Whether you’re sick or sad or just need a hug from your food, this chicken soba soup recipe brings all the good vibes. This post will teach you all about shichimi togarashi and how to use it in this comforting soup recipe.
You can serve with or without noodles, or you can add soup vegetables to the broth–like potatoes, sliced shiitake mushrooms, or carrots–to make it a one-pot wonder. The broth is the star, so whatever you serve it with will be delicious.
What is shichimi togarashi?
I wrote about shichimi togarashi in a post before about my favorite garnishes, but I’ll give you the low-down on this extra special Japanese spice blend in this post as well.
Shichimi tōgarashi, sometimes called shichimi, is a spice condiment originating in Japan. The word Shichimi translates to seven flavors and tōgarashi translates to chili pepper. In short, it is a spicy pepper blend that has seven flavors that all work harmoniously. If you pick up a bottle of shichimi, it will contain these key ingredients: chili flakes, sesame seeds, and seaweed (nori). As for the remaining ingredients, that depends on the producer. The base of chili flakes, sesame, and seaweed creates a spicy, nutty, umami blend unlike any other spice blend you will ever try.
Although the recipe will change slightly from brand to brand, the seven ingredients are generally as follows:
- Chili flakes
- Sesame seeds
- Orange peel
- Poppy seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sansho (Japanese pepper)
Though, there are some variations of this base recipe depending on the manufacturer. For instance, S&B, one of two major Japanese food producers, uses ginger instead of hemp seeds. S&B also omits poppy seeds and counts black and white sesame seeds as two ingredients. The cardinal rule of shichimi is that it must be precisely seven ingredients.
When was shichimi togarashi invented?
Shichimi dates back to the 17th century and was produced by herb dealers in Edo, now known as Tokyo. The inventor was an herbalist at Yagenbori Herb Shop, located in the Higashi-Nihonbashi district of Tokyo. The mixture was sold in pharmacies because of its medicinal value and was sometimes referred to as Yagenbori as a tribute to the inventor. It soon soared in popularity and was sold at festivals and grew to become a staple in Japanese cuisine. Like salt and pepper in the West, it can be found on many Japanese kitchen tables.
There are still shops operating from the 17th and 18th centuries in Japan where you can buy the very same recipe that was originally sold to pharmacies. The Yagenbori shop is located in Asakusa, where you can buy the original, moderately spicy blend. This blend contains grilled dried pepper and Satsuma orange peel. The blend is sold in a variety of wooden containers, a take (tube), taru (barrel), or hyotan (gourd-shaped). You can also buy shichimi from Shichimiya Honpo or Yawataya Isogoro.
This combination of fiery, nutty, and slightly numbing is somehow still a little sweet with just a kick of umami, thanks to the orange and nori. Sprinkle this on top of your noodle bowls or on grilled yakitori. But really, throw this condiment on almost anything, and it will bring a delicious flavor and beautiful color to your dish. Try it on poached eggs or avocado toast, or sprinkle it on top of freshly sliced radishes as a crunchy side dish. Mix it with mayonnaise and a little lemon juice, and drizzle it on grilled corn. In the case of this recipe, shichimi togarashi acts as the flavor base for a super (or should I say, “souper”) comforting chicken broth.
How to make this chicken soba soup recipe:
Shichimi togarashi is the main flavor of this soup, but it pairs so well with the rich, flavorful homemade broth.
Start by simmering a whole chicken until it’s almost falling off the bone. Strain–if you like–and then shred the bird. From there, simply season the broth with lots of shichimi togarashi and a little chili oil if you like. Add the cooked chicken back in and let it simmer for a while. Once the broth finishes simmering, simply ladle over cooked soba noodles. You could also use udon or ramen if you prefer.
It’s a simple soup, but not lacking in flavor, which makes it a perfect recovery-from-anything kind of meal.
Chicken Soba Soup
- Large pot
- Fine mesh sieve
- 4 pound chicken, giblets reserved for another use
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 jalapeño, halved
- 1–2 tablespoons shichimi togarashi
- 1–2 teaspoons chili oil or sesame oil, optional (you can use a little of both if you like)
- 3 scallions, white parts minced and green parts sliced on a bias; keep the green and white parts separate
- 9.5- ounces soba noodles
Boil the chicken:
- Place the chicken in a pot and cover with water. Season liberally with salt and add the sliced onion and halved jalapeño. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour. Skim off any foam as it floats to the surface.
Shred the chicken:
- Remove chicken from the broth and debone it once it’s cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken meat and reserve the carcass for another use.
Strain the broth:
- Pour the broth through a sieve into a large bowl. Wipe out the pot and return the broth to the pot. Taste and season.
Finish the broth:
- Return the broth back to a boil and add the shredded chicken, shichimi togarashi, and chili or sesame oil. Add the minced white parts of the scallions. Simmer for an additional 30 minutes until the broth is dark and rich. Taste and add more salt or shichimi togarashi, if needed.
Cook the noodles:
- As the broth finishes cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the soba according to package instructions. Drain, rinse, and divide between bowls.
- Ladle the chicken and broth over the cooked soba and garnish with the sliced green parts of the scallions. Enjoy!