So first the honesty declaration- my knowledge of Japanese cuisine is very limited so this recipe is completely non-authentic but does use some Japanese ingredients. It is also very quick, super-tasty and feels like it's very good for you.
The soup uses dashi stock as a base, and since the chances of me boiling some edible kelp to make my own are highly limited, I use a powder made by Shimaya. I am really not sure if this is a 'good' brand or not (it is made in Japan), but it is the only one I could find in Cambridge. It does contain MSG, which I guess is the seaweed/umami substitute, but I don't know if this is standard practice in ready-made dashi or not.
The other components of this soup are whatever you want really. I gently fried some thinly sliced garlic, mild chilli and spring onions in as little vegetable oil as possible, added a sachet of dashi stock powder and a bit less than a litre of water and brought it up to a simmer. Chinese leaf, sugar snap peas, baby sweetcorn and oyster mushrooms then went into the stock to poach for around five minutes, rapidly followed by some raw prawns and thin egg noodles. After another five minutes or so, when the prawns were cooked through, I finished the soup off with a tablespoon or so of dark soy sauce. The resulting soup was full of tender vegetables and soft noodles in a stock which is intensely savoury with a hint of chilli, and was more than enough for two hungry people.
This is a soup that can be made with any vegetables or type of noodle, with as much heat as you like, and for me it manages to tick all the comfort food boxes without being at all stodgy.
Shimaya dashi no moto stock powder
I rate it 8.5/10 (though would probably prefer an MSG-free version)
Cost: Around £1.80 for 50g box containing 5 sachets