How long can rice noodles stay in soup?
December 25, 2020 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I’m making a soup that calls for rice noodles, and says to add the noodles X minutes before serving. I’m not going to be able to do this. I’d love to be able to just dump them into the soup to cook and then keep the whole soup simmering on low until we can eat about an hour later. Sub-optimal but okay idea or terrible idea?

I know that I can cook the noodles separately and then add the cooked noodles to the soup before serving, but do I have to? Will sitting in the soup on low for an hour or so be long enough to wreck them? Using flat dried noodles (like in pad Thai), if that makes a difference.
posted by Mchelly to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think this depends on a few different factors. The thing you’d want to avoid is the noodles disintegrating and mixing into the soup so it makes basically rice flour porridge. Will the soup be on a very gentle simmer? Are your noodles kind of thick? I can see that working out okay. But if the noodles are thin and it goes above a gentle bubble for too long I imagine they will get bashed around too much and once they are very fully cooked will break apart in the agitation. Additionally, if the recipe calls for cooking the noodles separately but you want to add them dry to the pot you’ll need to add a corresponding amount of liquid into the soup to compensate. But beyond that they will likely continue hydrating the longer they sit in the soup, so you’ll need to adjust for that on the fly, which might be difficult.

I don’t think it’s a terrible idea but it might be more trouble than just setting a reminder to pop the noodles in at X time until you’ve got time to mess around with the preparation without disappointment.
posted by Mizu at 9:33 AM on December 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

You're going to want to precook the noodles and add them just before serving. It will make the difference between having noodles and having mush.
posted by rikschell at 9:36 AM on December 25, 2020 [19 favorites]

Just for clarity, the recipe says to boil the noodles in the soup, not separately. I would be able to keep it at a minimum bubble.
posted by Mchelly at 9:40 AM on December 25, 2020

To be honest-probably a terrible idea. In addition to becoming mushy-the noodles will absorb so much moisture from the soup it might throw off your ratio of broth to solids...
posted by sparringnarwhal at 10:04 AM on December 25, 2020 [26 favorites]

Sparringnarwhal has it. And after an hour it may not have any broth left at all.
posted by gryphonlover at 10:20 AM on December 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

The recipe may say to boil the noodles in the soup, but it also says only a few minutes. Boil the noodles separately (you could boil them in a broth if you wanted to maximize flavour, but honestly it's almost certainly not worth it) and add last minute if you want soup. An hour of slow simmering will give you something like thick congee if you're lucky, a burnt glutinous lump if you're not.
posted by Superilla at 10:40 AM on December 25, 2020 [7 favorites]

Cooking the noodles in the soup enhances their flavor a little bit, but not a lot, because you're supposed to add them only X minutes before serving. If your dining party is picky about texture, then I would cook (in water; it's not worth having to ladle out broth for this) / drain / chill and put it back into the bubbling hot soup to warm when it's time. You could probably even portion it out in the bowls and then just add hot soup to warm -- this is basically what pho restaurants do, isn't it?

But really, my family likes things mushy, and I don't recall ever having a problem with non-wheat noodles across many evenings of reheatings, though it's possible that we were using yam noodles or mung bean noodles.
posted by batter_my_heart at 12:21 PM on December 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

I make a soup with rice vermicelli and we often have leftovers the next day. After sitting in the fridge overnight we get sort of noodle risotto. It's tasty but a very different texture! You run the risk of getting the same effect.
posted by kadia_a at 12:33 PM on December 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

One more vote for pre-cooking the noodles. Cook them as the package says, rinse them in cold water to stop them from cooking. Maybe separate them into individual "nests" for each bowl, like batter_my_heart says, that will make serving simpler. In my experience, you don't need to reheat the noodles before serving, just pour over the hot soup.
The soup itself can be kept at a slow simmer.
posted by mumimor at 2:09 PM on December 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

Drop the noodles into the soup in a big strainer, give them a minute or 2 to pre-cook, pull them out. They will soften a bit more. When it's time, bring the soup to a full boil, add the noodles, serve. Hot soup and non-mushy noodles are worth a couple of minutes, which is all this will take.
posted by theora55 at 3:39 PM on December 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

Rice noodles are delicate. They will not withstand an hour of cooking, they will turn to mush.
posted by gnutron at 9:27 PM on December 25, 2020 [5 favorites]

Thanks everyone. I pre-cooked the noodles then rinsed in cold water, and it was perfect.
posted by Mchelly at 4:26 PM on December 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

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