soba noodles according to the package instructions, but 30 seconds less. Mine says to cook for 4 minutes, so I cook for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Drain the soba noodles and wash the noodles with your hand under cold water to get rid of the slimy texture.
- [Optional – the right way] Transfer the soba noodles into the other pot of boiling water to warm up the noodles again. Once they are warm, drain and place them into a serving bowl.
- Place the soba noodles in a serving bowl. Pour hot soup over the noodles and place toppings. Sprinkle shichimi togarashi or ichimi togarashi if you like it spicy. Serve immediately.
- You can keep the leftover soup and toppings separately in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 2 days.