If you’ve seen this bizarre little interpretation of the Little Mermaid story by Hiyao Miyazaki, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But for the rest of you.
Ponyo is a fish. Sorta. When she meets a little boy named Sosuke, she is introduced to the human world…and human food (ham). I can’t even try to nutshell this story for you. The plot structure is chock full of details that are never explained yet are important to the overall arc of the story…oh who am I kidding? Miyazaki made this movie for little kids, and I think his general plan was, “Kids don’t need complex explanations, so I’m just going to let Ponyo escape from her drag queen father and his magic pesticide sprayer, give her some chicken feet and Christ’s ability to walk on water and call it good.”
So there’s this adorable scene where, after being taken in by Sosuke and his mother, the two kids are warmed up on a stormy night by ramen soup.
One of the first times that Leo slept over, Jeff and I were racking our brain for a special dinner that the kids would eat. What if we made Ponyo soup?
Turns out I’m not the first person to have this genius idea. Officially, the soup is ramen with egg, ham and green onions, and I found two traditional Ponyo recipes here and here. But at the time I didn’t have any guidelines, so we made up our own vegetarian version.
Miso (I always use white, but any type is fine)
Ramen, soba or udon noodles (One package ramen per person. If you are using soba or udon, you’ll have to eyeball your proportions)
Veggies (This time we used carrots and baby bok choi and cabbage. Any combo is fine…just slice ’em thin and small)
Shitake mushrooms, sauteed first.
Nori or dulse
Bacon or ham (veggie or the real deal if you eat piggies*.)
Cook your noodles until tender. If you are using ramen, they do not need to be boiled, but instead soaked briefly in boiling water. If you are using veggies that could use a little blanching, add them in during the last couple of minutes, then scoop out with a slotted spoon before draining your noodles.
Also, before draining your noodle water, reserve one cup of water per person/serving for the soup. To each cup, add 1 T of miso and stir until dissolved.
While your noodles are cooking, saute your bacon and mushrooms (seperately), if using.
Fry one egg per person.
If you are using nori sheets, I like to cut them up into strips and then smaller pieces from each strip.
The most difficult thing about this soup is prepping all the toppings seperately. You can keep it simple by just doing eggs, bacon and one veggie.
When all your components are ready, assemble your soup.
Put a hearty helping of noodles in each bowl (this soup is really all about the noodles, come on). Arrange your toppings over the noodles, saving the seaweed for last. Pour the miso over, and voila!
If you are eating with a kid, sit back and enjoy the entertainment…
What do you put on top of your Ponyo soup? Let me know!
(*The isolated soy protein in that “bacon” up there is not ideal, but I am back to eating no meat. I just can’t do it folks. I was on a fish kick for a while, and I also had a bacon month when we were camping. But when I truly feel my heart, when I deepen in, it grieves me too acutely to eat animals. We played with some baby pigs at the last fair that we went to, and that did it. When I am far enough away from contact with animals, I can almost take an intellectual stance that makes meat eating possible. But since I don’t plan on living in this concrete jungle forever…Anyway, doing bone broth for now. We’ll see what happens.)