I could eat this soup everyday any time of year.
1 (3 1/2-ounce) package fresh shiitake mushrooms
4 cups chicken stock
6 (1/4-inch) slices peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 star anise, optional (I usually skip this)
6 ounces dried udon noodles (thick Japanese wheat noodles)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup sake or dry white wine
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup diagonally cut green onions
Remove stems from mushrooms; reserve stems. Thinly slice mushroom caps; set aside. Combine mushroom stems, chicken stock, ginger, garlic, green onion and star anise in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Strain stock through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
Cook udon noodles according to package directions and rinse with cold water;
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add reserved sliced mushroom caps to pan, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add minced ginger and minced garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add sake, and cook for 4 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add stock to pan. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low. Add chicken, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, and salt; simmer for 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated. Divide noodles evenly among 4 bowls. Add 1 1/2 cups soup to each bowl. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon green onions.