When we lived in the Philippines, we adopted a few “family” members. One was Lindsey whom we taught with, lived next door to and did life with for 10 months. One way we forged a family was by eating dinner together almost every night for 10 months straight. Cooking dinner for 2 hasn’t quite been the same since. Lindsey is an excellent cook and one of her signature meals was this soup which I am calling “Simple sour Asian soup.” She picked up the idea from a soup she had while living in Cambodia. One thing you should know about Lindsey is that she has an amazing sense of smell and taste. She can taste/smell something and pick out exactly what flavors are present. You can see one of our super cute family photos to the left. 🙂
I am calling this ‘simple sour Asian soup’ because Asia has many versions of sour soups. This is not exactly like any of those but a more basic version from which you could create many different things. I like it in this simplistic form though. If you are looking for something with a bit more pizazz you could look into Tom Yum (Thailand) or Sinigang (Philippines). What makes this soup sour is tamarind. I had never heard of tamarind before I left America but apparently it is used all over the world: Africa, Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is quite an unusual fruit. I was able to play with fresh tamarind while in the Philippines. Here is a picture:
When you buy fresh tamarind, it is a hard brown bean pod. You soak it in hot water then take the outer pod off. Inside the pod is the soft sour flesh and a seed. You scrape the fleshy part off and use that. It is very tart!
Today, living in America, I am using tamarind bullion from an Asian grocery. Although I would probably be using the bullion if I lived in Asia too. (It’s just easier.)
Here’s how to make the soup:
1 head bok choy
1 medium onion
3-5 cloves of garlic
2-4 stalks of green onion
1-3 tamarind bullion cubes
1 stalk lemongrass
1 cup white rice
optional vegetable or chicken broth
Dice a medium onion and 3-5 cloves of garlic
Wash and roughly chop bok choy leaves and stalk.
Saute the onion and garlic in oil and toward the end add the bok choy stalk and diced green onion.
Add 5-8 cups of water or vegetable broth and 1-3 tamarind bullion cubes. I add one at a time until it reached the level of sour that I wanted.
Add lemongrass. (leave as large pieces so you can remove it at the end)
Add leaves of bok choy.
Simmer for 20min. – 90min.
Make rice and serve soup over rice.
The bok choy I got at the farmer’s market this week is hilariously large. So I had to share a picture of it. We’ve had a lot of rain so I’m hoping that is why this is so large and not that it’s pumped with fertilizer. Either way it was $2 and I’ll be making 2 large meals with it this week. So I’ll take it!