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8 Mar

Primal Ramen Soup

Primal Ramen SoupRamen is Japanese soup made from pork broth, roasted pork, boiled noodles, and various toppings like vegetables, seaweed and egg. For many, the noodles are the main ingredient that the dish revolves around. But Primal ramen puts all the attention on the pork. Slow roasted pork, smoked pork shanks and bacon all play a role in making ramen that’s deeply flavorful and satisfying, even without noodles.

If you’ve traveled to Japan, then you’re familiar with the ubiquitous ramen shop serving steaming bowls of ramen that reflect the shop’s own distinctive style. If you were ever a hungry teenager or college student, then you’re definitely familiar with instant Top Ramen. This recipe is a far cry from instant ramen and not as labor intensive as ramen made in restaurants. It does take a little time to make (most of it hands-off) but suddenly all the ingredients come together. You’re rewarded with delicious steaming broth, tender slices of pork, vibrant collard greens and garnishes of egg, scallions and nori.


If nothing else, what you can take away from this recipe is the immensely flavorful and gelatin-rich broth made from both chicken and pork. It’s smoky, meaty and suitable for almost any type of soup you want to make.

Recipe Note: Before making this recipe, read through the entire list of ingredients for each component to make sure you have everything. This soup is easiest to make over the course of 2 days. Day one, make the broth and roast the pork. Day two, prepare the garnishes and re-heat the broth right before serving.

Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 4 to 6 hours of hands-off time, plus 1 hour of active cooking

Ingredients for 4 bowls of Ramen:

  • 8 cups ramen broth (see below) (1.9 liters)
  • 2 pounds roasted pork butt, sliced thinly (see below) (907 g)
  • 1 bunch sautéed collard greens (see below)
  • 3 zucchini, cut into very thin, noodle-like strips
  • 4 hard boiled or poached eggs
  • 2 sheets of nori, 2 cut into strips
  • A handful of finely chopped scallions

Instructions for Putting Together Bowls of Ramen:

Before serving the ramen, gently reheat the broth on the stove. Add the zucchini “noodles’ and simmer for five minutes. Pour equal amounts of broth and zucchini into 4 bowls, then add slices of roasted pork, a spoonful of collard greens, an egg, strips of nori and a sprinkle of scallions.

Ramen Broth Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of kombu
  • 3 quarts water (3 liters)
  • 2 ounces dry shiitake mushrooms, rinsed (57 g)
  • 2 pounds of chicken legs, necks and/or backs (907 g)
  • 2 to 3 pounds smoked ham shanks or hocks (907g to 1.4 kg)
  • 1/2 bunch of scallions, cut in half
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into fourths
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

Ramen Broth Instructions:

Combine the kombu with the water in a large stock pot. Bring the water to a simmer then turn off the heat and let the kombu steep for 10 minutes.

Remove the kombu and discard. Add the shiitake mushrooms. Turn the heat up to high and bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down so the water stays at a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pot with a slotted spoon and discard.

Add the chicken and pork shanks to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Skim off any foam that gathers on the top. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the chicken meat pulls easily off the bone.

Step 1 - Broth

Remove the chicken (save for another meal) and add the scallions, onions, and carrots and simmer with the shanks for another hour. Replenish the water as needed to keep the meat covered.

Step 2 - Broth

Strain the vegetables and shanks from the broth. Discard or eat the veggies and save the meat from the shanks for another meal. Strain the broth again through cheesecloth if you want really clear broth.

This broth can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated.

Roasted Pork Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 pounds pork shoulder or butt (907g to 1.4 kg)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (10 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2.5 ml)

Roasted Pork Instructions:

Bring the roast to room temperature and rub it down with the salt and pepper mixture.

Preheat the oven to 250 ºF (121 ºC).

Put the roast in a roasting pan that fits it snugly and roast until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, about 4 to 6 hours, uncovered, basting every hour or so with juices and fat that accumulate in the pan. Take it out of the oven and let cool completely before slicing.

You’ll have more than enough pork for the ramen. Save leftovers for another meal or freeze it for later.

Collard Greens Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 piece of uncooked bacon
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (5 ml)

Collard Greens Instructions:

Remove the leaves from the center rib and stem. Coarsely chop the washed leaves.

In a wide skillet (that has a lid) over medium-high heat, add the piece of bacon. When it is halfway cooked and has released some fat, add the collards to the skillet. Mix well so the leaves are coated in fat. Let the leaves wilt a little then add the sherry vinegar and a 1/2 cup (118 ml) of water. Put a lid on the skillet and simmer over medium-low for 10 to15 minutes or so until tender.

Alternately, the greens can simply be sautéed in olive oil instead of bacon.

Primal Ramen Soup

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Yes. This is very similar to a recipe I’m working on perfecting today using a pressure cooker! Soft boiled/marinated eggs included!

    Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on March 8th, 2014
    • +1 to the marinated eggs. I coincidentally just made these as an experiment. Soft boiled (7.5ish minutes) and then marinated overnight in a half soy sauce, half rice vinegar mixture. They were so good they didn’t even make it into the ramen.

      josh wrote on March 8th, 2014
      • I hope you were using gluten free soy sauce! Standard soy sauce preparations use wheat.

        Daniel wrote on March 10th, 2014
        • Nope, didn’t have any on hand. Next time.

          josh wrote on March 10th, 2014
  2. This is how I make all my soups. Until I ran out of good bones, I had a perpetual stockpot going with beef bones. If I wanted to make soup, I just ladled some broth into a saucepan, added the veggies and some meat, and let it go until the veggies were slightly soft. For a little extra flavor, I’d add fish sauce.

    Soup should be simple.

    His Dudeness wrote on March 8th, 2014
    • A perpetual stock pot on the stove… I used to do that when my kids were younger. It was the most awesome – available anytime – nutritious and flavoured broth I ever had. I have heard using a slow cooker is a good way. This has made me think of going back to perpetual broth…love Mark’s recipe…going to try that.

      Jacq Flying Primal wrote on March 9th, 2014
  3. Oh, this looks divine! Hmmmmm….. why not use kelp noodles?

    Kathleen wrote on March 8th, 2014
    • The zucchini is an inexpensive alternative. You certainly could use kelp noodles alongside them or instead of them if you are so inclined. But kelp noodles are pricey and may not be in everyone’s budget.

      Dana wrote on March 9th, 2014
  4. David Chang would be proud.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 8th, 2014
  5. I can get chicken feet at a chain grocery (Save-A-Lot) and wonder whether they’d be worth trying instead of other chicken parts. I know that cow feet make a very gelatinous menudo (which is great with or without hominy… okay, one has to like tripe).

    Mark. wrote on March 8th, 2014
    • Chicken feet are great for soup, full of flavour and gelatin.

      Alice wrote on March 8th, 2014
    • chicken feet are inexpensive & the broth gel nicely (just like pig feet).

      + there is hardly any scum on the broth using chicken feet. & takes less time to cook.

      (we use black tea & star anise to make hard boil egg; there may be be some recipes on-line)


      pam wrote on March 9th, 2014
  6. Can also use sweet potato noodles:-)

    Dennis wrote on March 8th, 2014
  7. Great receipt!

    Although there are some ingredients that I can’t use (like pork).. I heard that using chicken is a wonderful substitute!

    Will definitely try it out once.


    dave wrote on March 8th, 2014
  8. Looks good, but the broth in the photo is too clear. You can get way more goodness of our those hocks if you boil them longer.
    I boil pork hocks for 20 minutes to clean them, discard the dirty fluid, and then boil (not simmer) the cleaned hocks for 6 hours until I get a white cloudy ramen base. You should be able to hold the refrigerated broth between two fingers, and you should not be able to see through it at all. That’s how you get a genuine tonkotsu broth! Delicious 😀

    Rachel wrote on March 8th, 2014
  9. This looks fantastic! Going to have to make some. If you’re ever in Fukuoka, Japan, the main mall in the city has something on the top floor called “Ramen Stadium” where there must be 20+ different Ramen restaurants all offering their distinctive recipes. Was there almost 10 years ago and it’s still one of those formative food experiences that I’ll never forget. Another awesome bone soup variation is Korean Gamjatang. They sometimes call it Hangover Soup. It’s super spicy and almost entirely ‘primal’ – no noodles, just pork spine, vegetables and the odd potato (which you could omit if desired). Very easy to make.

    Dan wrote on March 8th, 2014
  10. This sounds really good… I imagine you could also use the yam based shiritaki noodles as well.
    I am working on a pho type of thing using those…

    salixisme wrote on March 8th, 2014
  11. Timing is amazing mark! I’m currently shoestring traveling around Asia, trying my best to stay primal (inevitably allowing rice). last week your ‘why you should get a massage’ post popped up just as I was discussing with my wife about Thai massage (we’ve now completed a training course in the discipline), and just yesterday I was ticking into a bowl of crispy pork clear soup, full of organ meats, crispy skin and tender belly, thinking that I really need to get a primal friendly recipe for this one I’m home.


    PaulCMountain wrote on March 8th, 2014
  12. Looks good, but I wouldn’t call it “ramen”.
    “Men” in Japanese means noodles, and when Japanese refer to “ramen” they’re always referring to the ramen noodles, not to the broth.
    Calling a broth “ramen” would be the same as calling tomato sauce “spaghetti”.
    Why not add some shirataki noodles?

    Yakumo wrote on March 8th, 2014
    • There are zucchini “noodles” in this recipe, if you look.

      Someone else already suggested kelp noodles as well. I haven’t tried them yet but shirataki have a texture that not everyone likes. Kelp noodles might be more agreeable, but it’s all down to personal preference.

      Dana wrote on March 9th, 2014
    • Yakumo is right

      that it is not Ramen soup.

      men = “mein” = wheat noodle specifically (that character has a “wheat” radical in Chinese)

      “rice noodle” called “fun” or “fen” in Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese).

      (the soup does look good tho).


      pam wrote on March 9th, 2014
  13. Dave — You could probably used smoked turkey parts in place of the ham hocks. They’re available at many grocery stores, especially if there’s an ethnic community nearby.

    Vera wrote on March 9th, 2014
  14. Looks delicious – might have to give this a whirl some time. Thanks for sharing :)

    Alex wrote on March 9th, 2014
  15. We were out of electricity the other night and made Japanese Hotpot from homemade beef broth that I had cooking down for 36 hours before the power went out. We used thin slices of beef and shrimp as well as greens and snow peas we cheated and added a little sake to the broth. But it was amazing. Little propane grills are a wonder.

    Jana wrote on March 9th, 2014
  16. i like the idea of perpetual stock. we do the same thing with homemade tomato pasta sauce. i got rid of the non paleo pasta. but i could not bear to stop the sauce pot. i always start super simple (if i have to start). 12 roma tomatos i cup chopped onion (no need to measure) salt pepper, fresh oregano and basil. then add everything you can find thats an odd or tidbit. it so hard to mess it up i never reallyh think about what i’m putting in there. i remember putting cabbage in it once that wasn’t at all yummy. oh well we powered through it then it was good again. just make sure to boil the sauce about every twelve hours. our pot never leaves the stove. as squemish as that sounds it works fine. been eating it like that for years. just watchout that you let any raw meat cook off before you dip into it, we add it in at night and let a good boil and the residual heat cook it for morning.

    dakotaanddarcy wrote on March 9th, 2014
  17. had this for dinner. I don’t like summer squash so I had spaghetti squash noodles instead. Amazing and filling especially when you feel a cold coming on.

    Glory wrote on March 9th, 2014
  18. This looks great! I will probably make my own version and use baby bok choy instead of collard greens.

    Calorie Warrior wrote on March 10th, 2014
  19. Wow I miss ramen now! I studied in Japan back in college :)

    Which reminds me, ito-konyaku (Konjac yam noodles) is sometimes used as a healthy replacement for wheat noodles. If you live in a larger town, you might be able to find it at your local asian store! Unlike noodles made from squash, these won’t break appart in the hot soup!

    Poe wrote on March 10th, 2014
  20. OMG I just stumbled up on this !!!!
    I LOVE (love love) oriental soups

    Al wrote on March 16th, 2014

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