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Noodle Soup with Peanut Sauce

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Noodle Soup with Peanut Sauce is my homemade version of Ichiban-style noodles. No styrofoam cup, no additives and preservatives; just plain old rice noodles with a tasty, peanut flavoured broth.

For years it has been reported how unhealthy instant noodle soups are yet the convenience of these just-add-water and serve-in-the-cup soups are irresistible to many. (I too have eaten my share and served them to children I love.) This homemade recipe is a guide and I encourage you to challenge yourself to create your version.

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Noodle Soup Your Way

In my ‘World of Rice Noodles’ cooking class we make this soup. The original recipe was called Dan Dan Mein noodles, Chinese street vendor’s noodles from Sichuan province. Traditionally Chinese street noodles are topped with dried shrimp and canned preserved vegetables that add a pungent, crunchy taste. I’ve used both of these ingredients but over time my recipe evolved to be a quick noodle soup with the ingredients I had on hand.

I list Chinese black bean sauce as an ingredient because I do always have it on hand. It’s in my fridge and I make this homemade Chinese black bean sauce once or twice a year. The recipe is posted separately but to be complete I have also included it here. I think it’s worth it, but if you’re not ready to try it yet substitute with additional soy sauce, hoisin sauce or oyster sauce. The taste won’t be the same but you may create something you love.

I encourage you to taste and adjust, mess around with it and add other ingredients you like until you have a recipe worth repeating. At the end of this post I’ve listed more recipes that use black beans and the black bean sauce to entice you to try it.

Chinese Black Bean Sauce with the original container of preserved black beans.
Chinese Black Bean Sauce -photo credit Jim Little

Storing and Using Rice Vermicelli Noodles

I buy one-pound packages of vermicelli rice noodles at the Asian grocery store. These are the skinny noodles I also use to make Vietnamese salad rolls. They are dry and brittle and are packaged up like a ball of wool  so they fly everywhere when you break off the amount of noodles you need.  To prevent this mess I unwrap a brand new package of noodles and transfer them right into a huge zippered plastic bag. When I use them I pull off the amount I need right in the bag. Eventually I discard the tiny broken noodles that settle to the bottom of the bag.

Boiling Water vs Hot Tap Water

To soften rice noodles the method I prefer is to pour boiling water over them in a bowl and let them sit for five minutes. Many recipes warn against over cooking the noodles and suggest you soak the noodles in hot tap water and let them sit for fifteen minutes. I can’t seem to get the right texture with that method so just find a way that works for you and stick with it.

For even more information check out this post, How To Use Rice Noodles.

How to Use Rice Noodles
How to Use Rice Noodles -photo credit Jim Little 

Get The Tools – Organize For Success

You don’t need too many tools to make a quick bowl of soup but having the right ones goes a long way to making the process easy. Where you store these items is half the battle and I find that less is more. If things are all stacked up and behind other dishes then that won’t be easy. Streamline the process so this is a fast and easy recipe.

Strainers – With a large strainer you can put it in the sink and dump your noodles into it. Some would prefer a smaller strainer with a handle.

Measuring Cups – I like any job where I can measure right into a measuring cup and then keep working with it as the bowl. So I own lots of different sizes of pyrex measuring cups to be able to do that.

Experiment And Share What You Learn

I did try one other method putting dry noodles into my lunch soup bowl and pouring the microwaved liquid over them. Thinking they would cook between 7:00 a.m. when I did it and 12:00 when I ate my lunch. Sadly, when I reheated my soup at work the texture of the noodles was not quite right. I also learned that frozen peas do actually require a little cooking time so this was a sort-of fail. I was able to eat my soup but it wouldn’t do that again. Maybe I should have made this in my thermos?

I’d love to hear in the comments below if you tried any unconventional method to create an “instant soup”.

More Recipes With Black Beans and Black Bean Sauce

Everyday Vegetable Stir Fry

A bowl of my everyday Vegetable Stir Fry served on rice
Everyday Vegetable Stir Fry -photo credit Jim Little

Mongolian Pork Chops

Mongolian Pork Chops on the grill.
Mongolian Pork Chops -photo credit Jim Little

Asparagus with Black Bean Butter Sauce uses the whole black beans

Asparagus with Black Bean Butter Sauce
Asparagus with Black Bean Butter Sauce -photo credit Jim Little

Hoisin Glazed Pork Ribs made with whole black beans

Hoisin Glazed Pork Ribs
Hoisin Glazed Pork Ribs -photo credit Jim Little


3 oz dried rice vermicelli noodles
¼ cup boiling water
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Chinese black bean sauce (or more soy sauce)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp white vinegar
GARNISHES - minced green onion, a handful of salted peanuts and chopped cilantro
2 cups gluten free chicken stock
a handful of cooked chicken, pork or shrimp
any raw or cooked vegetables you like
2 Tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
2 Tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
½ cup GF chicken stock
1 Tbsp GF soy sauce
2 Tbsp Sherry
1 tsp sugar
1½ tsp cornstarch


Pour boiling water over noodles in a large bowl and soak for 5 minutes. Drain. Divide into 2 soup bowls.
While the noodles are soaking combine peanut butter, boiling water, soy sauce, sesame oil, black bean sauce, garlic, sugar and vinegar in a pyrex measuring cup. Stir until smooth (microwave if needed).
Heat chicken stock to boiling in microwave or on the stove. Add peanut mixture to stock and pour over noodles. Taste for salt, especially if you use unsalted stock.
Add toppings of your choice.
Combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, sherry, sugar and cornstarch in a measuring cup and set aside.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat.
Add the oil, black beans and garlic. Stir-fry about 10 seconds.
Add liquid mixture to the pan and cook stirring until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
Cool. Salt to taste.
Puree with hand blender if desired.
Store in fridge for several months. Makes about ¾ cup sauce.


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