This beef udon soup is comforting, warm, and just plain delicious. Starring chewy noodles and tender beef accompanied by a flavorful, savory broth, it’s perfect for a cold night when you want something warm. This soup only needs a few ingredients, which makes it so easy to make. Just toss everything together in a pot and simmer for a little while. In less than 30 minutes, you can have a delicious bowl of soup perfect for enjoying on a chilly day.
Beef udon (sometimes called niku udon) is different than beef pho. Pho noodles are made from rice, while udon noodles are made with wheat. Pho is a Vietnamese dish while udon originates in Japan, so the flavors have some noticeable differences. Finally, pho is usually served with herbs, lime wedges, and mung bean sprouts. The udon is served more plainly with just the noodles, beef, and broth.
This homemade udon soup is the ultimate comfort food, but I’ve got plenty of other soup recipes to keep you warm all winter long. Try out this classic French onion soup topped with a cheesy crouton. It’s savory, cheesy, and perfect for a cold day. If you’re in the mood for something creamy and rich, this homemade mushroom soup with mushroom buns is oh-so-satisfying. Or, if you prefer something that’s perfect for a cool autumn day, this pumpkin soup with adorable leaf-shaped crackers can satisfy any craving.
Why You’ll Love Beef Udon
- So easy: Everything gets cooked in one pot and is brought up to a simmer. It hardly requires any cleanup, and doesn’t need any special tools.
- Textures and flavors: The savory broth, chewy udon noodles and tender sliced beef all contrast each other in textures, which makes this soup interesting to eat. The flavors all work together to make this dish absolutely delicious.
- Endlessly customizable: This soup is incredibly simple. Change up the protein, the broth, or add any number of toppings you’d like to make this soup exactly the way you will enjoy it most.
Ingredients for Beef Udon
- Udon noodles: Udon noodles are thick, chewy noodles made from wheat flour. They are sold in both the refrigerated and frozen sections of Asian markets. Use frozen or refrigerated fresh udon noodles for this recipe, not dried noodles.
- Thin sliced beef: Use frozen or fresh beef for this recipe, but make sure it is sliced very thinly. At the store, look for beef that is sliced for hot pot or cheesesteak. Alternatively, you can buy a well-marbled cut of beef and slice it yourself.
- Bonito soup stock: In Japanese udon soups, the broth base is often a dashi broth. Dashi is made using kelp, dried fish flakes, and sometimes dried mushrooms. Homemade broth is delicious but may take some time to make. This recipe calls for powdered dashi that is mixed with water to create the broth. One of the most popular brands is called Hondashi, and it can be found at Walmart, online, and at Asian markets.
- Mirin – Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine that gives acidity and sweetness to the broth. It’s used in Japanese udon recipes. It can be found online and at Asian markets, and you also may be able to find it at mainstream grocery stores in the Asian or International aisle.
- Soy sauce: Salty, savory soy sauce adds flavor and complexity to the soup.
- Green onions and ginger – Green onions and ginger add flavor to the soup. The green onions also add a pop of color and a different texture to the dish.
How to Make Delicious Beef Udon
Step 1: Make the broth.
In a pot over medium high heat, combine the bonito soup stock, salt, soy sauce, and water. Bring to a boil.
Step 2: Add the beef.
Add in the beef and skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the pot.
Step 3: Add the noodles.
Add the noodles to the pot and cook according to package directions. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with grated ginger and sliced green onion. Grab a spoon and some chopsticks and dig into a delicious, comforting bowl of soup.
Substitutions for Beef Udon
Powdered dashi broth: If you can’t find the powdered dashi broth or the ingredients to make it from scratch, you can make this soup with chicken or vegetable broth, a bouillon cube, or stock concentrate (which I prefer!). Experiment with adding different ingredients to add more flavor for an udon broth recipe without dashi.
Mirin – Mirin is Japanese cooking wine that lends acidity and sweetness to the broth. You can substitute it with a splash of rice vinegar and a small pinch of sugar.
Beef Udon Soup Recipe Variations
- Different proteins can be used in this recipe to change it up. Try thinly sliced chicken breast, peeled shrimp, cooked ground beef, or cubes of tofu.
- This soup is a great canvas for adding extra vegetables. Cooked corn, mung bean sprouts, sheets of nori seaweed, or mushrooms can be added for more nutrition and flavor.
- Try adding crispy fried onions or chili crunch for even more flavor and texture.
- Looking for more udon toppings? Try adding a soft-boiled egg, chili crisp or hot oil, fried onions, slices of fish cake (narutomaki) or even a slice of cheese.
Tips for Making Perfect Beef Udon
- If you choose to slice your own beef, here is a tip to make it easier to slice very thinly! Place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes per pound to help it firm up. Then, use a very sharp knife to make thin slices of beef.
- The beef is done when it turns from pink to brown or gray. Cooking the beef in the broth does not make it very pretty, but it will turn out tender and juicy!
- For the perfect broth, the hondashi powder to water ratio should be one teaspoon of powder for each cup of water.
This soup is a wonderful dinner or lunch for a cold day. Serve with mung bean sprouts and hot sauce for the perfect bowl. Serving this in the summer? A cider or beer would pair deliciously with this!
At room temperature – This soup should not be stored long-term at room temperature.
In the refrigerator – If you plan to make this soup ahead of time, don’t cook the noodles. Instead, store the beef and broth in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days. When you’re ready to eat, heat the broth and beef on the stove and then cook the noodles for the most enjoyable soup experience. If the noodles are stored in the broth, they absorb too much liquid, which leads to a broth with a strange texture and mushy noodles.
In the freezer – This soup can be frozen, with the liquid and noodles in separate components. Keep everything in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to three months.
Niku is a Japanese word that simply means “meat”. Niku udon is traditionally a plain bowl of noodles, beef, and broth topped with sliced green onions.
Beef bouillon can be substituted for dashi broth for this soup. However, the flavor will be different as dashi contains kelp and dried fish for a strong savory flavor that you won’t get from beef broth.
Other Beef Recipes to Try
Beef Udon (Niku Udon)
- Place the water, powdered bonito soup stock, salt, soy sauce and mirin in a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Add the beef and remove any scum that develops on the surface. Add the udon noodles and cook for as long as directed on the package (around 2-3 minutes).
- Pour the soup into bowls and top with some freshly grated ginger and green onion and enjoy!