Feed yourself or a crowd with this scalable recipe, a New Orleans original. This simple beef and noodle soup has origins dating back to the Chinese railroad workers who set up a temporary Chinatown in New Orleans. Beef, noodles, broth and some Creole seasoning.
What is yakamein and why it’s so delicious?
Yakamein, also known as “Old Sober” or “Soul Food Soup,” is a classic and beloved Louisiana dish that has been around for generations. It’s a savory soup made with beef broth, noodles, vegetables, and spices like cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Most recipes add an egg on top. It is often cooked in a large dutch oven. The soup is typically served over wheat noodles like spaghetti or sometimes with oyster crackers on the side.
The unique flavor of yakamein comes from its combination of ingredients; the beef broth gives it an intense umami flavor while the other ingredients provide depth of flavor and subtle spicy notes. Additionally, the egg adds richness to the dish while providing texture contrast to all of the soft components in this flavorful bowl. Yakamein can be enjoyed on its own as a meal or as part of a larger spread at family gatherings or special occasions. No matter how you serve it up, one thing is certain: it’s sure to please any palate!
History of Yakamein
Yakamein, or “Old Sober” as it is sometimes referred to, has been a staple of New Orleans cuisine for centuries. Its origins are steeped in mystery and legend, with some claiming that the dish was brought over by Chinese immigrants in the early 1800s while others suggest it was invented during the Great Depression by African Americans who had limited access to ingredients. It is basically a lo mein that has been adapted to Creole flavors.
Whatever its true origin, yakamein has become an iconic part of New Orleans culture and has been enjoyed for generations.
The unique blend of noodles, beef broth, vegetables, spices and hard-boiled eggs makes this hearty soup a favorite among locals and visitors alike. While there are numerous variations on how to prepare Yakamein depending on personal preference or availability of ingredients, it remains a beloved classic that stands out from other traditional Southern dishes.
For the traditional style Yakamein served today, these ingredients are common:
- beef (the cheaper the more authentic)
- spaghetti or other wheat noodles
- mirepoix (celery, bell pepper, onion)
- Creole spices
- beef broth
- hard-boiled egg
How to make this recipe
Toppings Galore – Create the ultimate bowl of Yakamein with these unique toppings
Of course with any iconic dish, people will agree to disagree about THE best version. In this case, it is usually on what to garnish it with. Here are a few garnishes I found that Yakamein fans swear by:
- hot sauce
- chili oil
- soy sauce
- worcestershire sauce
IS YAKAMEIN THE SAME AS RAMEN? – Yakamein and Ramen have similarities but are two completely different soups. Yakamein’s broth is simple and quick where Ramen broth is simmered usually overnight and utilizes roasted beef bones, giving the soup a rich, thick texture from the gelatin exuded from the bones. Both have slightly chewy noodles. Yakamein uses more seasonings in the form of spices and Ramen utilizes fresh herbs and slightly different aromatics.
WHO IS THE YAKAMEIN LADY? – Chef Linda Green is the Yakamein Lady. I first heard of her from a Netflix series called Street Food USA. Chef Green learned how to make Yakamein from her mom, and her mom learned from hers and so-on. She has sold this dish from her front yard, at Mardi Gras and just about any Jazz or Southern art venue around.
CAN I SAVE THE LEFTOVERS? – Yes but keep the noodles, eggs, scallions separate from the soup. This should keep well in the fridge for up to a week. The noodles may stick together so drizzle a little olive oil on them and rub it in. Or better yet, just freshly cook the amount of noodles needed for that day.