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Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

Miso Soup

Miso soup is like the vegetarian equivalent of chicken noodle – it’s great when you’re sick because it’s hot, thin, high in protein and other nutritional goodies, and of course delectable.

Start out by mixing up a batch of broth – you can skip this step because the miso will also contribute to the taste of the base, but I prefer the extra flavor (and I think I would die if I went a day without consuming any Better than Bouillon).

broth

Chop up some firm tofu!

tofu

Add the tofu, and some dried wakame seaweed – be conservative with the seaweed! That stuff expands to many times its original size when reconstituted in liquid! Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes:

simmer

Then, take it off the heat, and spoon out a big heaping spoonful or two of miso paste and dissolve it in the broth. Stir like crazy! It’s easy to lose a chunk of undissolved miso in there and only find it when it turns up in your leftovers the next day. You can also reduce the incidence of this by squishing the hunks of miso paste between two spoons a few times before introducing them to the soup. After you’ve dissolved the miso, bring it back to a boil, but only just; remove it from the heat and serve. If left unattended, miso soup will settle with all the miso at the bottom. Just stir it up again and it’ll be fine.

soup

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Sorry about the hiatus! I had a run of food experiments that didn’t go well enough to share, and the ones that turned out nicely, I tended to forget to document photographically. I’m going to start trying to update once a week on Mondays, even if it’s just with a variant on something I’ve already posted. In that spirit, here’s a variant on bean corn lime soup. In the original, you puréed one of two cans of black beans. In this batch, I used pinto beans and puréed both cans. The result is this attractive pinkish soup:

pinto soup

Next week: cheesecake. You should be excited. My cheesecake is the very best.

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Lentil Soup

Who needs a delicious, fat-free, easy soup full of protein that can double as a dip with only a minor adjustment? You? Well, isn’t it lucky that you are reading this instead of some poor silly person who needs no such thing? Because this, you see, is a post about such a soup-slash-dip.

Celery. Onions. Garlic. I know I put ’em in everything, but they’re just so tasty. Hack some up and put them in a pot. You can also add parsley at this step.

mmmm

Sort the lentils – they are not always perfectly sorted when you buy them, and there will sometimes be rocks, other legumes, or grains in with them. Throw out anything you don’t want to eat. Then, thoroughly rinse off your lentils in a sieve or small-holed colander. The more you rinse, the less lentil scum you’ll have to skim off the top of your soup as it cooks. Add the quantity of lentils to the pot. In this example, I’m using red lentils, but other varieties work too. Add also some Better than Bouillon, some salt, and enough water to more than cover the whole thing. Stir it up and turn the heat on high.

yum

Lentils absorb a lot of water. Stir every few minutes, and keep an eye on the pot to make sure they don’t dry out and start to burn – you will probably need to splash in a little more water now and then.

delish!

During the cooking process, some moderately gross stuff will float to the top. This is lentil scum. It’s not dangerous, and it won’t even taste bad if you leave it there, but if it makes you nervous you can skim it off with a spoon and rinse it down the sink. Expect a few onion/garlic/celery/lentil casualties with the scum if you do.

When the lentils start to look nice and mushy, spoon out a few and eat them. If they are soft and squishy all through, then you can turn off the heat; if not, keep adding water as necessary, cooking, and tasting until they are. Once you have the desired texture, you can keep them at a boil long enough to cook off any excess water (you don’t need to worry about overcooking lentils); just make sure they stay wet and stirred-up enough not to burn. When this is done, turn the heat way down.

Next, it’s time to season them. I have two basic seasoning styles I use with lentils: curry and citrus-green spices. (Citrus meaning lemon or lime – I haven’t tried other fruits – and “green spices” meaning things like thyme, dill, chives, rosemary, sage, etc., not so much basil or oregano.) In this example, I’m using lemon and thyme as the main flavors (I’ll cover curry later): to do the same, squirt in some lemon juice to taste and do the same with thyme (except thyme you need to pinch or sprinkle, rather than squirt). Small quantities of the other green spices I mentioned aren’t amiss with this combination either – sometimes I add all of them. Finish off with salt and pepper, also to taste. If they’re starting to look less brightly colored than you’d prefer, you can add turmeric to give them a nice yellow-orange hue.

om nom nom

If you wind up with a thin soup and you were hoping to be able to use it as a dip, you can use cornstarch to good effect: mix up a spoonful or two of cornstarch in a separate cup or bowl with water (or your lemon juice, if you feel like being super-efficient) until it’s smooth, then pour it in and stir to incorporate. The lentils will stick more effectively to chips after that. If a small amount of cornstarch doesn’t thicken the soup enough to suit you, add more, or try turning up the heat for a bit to cook the starches.

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This is the best soup ever.

Make it. You will thank me.

First, chop up an onion, a potato, a ton of garlic, and a head of cauliflower. Remove the peels/leaves/skins. (You may adjust these ratios if you like. One entire bag of frozen cauliflower works nearly as well as a head of fresh cauliflower.) You don’t have to chop the items up neatly or into small pieces, just get them dismantled reasonably thoroughly.

Add water – don’t overdo it; just add enough for the veggies to cook in. When they cook down, there will be plenty of liquid to go around. Add, also, a generous spoonful of Better than Bouillon. Bring to a boil, and stir occasionally. You don’t need to worry about overcooking this, so err on the side of leaving it simmering for too long rather than risking the larger chunks being underdone.

When it’s cooked, it goes through the blender. I recommend a hand blender/blender wand for this purpose, because you don’t need to do as many dishes that way, but as long as you can be reasonably sure your stand blender won’t crack at an inopportune moment and hit you in the face with hot soup, that will work just fine too. Blend and blend and blend until you have a delightful off-white purée. Then, in goes the cream!

Isn’t it bee-yoo-tee-ful? Keep adding and stirring in cream (heavy cream and light cream both work fine, and if you are on a diet, you could probably get away with half and half) until it is this color:

soup!

Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

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This is an example of a soup I made up on the fly. Much as with the bean corn lime soup, you begin by sautéeing celery and onion:

sauté

I used a combination of canola oil and butter. When it was fried to my satisfaction, I added water and a wide variety of green frozen veggies:

veggies

I used broccoli, peas, spinach, kale, green beans, and zucchini and cooked ’em. Then I threw in some Better than Bouillon and green spices (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, yes really, plus dillweed – and salt and white pepper, which are not green, but what can you do? I would have added chives but it did not occur to me.)

spices

Now to mess with the texture. Again, like the bean corn lime soup, this soup is thickened with a purée of its ingredients. I ladled some of the liquid and vegetables into the beaker for my hand blender and blended them.

purée

Added back to the soup, it made a delightfully thick and chunky consistency out of what was previously water with vegetables floating in it.

soup

Just to make this all even healthier, I added a handful of soy flakes (textured vegetable protein). I didn’t reconstitute them first – I let them pull their hot liquid out of the surrounding soup as I stirred them in and it continued to cook.

tvp

Then, because I thought of the name “cream of green”, I turned it into a cream soup by – predictably enough – adding cream to it.

cream

It’s not that pretty a soup, I will admit, but it tastes really good.

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This is a tasty, simple soup with a little lime kick to it. Start out by slicing up a few ribs of celery very fine and sautéing them in olive oil; mince up an onion while they sizzle away.

celery

Add the onion and plenty of garlic:

onion

Put one can of black beans and their liquid through the blender until they are a fine purée and drain the other can, leaving them whole:

beans
beans

Pour the bean purée and then the whole beans into the pot with the sautéed veggies and add some Better than Bouillon. Then add some frozen corn and turn up the heat, stirring.

soup

Don’t thin it out with water yet – if you still want to after you add the lime juice, you can, although this soup is very nice thick and can even be used as a chip dip that way. Speaking of lime juice:

limes

You can also use storebought lime juice (to taste), but limes were on sale the week I made this, so I bought two of them to use in my soup. In addition to lime juice, I added cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper, and a little chili powder. Mmmm.

soup

Serve hot, over rice, under cheese, on bread, as a dip, or all by itself.

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Eggdrop Soup

Eggdrop soup is quick and easy to make in any quantity at home. All you need are eggs, spices, broth, and cornstarch.

broth

Get your broth boiling with the spices of your choice. (How much broth depends on how dense you want the egg contents of your soup to be.) I usually use onion and garlic powders, ground mustard seed, white pepper, and salt; this time, for fun, I added dried chives. While that heats up, prepare a mixture of cornstarch and water:

cornstarch

One large spoonful of cornstarch per egg should do it. You don’t have to use all of your cornstarch mixture if it turns out to be unnecessary, so err on the side of having more than you need. Then crack however many eggs you plan to include and beat them:

egg

If you really hate lumps in your eggdrop soup and want it all to be superfine ribbons of delicate yellow, you have two choices: spend a very long time beating the crap out of your eggs, or separate your eggs first. The yolks aren’t the problem here, it’s the whites. You don’t have to leave the whites out to avoid lumps, you just have to take out the more mucilaginous portion and include only the less viscous and clingy part of the white. In this batch I just used whole eggs and only beat them briefly with a fork because the lumps don’t bother me.

Stir up your broth until it’s going around in circles very fast; stir up your cornstarch mixture until it is completely smooth and any starch clinging to the dish is scraped away and suspended in the water. Pour some of the cornstarch into the boiling broth as it swirls around and then stir like crazy. Add a little more every minute or so until it feels like it’s at about the right consistency to you. Get it swirling around the pot again, this time to stop your egg from all forming one giant clump.

soup

Pour the egg slowly into the swirling broth through the tines of a fork. Pause occasionally to get the broth stirring again. After you have poured in all the egg, bring the soup back to a boil, stirring constantly, and then turn off the heat. Serve.

soup

Decorative parsley flakes optional.

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