Fire Broth Noodle Soup

This is the soup that saved me after my dad came home from the hospital recently. It's loaded with good things like beans, greens, and pasta and the broth is spicy and invigorating with lots of pepper, garlic, ginger, and chiles.

Fire Broth Noodle Soup

This is the soup that saved me after my dad came home from the hospital recently. I made the first pot on the fly, loading it up with all the things that make me feel good (beans, pasta, kale, turmeric), and seasoning it just the way I like it with a broth that is nuclear spicy (cayenne, ginger, garlic). All the ingredients went into the largest pot I could find, one of my dad's pasta pots, so there would be enough soup to portion out and freeze into meals for days. It’s the kind of soup I never get tired of, and the kind of thing I needed to have on hand to keep myself going at a terrible time. For any of you who missed what has been going on with me between my past post and now, I posted more details here and here, but the short of it is that my mom died unexpectedly, and my dad has also been very sick. Fire Broth Noodle Soup But the soup has helped. The soup does the job. And somewhat shockingly, my dad also loves it. He lost nearly fifty pounds in a short time period while he was in the hospital and acute rehab. Swallowing was hard, and radiation treatment to his throat caused all sorts of problems. I wasn't sure if he could tolerate this soup, because spicy foods can be trouble when you're not eating much and/or getting radiation treatment to your neck. At any rate, he asked to try it and now he requests for bowl after bowl of this, preferably with a dollop of sour cream on top or a bit of grated Parmesan cheese. He calls it, “that spicy soup.” My English brother-in-law saw how much chopped kale is added, and nicknamed it “hot salad.” Laugh/cry. We make a big pot every week.

The Noodles:

Any short, substantial noodles will do here. I started by using farfalle pasta (butterflies), and when those ran out, I switched to egg noodles - the kind you might use in a kugel. I wouldn’t hesitate to use gemelli or fusilli.

The Beans:

My preference is cranberry beans. I made the first two pots of this with these. But don't get hung up if you don't have cranberry beans. Chickpeas are also a win, you could try a favorite white bean, or a blend it also good. I always cook up a pound of dried beans before making this soup, but you can certainly make it with canned, and I’ll leave notes in the recipe to reflect this. I also included this recipe in my list of best bean recipes, so be sure to browse it if you're looking for more bean-centric inspiration!

Fire Broth Noodle Soup

The Spices:

My advice here is to roll with what you have on hand. You likely have much of what you need. The objective? An assertively spicy, balanced broth. I call for cayenne pepper here, but I’ve also made this soup substituting an equal amount of Szechuan pepper, and it was all good. If you’re concerned about the soup being too spicy, scale back a bit on any ingredient you’re nervous about, and salt and season with more toward the end of cooking. This way, the seasoning will be exactly to your liking.

Fire Broth Noodle Soup

Use a Big Pot:

The main thing to know is you need to use a very large pot here. This recipe makes a lot of soup. I make it in a big pasta or stock pot. Just keep in mind, in addition to all your ingredients, you’ll add 14 cups of water. If you don’t have a large enough pot, cut the recipe in half (or do 3/4 of the recipe) to be safe.

Stretching Out Leftovers:

You’ll have leftovers for days with this recipe. That’s part of the magic here. Keep some refrigerated for the coming day or two, and freeze the rest in smaller portions. You might want to add more water to the soup upon reheating - it tends to thickens up. Be sure to pre-season with more salt and cayenne before serving, after re-heating.

A Couple Variations:

With tomatoes! If you have canned whole tomatoes on hand, you can add them to this soup. Scale back the amount of water called for by a couple of cups and use a pair of culinary scissors to cut the tomatoes into smaller pieces while they're still in the can (pro-tip), add along with the beans, water, etc.

Different Spice Profile: I made this last night, but was out of ginger. I keep everything else as written in the recipe below, but added the tomatoes I just mentioned, and lots of chana masala spice mixture - a few tablespoons. It was A-plus! So good. You could experiment with garam masala instead, or whatever you keep on hand!

Please enjoy the soup. It takes a good amount of chopping, but the payoff is rich. And I wanted to extend another heartfelt thank you for all your notes, support and condolences. I’m looking forward and hoping for more bright spots for all of us in 2021. -h

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Fire Broth Noodle Soup

4.35 from 66 votes

My dice here is about 1/4 inch. If you're nervous about the soup being too spicy, start with 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder, and add more from there to your liking.

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 head of celery (7 stalks plus leaves), diced
  • 3 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste/
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2- inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 14 cups water
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound dried cranberry or white beans (soaked then cooked) OR 6 cups canned beans
  • 4 big handfuls of de-stemmed kale leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound short pasta (farfalle or egg pasta)
  • To serve: grated cheese, sour cream, salted yogurt, or creme fraiche, squeeze of lemon juice
  1. In a large stockpot, combine the olive oil, celery, onion and salt over medium-high heat. Saute until the onions and celery soften a bit, 5 to 7 minutes. 

  2. Stir in the garlic, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, and cayenne powder. Cook for another minute or so, then add the water. Bring everything to a simmer before adding the carrots, beans, and kale. 

  3. Bring back to a simmer, and stir in the pasta. Bring back to a good simmer and cook until the pasta is cooked through. Taste, and adjust with more cayenne and salt if needed. Serve with any of the suggested toppings.


Makes a very large pot of soup - 12+ servings.

Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
50 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


Heidi, sharing your story shows such confidence in your readers, and you treat us as equals. Your mother was a memorable person, and it's encouraging to hear your wonderful memories along with such shock and sadness at her sudden passing. I first got to know your delicious food through a friend, who suggested the carmelized brussels sprouts. My family looked forward to them each Thanksgiving. Best to to your and your dad right now.

Nancy Tauber

    Thanks Nancy. I appreciate all the kind and generous notes. And so happy you enjoy those brussels sprouts! :)

    Heidi Swanson

Heidi - I'm so sorry about your mom - losing a mother is such a sorrow. I've been reading your blog since its beginning (you posted a lot about cakes then, I remember) and I think of you as one of my cooking friends. Glad to know that your father is doing better.


Dear Heidi, I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of your mother and your dad's illness, What a blow for both of you. Sending you love and prayers from a longtime reader who has gotten so much from your blog and books over the years. Your healthy recipes sustained us through the birth of four children, helped nurture us through the loss of three parents and also so many good times. It's hard to see ahead when tragedy and loss narrow your focus, but time is a magical healer. Blessings to you and your family.


Heidi, I was so happy to see your e-mail promising soup, even though I just made a huge pot yesterday. It's soup season and I'm always happy for something new. Then I read why it had been so long since I'd heard from you. I am very sorry to hear this news. I will make your soup in honor of your mother later this week. In the meantime, I'll think good thoughts for your father. All the best to you.


Heidi, I am so sorry for your mom's death and dad's illness. No one can ever say, Oh I know just how you feel -- it was so hard with my mom. No one can ever really "know" but do believe that it gets better and that a life of wonderful memories is a comfort. Mom's live on in our hearts, dads also.

Lee Kinzer

I made a half batch of the Fire Noodle Soup today and - WOW was it awesome! I used canned pinto beans because that's what I had on hand, I was careful to rinse well and drain. Because I had a small, sad Serrano pepper in the fridge I sliced it thin and sautéed with the veg. When it came time to add the cayenne I cut way back and added a bit more later when I was tasting. The resulting heat level was perfect for me - spicy, but not so hot to overpower the flavors. The ingredients in this soup reminded me of the Fire Vinegar I used to make, so I added a splash of white wine vinegar to the pot (I'm out of the unfiltered apple cider vinegar that I prefer). Towards the end when I was tasting to correct seasonings I decided to add in a heaping teaspoon of Better Than Bullion vegetable concentrate just to amp up the broth flavor a bit. I will definitely make this again trying different kinds of dried beans. Hmmmm I wonder how it would be made with corn and potatoes instead of pasta and beans. Maybe lentils might be a fun option to try. Can't wait to experiment. Thanks for this great recipe!

Vicki Wilson

    I think it'd be great Vicki! I think that's the spirit of this soup - use what you have, and amp up (or down) the seasonings. xx

    Heidi Swanson

This recipe was delicious! Enjoying a bowlful right now. So sorry to hear about your loss and family health.


I am so sorry for your losses. Especially your poor father dealing with his diagnosis, treatment and associated side effects as well as the sudden loss of his life partner. There are so many ways that 2020 got worse for people but your’s is particularly heart breaking. May things improve for you all.


I'm so sorry for the loss of your mom, and for all of the Hard in between. Glad to hear your dad is doing better. Thanks for taking the time to update us and share this soup.

Susan T

Heidi, sorry for your loss. I too lost my mom this year. Couldn’t even go to the funeral. My Dad has been in and out of the hospital with heart issues. A very challenging time. Sending prayers your way for your dad. Hang in there! Soup is always so restorative. I got a honey baked ham for Christmas and made so many batches of soup with the leftovers and shared with my coworkers. I love all of your recipes.


Hello Heidi,I was so sorry to read about the passing of your mother, and your fathers illness.Thank you for your lovely recipies, have a peaceful 2021.Jenifer

Jenifer sheedy

Hey.. small missing element to the recipe... it says 1/3 olive oil, but not the unit of measure. Assume that's 1/3 cup? Sorry for your loss - soup helps, oddly, doesn't it?


    Got it! And fixed - thanks for the catch :)

    Heidi Swanson

Heidi, I am so very sorry about the loss of your lovely mom and your dad’s cancer diagnosis. Although I have never commented on your site, you have been a longtime companion in my kitchen. You are affectionately known as “my friend Heidi,” and my partner and I have enjoyed getting “acquainted” with you, Wayne and your family through your work over the years. You have inspired me to become more confident and creative in the kitchen with your interesting and accessible approach to cooking. You’ve helped me nourish those I love. I hope we—your legion of fans—can help nourish you and provide some comfort and support during this sad and stressful time. Sending you loving kindness and good wishes for your dad. Take good care of yourself. xo, Jody

Jody W

    Hi Jody, thank you so much for such a sweet note. Much love, Heidi

    Heidi Swanson

I am so very sorry for your loss, Heidi, and for your Dad's illness. What a truly sad and stressful time. Cherish her memory with love and honour her with the nourishment that you give to your loved ones and to yourself. Thank you for sharing with us - much love from afar, Sam xx


This soup sounds delicious, thank you for taking the time to post it. I am so terribly sorry about your Mother and your Dad's illness. I have made so many of your recipes and enjoy your work so much. My very best wishes to you and your family.


Your recipes are amazing thank you.

Estther Balogh

Oh Heidi, I am so terribly sorry to hear about your mother's passing and your father's illness. Thank you for sharing a bit of your mother with us. She sounds an amazing woman whose love and presence will continue to be felt. I wish your father health, and you and your family peace. May her memory be a blessing to you.


    Thanks for the kind note Collette. xoxo

    Heidi Swanson

Thinking of you, Heidi. Thank you for sharing so many recipes that have brought me comfort and happiness. Wishing the same for you. (and I'll be making this soup this weekend)


    Thanks Nicole :)

    Heidi Swanson

I am so sorry to learn about your parents. Your recipes have sustained me through this pandemic, as they have over many years. A new Heidi cookbook coming soon is a light in this tunnel. All good thoughts.


    xo Patty - here's to a better year.

    Heidi Swanson

Beautiful soup and words. My dad passed unexpectedly when I was 19 and it was so traumatic. Hugs to you and your family. Regarding the soup - the instructions look to be for canned beans - any more instructions for using dried beans?


    Thanks Stephanie & I'm so sorry. It's so hard. Re: beans. I've written the recipe for either. If you're using dried beans - just cook up a pound of them, drain, and proceed. Or you can use canned. Enjoy!

    Heidi Swanson

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