My kids love udon noodles. Every time we go the local Asian supermarket we end up with several packs of fresh ready cooked udon noodles. Together with the wonderful tofu that sits right next to them in the refrigerated counter we have a start to a delicious meal.

Kids like their noodles stir-fired with few veggies, tofu and soya sauce. That’s what they had for lunch today. I fancied something more exciting but restorative at the same time. What could be better than a fragrant Asian style broth with veggies, tofu and noodles. Perfect for rainy day, perfect to counteract any Christmas indulgences.

If you can’t find ready cook udon noodles buy them dried and cook according to the package instructions. They tend to come separated into portions, very handy. You can also use other type of noodles; ramen, soba, rice vermicelli... Conveniently any tofu will do for this recipe, if using soft or silken tofu just be careful not to break it up. Maybe best added after the noodles have softened. Feel free to add any other veggies; thinly sliced peppers, mangetout, green beans or mung bean sprouts will work great. To get the best out of the miso paste add it at the last minute, let dissolve into the broth but do not boil.

You can also make just the broth without the noodles and sip it. This is perfect if you have caught any of the wintery colds and infections, maybe add more garlic for even bigger healing punch. You can imagine your colds or infections melting away with every spoonful.


Serves 2-3

4 cups of light vegetable stock
1 leek
1 medium carrot
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 large clove of garlic
pinch of red chilli flakes
1/4 of Savoy cabbage
1 Tbs soya sauce
100 g of tofu
2x200g (3oz) pks of ready cook udon noodles
1 Tbs yellow miso paste
2 spring onions (scallions)
fresh coriander (cilantro) to serve

  1. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Cut the root and the dark green leaves off the leek. Cut the leek in half widthwise (you should have 2 tubes, about 2-3inches long). Cut the leeks into long thin strips (julienne).
  3. Cut the carrot into julienne (again cut it in half widthwise, than julienne)
  4. Add the carrots and leeks into the stock, simmer.
  5. While the stock is simmering finely julienne or just finely chop the ginger and garlic. Add to the stock.
  6. Finely shred the cabbage and add to the stock.
  7. Add the soya sauce. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. Cut the tofu into small dice. Add to the stock.
  9. Next, add your udon noodles and heat until they loosen up and warm through.
  10. Add the miso paste and just let dissolve. Do not boil.
  11. Last add the spring onion.
  12. Serve in large soup bowls garnished with some chopped coriander (cilantro).




It has been estimated that about 15% of the population are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers. Unfortunately I am one of them. My GP has done tests years ago to rule out Crohn’s and concluded that IBS it was. He prescribed some Fybogel sachets and antispasmodics to be taken every day. If I suffered weekly I would have probably taken all that he recommended however my IBS is not of very frequent occurrence and I hate taking any meds. Last three times I suffered were November (2011), August and September. I just couldn’t justify medicating myself with antispasmodics for something that comes once every few months. I will admit to having a trusty packet of strong painkillers in my drawer just in case the pain gets really bad, but it hardly gets used. I learnt to deal with IBS in my own way.

These are my personal strategies (different strategies work for different people):

I have tried to find a trigger food but without a huge success. Lactose is a very common trouble maker and indeed cutting out dairy has helped (less frequent flare ups) but it has not eliminated my IBS completely. Low fibre and high refined sugar diet tend to aggravate IBS however my fibre intake is generally high and refined sugar intake very low.

Stress can bring IBS on and reducing it through relaxation and meditation, or just simple "me time" is very helpful. The stress doesn't have to be only psychological I do tend to get IBS after a cold or any other infection. Hence supporting my immune system is also very important in minimising the frequency of IBS flare ups.

Listening to my body has been the first line of defence. I can spot my symptoms when they are just starting, slight tinge in my back (yes I get horrid back pain with my IBS) and going off food are the first indications of a brewing trouble. I can actually be halfway through a meal when I realise I can’t stomach another spoonful. This is a definite sign as I am generally known for my insatiable appetite.

When I spot the first signs I just have to stop eating, 24 hrs usually does the trick and can stop (or at least lessen) the pain which can be rather unbearable. The pain I experience starts in my back followed by pain in my abdomen, especially the upper part. Nausea, bloating and constipation are soon to follow. Hot bath relieves the back pain for a while, unfortunately it doesn’t last...Hot water bottle and wrapping myself in blankets helps a little too.

After 24 hrs of not eating I start gently. A plate of boiled potatoes is usually my first choice, and yes they taste amazing! Some broccoli on the side a tahini sauce seem to be gentle enough not to bring any pain back. I can't eat any raw foods for 48hrs apart from bananas when IBS attacks. And strictly no alcohol or anything with vinegar.

I have a bottle of probiotic powder and I should be taking them everyday. However I am notoriously bad at taking supplements... I try to put them in my smoothies, on top of my porridge or into my soya yoghurt...that is if I remember. I will have to set a reminder on my phone....( I am much better with my B12) Probiotics are a key treatment for IBS.

My IBS and I have been on a journey, getting to know it well had been an important strategy, I am on top of it most of the time. And I am determined the turn most of the time into always.

Here is a gentle soup that I made last time I had IBS. It is delicious and you don’t have to have IBS to make it :)



Makes 2 portions

1 onion, chopped finely
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
vegetable stock
fresh coriander (cilantro) - optional

  1. Put onion, ginger, sweet potatoes and carrot into a sauce pan.
  2. Cover with vegetable stock. It should reach about 1/2 inch above your veggies.
  3. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20-30min or till veggies are tender.
  4. Blend till smooth.
  5. Serve garnished with coriander.