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Kunkhen's Torn Noodle Soup

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 2-inch length fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 carrot, cut in half lengthwise, then cut in thin half-moon shapes
2 ounces black radish, peeled and diced
4 tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
5 shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup hot water
About 5 teaspoons fermented black beans, or to taste, (or 1 heaping tablespoon prepared black bean garlic sauce - see head note)
8 cups water
1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, trimmed and rinsed
2 heads butter lettuce, rinsed, leaves scissor cut in wide strips
Sea salt to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, firmly packed
3 scallions, trimmed and minced


1. Place the flour in a medium bowl and make a well. Add the water and the salt and mix, then gradually mix in the flour. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is slightly elastic and smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover it with a bowl and let it sit. The noodle dough can be prepared up to 2 hours before making the soup. 2. To make the soup, place the oil, onions and garlic in a large stockpot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the ginger, the carrots, and the radish and stir, then add the tomatoes and stir. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have lost their shape, about 8 minutes. 3. Drain the mushrooms, saving the liquid they soaked in, and cut them in quarters. Add the black beans, or the black bean puree to the vegetables in the stock pot, stir, then add the water and the mushroom soaking liquid. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the liquid is simmering and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Add the spinach and the lettuces. You may need to add the greens gradually, pushing them down into the liquid as they wilt. Cook until all the greens are wilted. 4. While the greens are cooking, divide the noodle dough in quarters. Roll the quarters into 1-inch thick ropes, then take one rope and holding it at the end between your thumbs and forefingers, gradually move along the rope of dough as you continue to pinch the dough with your fingers, so that you end up with a band of dough that is about 2-inches wide. Repeat the process on the same band of dough, then repeat with all the ropes of dough so that you have four, flat bands. They will be irregular, but that is fine. When the greens are thoroughly cooked, tear 1-inch pieces off the first band of dough and throw them into the soup. Stir, then continue with the remaining band of dough. The dough is fairly soft, but it tears quite well, resulting in noodles that are irregularly shaped, just as Kunkhen's were. 5. Cook the noodles just until they are tender, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring the soup so they cook evenly. Serve the soup immediately, with the garnishes alongside.

Source: www.epicurious.com