Category Archives: Soup

Simple sour Asian Soup

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Simple sour Asian Soup

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:

TamarindWhen 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:

Ingredients:

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

 

Directions:

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.

Sour Soup

 

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!

monster bok choy

 

Creamy Dreamy Potato Soup

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I had been craving potatoes for a while.  I don’t usually keep white potatoes in the house because they aren’t healthiest food.  (especially the ways I like to eat them).  But when I saw this 10 lb bag on sale at Aldi for $1.98, I couldn’t resist.

I decided my first potato adventure would be cream of potato soup.  I scanned through the allrecipies.com app on my phone for different recipes, took the best ideas from a  few different places and got busy.

First I scrubbed the potatoes then boiled them with the skins on.  When the potatoes were fairly soft I drained and peeled the skin of only about 1/4 of the potatoes.  The skin is where the good stuff is and I have nothing against it as long as it is clean.

I threw 2 small onions in the food processor and sautéed that in some butter in a large pot.  I added the potatoes and a can of chicken broth and heated this until it was all hot.

Then I put about half of this into the food processor and it turned into a really thick and tasty mashed potato substance.  I added it back into the pot and heated through, adding more broth because it was too thick.  Then I added some thyme and a bit of basil and oregano. Once this was all heated through I added about a cup and a half or so of heavy whipping cream along with about a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  I would have added more, but that’s all we had. So I also shredded some mozzarella string cheese and added that to the mix.  It worked but more cheddar would have been better.

I also cooked up some turkey bacon on the George Forman Grill and crumbled that in at the last minute.  Overall this soup turned out very well.  I am glad we decided to not puree the entire soup, resulting in potato chunks in a creamy base.  I think real bacon would have tasted better, but the turkey bacon worked.

What is good for you in the soup?

Potatoes: Vitamin C– not as much a fruits and veggies, but still a decent amount (about 27 mg or 45% of your daily need).  Potassium– potatoes actually contain higher amounts of potassium than bananas!  Vitamin B6– helps the body to convert carbohydrates and protein into energy (probably a good things since potatoes are high in carbs!) Fiber– you have to keep the skins on for this one!  I didn’t think about this while I was making the soup, but if I had saved some of the water from when I boiled the potatoes, and added some of it to the soup- this would have added more nutrients because you loose some nutrients when you boil potatoes.  The Idaho Potato Commission recommends saving potato boiling water to use in making gravies to retain more of those good nutrients.  Also, leaving the skins on and steaming rather than boiling gets you more of those nutrients as well.

Thyme: Strong antiseptic and antibiotic that is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and iron.  I also just learned that herbalists use it to treat bronchitis! When I was first typing this entry (5 weeks ago- oops, forgot to post!) I was half way through an 8 week episode of bronchitis.  When I learned this I started making a tea with dried thyme and honey.  I did help my cough some.

Tomato Spice Eggplant Stew

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What a day! We went gleaning at an orchard this morning to help out local food pantries which was a fantastic way to spend such a beautiful morning. Before leaving the orchard we stopped in their produce market and bought a variety of fall squash.  We also discovered a box of eggplant on sale for $1.50 for like 5 pounds of eggplant because they were starting to get a little soft, still in very good condition though. So being the smart shopper that I am, I purchased the box for $$1.50 and started looking up things to make with eggplant.  The winning idea for the day- Soup!  I did glance over a recipe for soup, but I honestly do not remember anything about it except tomato sauce and onion and garlic. If you don’t already know I am a soup making diva and have no need for following recipes when it comes to soup.  I think I like making them so much because when I cook I like to just throw stuff together and see how it turns out and with soup- it usually has good results. To me, recipes are like suggestions,not rule books, which is why I will rarely type out an exact recipe in this blog .  It stresses my husband out because he has an intense urning  to follow the recipe to the T. So when I start tossing stuff around the soup pot like Remy in the movie “Ratatouille” he occasionally leaves the kitchen. 🙂   I had never made soup with Eggplant (I’ve never done much with eggplant in general to be honest) so this was indeed an adventure!

It all began with these lovely little eggplants: (I apologize for the poor quality of pictures tonight, my kitchen’s lighting is not the best)

I had read a long time ago something about soaking eggplant in salted water for a few minutes to get the bitterness out of them, so I sliced this rounds and soaked in salted water while I chopped onion, garlic and a little celery.  I also started simmering one cup of dry barley in a separate small pot (I could have cooked it in the soup pot but wanted to keep it separate because I was unsure of how long I wanted to simmer the veggies in the soup ad barley takes about 45 minutes to soften).  The barley needs to be rinsed before cooking. Bath time!

Once everything was chopped and ready, I heated olive oil in the bottom of my soup pan and began sautéing my onion, then added the garlic, then a little celery leaf till starting to brown a little. Then I added my cubed eggplant to sauté a little before adding the liquids. I also added extra olive oil at this point because I know eggplant absorb a lot of oil and with all the flavor going on in this pot, we want them to absorb as many flavors as they can.

Then I added two small cans of tomato sauce (that’s all I had) and some vegetable bouillon cubes.  I ended up using three over all- each was added with about a cup or 2 of water.  Next I flung open the spice cupboard and let’s see if I can remember everything that flew out into the soup…. Parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, and curry….. I think that is it. Just a little of each.. but mostly the first 4.

When the barley was close to being soft, I added it to the soup so it could soak up some of the tomato spicy goodness.

The end result may not look like much, but oh my goodness. When I did a taste test, my initial reaction was an –  ooh!? hmm  wow.. oh my!  Then another taste.  It had a tomato-nutty-sweet-spice that literally shocked me. I was not expecting it to taste like that, but my-oh-my is it scrumptious.  I just finished my second bowl tonight and if I had a morsel less of self control I would be’ the rest of the pot right now.  It is that good.

My husband’s review was that he liked it, especially the little bit of spice, which is how I decided upon the name for this delectable soup.  I might just have to make some more with some of the other eggplant I have.  I also want to make eggplant parmesan, eggplant garlic humus, and Mediterranean stuff eggplant. I am going to need to get some fancy cheese for some of those dishes though, so we’ll see what I end up making before my eggplant go bad.

What is good for you in this stew?

I love to know what is good for me in the food I am eating.

Stews and soups are awesome because you get so many different things healthy things in one pot- so I am not going to talk about everything but here are some highlights:

Eggplant– Contains chlorogenic acid, which is one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plant tissues.  These free radicals help your body fight cancer, bad cholesterol, and bacterial and viral activity.  It also contains other phytonutrients; antioxidants which help cell membrane functioning as well as support your immune system.

(tomato, garlic and onion were discussed in the pizza entry, so look that up if you are interested)

Basil (one of my favorite seasonings!)- High in lutein and zeaxanthin for good eye health, eugenol found in basil is an anti- inflammatory and can help relieve arthritis pain, also mildly sedative and pain relieving. Was traditionally used in remedies for indegestion, nausea and stomach ache.

Parsley- s strong antioxidant , neutralizes carcinogens which occur from cooking heat at high temperatures (on the grill- so always marinate your meat in something with lots of parsley and other herbs).  Contains compound that help relieve menstrual cramps, pain and bloating.  Rich in vitamin C and iron.

Oregano- The herb with the highest antioxidant activity (42 times higher than apples and 12 times higher than oranges!). Contains antibacterial oils of thymol and carvacrol which help prevent food poisoning and boosts immune system. Contains calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, high in fiber.

Thyme- Also full of powerful antioxidants and the antibacterial oil thymol. Rich in flavanoids which protect against diseases of aging. Rich in vitamin C and iron.  A strong antiseptic and antibiotic- often recommended for use as mouthwash or treatment for bronchitis.

As you can see, herbs and spices and do a lot for your food and your body so don’t be afraid to let them out of that cupboard! Also remember to check expiration dates as they often expire in a year or 2 or 3.. and we tend to keep them around for much longer than that. Granted I’ve never heard of someone dying from use of old spices, but they probably are not as potent when they are 5 years old. 🙂

Eat, Enjoy and stay Healthy! 🙂

Autumn Spice Soup

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I went Pumpkin picking this weekend at Hollin’s Farm and picked these beautiful pie pumpkins with the thought that I would make pumpkin pie.

After thinking through the process of turning the pumpkin puree into a more condensed state suitable for a pie, I decided this did not appeal to me. So I began rummaging through several pumpkin soup recipes and decided to adapt one I found on mom-mom.com for a Ginger Pumpkin Bisque.

I was making this soup with my mom who wanted to steam the pumpkin, while this was probably not a bad idea I had read in several places that roasting is a good way to do it too. So we sliced one pumpkin in half, threw it face down on a baking sheet with some cooking spray and placed  in the oven set at 400*.   We left my dad in charge of not letting the house burn down while we went out to the store to pick up a few additional ingredients.

When we returned about 30- 4o minutes later we realized just how much liquid was being retained in this bad boy. The bottom of the baking pan was covered with a good eighth of an inch of liquid.  I took the pumpkin out of the oven and was surprised to find how easily the pumpkin spooned out.  We put the pumpkin pulp in the blender and ended up with about 6 cups of pumpkin puree which we simmered for about 15 minutes to cook off some excess liquid while we chopped up the following ingredients:  3 heaping teaspoons fresh ginger, 1 and 1/2 cup chopped shallots, one cup sweet onion. We sautéed these ingredients in a tablespoon of olive oil then added 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 2 cups chicken broth, and 1 cup apple cider to the sautéed mixture.  This made the thickener of the soup. After this got bubbly we added it to the pumpkin puree along with 2/3 cup real maple syrup, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp: cinnamon, thyme, and pepper, with 1/4 tsp. ground clove.


After this simmered for about 20 minutes we took it off the heat to cool for about an hour.  We only did this because it was a while until lunch and the next step is to make it smooth by running it through the blender and my mom’s is plastic, so we wanted it to be pretty cool.

You should let it cool at least a little before moving onto the next step which is to add 1 cup whipping cream and 1 tsp vanilla extract which mellows out the spice and makes it creamily delicious.
Heat through then serve!  Garnish with home beat whipped cream, fresh thyme, or cinnamon.
My parents and I loved it but thought it was a bit too thick and will add more broth next time. Either thick or thinned out a little this dish would make an excellent appetizer, side dish or meal on a cool fall evening.
I love good food, but I also love to know what is in my food that is good!  I have an awesome book called 100 Best Health Foods and I want to share with anyone who cares what is good for you in the ingredients of this delicious soup:
(all info below is from the 100 Best Health Fods book unles noted otherwise.)
pumpkin– “The alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are potent antioxidants found in pumpkin and are pro-vitamin A carotenoids, meaning the body converts them to vitamin A. Vitamin A promotes healthy vision and ensures proper immune function. The beta-carotene in pumpkin may also reverse skin damage caused by the sun and act as an anti-inflammatory. Alpha-carotene is thought to slow the aging process and also reduce the risk of developing cataracts and prevent tumor growth. Carotenoids also boost immunity and lessen the risk of heart disease.” Also high in fiber – http://www.suite101.com
thyme- rich in flavonoid antioxidants (which protect your body), iron and vitamin C
cinnamon- anti-inflamatory, antibacterial, can help relieve bloating, heartburn and offers protection against blood clots, heart disease and strokes.
onions- a natural antibiotic that protects from cancers and heart disease while also helping ward off colds.  Also may help symptoms of arthritis, regulate insulin, increase good cholesterol and circulatory system health.
So eat, enjoy and stay healthy this fall!