Showing posts with label Soup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soup. Show all posts

Friday, January 24, 2014

Vegetarian Pho with Shiitake Broth

Tonight I decided to skip going to the cinema with Michael and stay home alone instead, putting very old pictures into my photo album (Hello 2010 me, you look sooo young!), choosing more pictures to order so the new album does not end in 2011 (eventhough that is an improvement to 2009), making myself a cocktail (more on than later) and just generally doing what I really want today.
This living together thing is sometimes a balancing act, with being too close and simultaneously not spending enough real time together (compared to sitting next together but me checking out Instagram and Michael reading the news) and to be honest I (or we) don't naturally gravitate to a balance that makes us really content.
There is this expectations towards relationships that they should be easy or else you are with the wrong person, but over the last few months I came to realize for myself that easy when it comes to relationships means safe and a bit boring first, but can turn to just mostly weigh you down and make you silently unhappy. And I am not really speaking of my relationship with Michael, though we do not just have a wonderfully easy and always peaceful perfect relationship.
I have been quiet here the last few months after returning from our trip to South America and I think it has to do with the fact that everytime I start writing I seem to only want to write about the end of the relationship of my parents last summer, but have felt like it is inappropriate to write about here. My mom moved out of our home last July while I was away in Cuba and since then most of what I think about concerns the question where my home is now and what I can learn from their relationship that did not work out in the end. (My conclusion is basically that if you follow the principles outlined in this book you'll have a lot of work in front of you but things should turn out fine).
And it is in this spirit that I decided to have a lazy evening at home (not taking a bath because that only sounds relaxing but just bores me) cooking this soup (a soup I have been thinking of since Deb posted her Chicken Pho almost two weeks ago) and choosing photos to order so as to be a happier person tomorrow, and in consequence a better partner, too.

And the soup turned out as lovely as I imagined it to be those two weeks ago. I have made vegetarian broths before, with kitchen scraps as Tamar Adler suggests in An Everlasting Meal but was never too happy about it. It did not seem worth the trouble of steaming up our whole kitchen when it came to flavour. I guess I overdid it with the vegetables, the heat and the cooking time (Oops). This broth, though? It is really really good, so good that I drank a whole bowl full of just the plain broth right before doing my dishes, leaving me overly full but so satisfied. I used to not be a huge fan of Shiitake mushrooms, but here I came to love them - they are meaty and mushroomy and strong but addicting tasting and make a broth that has a clear simple flavour, like I always wanted vegetarian broth to taste but never actually have tried before.
The spices you use in the broth give it only a subtle flavour, so I can imagine using any leftover broth in ways not related to Vietnamese cooking, with which I am trying to say you should probably make more than just what you need for the Vegetarian Pho if you go through the troubles of making broth from scratch (especially if you have more space in the freezer than we do, with our ice supply and a fondue mix that together fill up 1/2 of our tiny freezer).

When it comes to the add ins for the pho, I went without mung bean sprouts because we already have our fridge full of veggies we seem to have no time to eat this weekend, but I think they would be lovely if you can get them. The cilantro and lime are essential, in my opinion, anything else is up to you.

Vegetarian Pho with Shiitake Broth
Adapted from the chicken pho that Deb Perelman posted earlier this January, which was barely adapted from Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan.
Note: You don't need to use more shiitake for the broth, but I really loved them in the soup, which makes me think that next time I am going to cook additional shiitake with just a little water so I would not have to share 7 mushrooms between 6 people. For more ideas for garnishes and a recipe for crispy shallots to top the soup with, go to Deb's post on Chicken Pho. (I did not want to deal with frying shallots just for myself though so I just went without and was absolutely happy with my soup)

for the broth:
2 onions, peeled, halved
3 slices of fresh ginger, smashed (about 1/2 inch thick)
7 dried shiitake mushrooms (that is what I used and I found the flavour of the broth to be just right, but one more or less wont make that much of a difference I guess)
2 star anise
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp szechuan pepper
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp sugar
2 small pieces kombu seaweed (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce 

for the pho:
300g dried rice noodles
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 scallion, thinly slices
2 limes, cut into wedges
hoisin sauce

Either char the halfed onions and the ginger slices over the flame of your gas range or preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C, place onion halfes and ginger slices on slightly oiled baking sheet and roast until softened and slightly blackened for about 30 minutes.

Add 4 quarts of water, the onions, ginger, shiitake, the spices, salt, sugar and the kombu in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, lower the heat and let gently simmer for at least an hour.

Before serving, strain the broth, setting aside the shiitake to add back in later. Add the soy sauce to the broth and adjust the seasoning to taste, adding more salt as you see fit.

Prepare the noodles: In a seperate pan, heat enough water to cover the noodles and prepare them according to the directions on the package. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

Right before serving, reheat the broth, prepare all your garnishes, divide the noodles and scallion slices among 6 (large) bowls, ladle the broth over the noodles and top with your garnishes. (In fact, only use part of your garnishes in the beginning and add more as you eat so as to keep the herbs fragrant and any sprouts you might be using slightly crunchy)

Serves 6.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall Minestrone

Autumn Day
Lord: It is time. The summer days were grand.
Now set your shadows out across the sun-dials
And set the winds loose on the meadowland.

Bid the last fruits grow full upon the vine,
do them the good of two more southern days
then thrust them on to their fulfillment, chase
the final sweetness into bodied wine.

Whoever has no house yet will build none,
Whoever is alone will stay alone
And stay up, write long letters out, and go
Through avenues to wander on his own
Uneasily when leaves begin to blow.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thai Coconut Soup

I hope you all had a really lovely Christmas, with lots of good food, laughter and a little too much sugar.
I spent Christmas at my parents' house with my brothers and sister, my parents and grandmother, and every year we have a pretty calm and peaceful evening together. I meant to come back online to wish you all a Merry Christmas, but then I found myself off the net for the most part of the last few days.
I did some cooking, too. I prepared the nut loaf on Sunday, still in my kitchen, and while it smelled really lovely here, I was not that happy with it after reheating. The recipe still needs some tweaking before I feel good about sharing it with you. I expect a lot from my vegetarian meat loaf, and right now I am not confident that everyone at your table would be that excited about it.
The cauliflower cake did turn out really well, though. It may be seen around here later in the year (because right now I dont have any pictures, to tell the truth. I was not only disconnected from the net, I also did not bring a camera). How was your Christmas? Did you do any cooking?
I returned to my home yesterday, with little motivation to cook, or eat. Like last year around this time, I crave lighter meals. Last year I made this gingery noodle soup, a perfect remedy for after the days, and weeks before them, of feasting on everything heavy and sweet.

Soup sounded fitting today, but I really wanted to try something different after making a variation of the noodle soup quite a few times over the course of the year. Leaving through my cookbooks I settled on a vegetarian version of Tom Kha Gai, the Thai soup usually featuring chicken. A light coconutty broth sounded just about right to tie together lighter eating and the sweet delights served at Christmas.

Thai Coconut Soup
Note: I used a combination of beans and eggplants here, and you can see fresh green pepper in the pictures above. Use whatever vegetables you can find or have on hand, though)

500ml coconut milk
thumb sized piece of galangal, or ginger if you can't find galangal, sliced
4 dried kaffir lime leaves, or 2 2-inch strips lime rind
2 lemongrass stalks, remove the outer leaves and cut into thirds
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups water
2 handful green beans
2-3 Thai eggplants, cut into wedges
8 ounces firm tofu, cubed, or seitan, or vegetarian chickn substitute
1-2 Thai peppers, sliced thin
1 scallion, green and white part, thinly sliced
1 can straw mushrooms
juice of 1/2 lime
fresh cilantro, as much as you want
1 teaspoon salt

In a large pot combine the coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass stalks, garlic cloves and water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the beans and eggplant, your protein of choice, the peppers, the sliced scallion, the straw mushrooms and the lime juice. Cook for another 5 minutes, serve with the chopped cilantro. (I usually do not stir the cilantro in before serving, because I like to reheat the soup and the cilantro does not take that well.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Indian Curry Pumpkin Soup

I have a hard time deciding on a favorite season. The freshness of spring, the bright green grass, the tender spring peas, the flowers, I just adore them. I am so excited for the first asparagus to arrive, the strawberries and peas. And then summer, with its lazy days and long vacations, tomatoes with olive oil and sea salt, skirts and sandals, baths and outdoor activities. And I can even find something lovely in the cold Swiss winters. I love the first snow of the season, walking on snow, a cold fogless day in the mountains, wearing scarves.
But every year, I seem to say, mid October, that Fall has to be my favorite season. My heart makes a little happy dance when I see the first pumpkins and squashes. I can start to drink tea again, wrap myself in a scarf or blanket, light candles, and get back into cooking. For while I love tomatoes with sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil and a few slices of mozzarella di buffala, they inspire little cooking.
So at the beginning of Fall, I carry home as much butternut squash and pumpkin as I can carry. 
When I started out making this soup, I actually planned on making a pumpkin curry with big chunks of pumpkin. What I did not account for was the pumpkin becoming all stringy in the process of cooking, so I decided to add a little broth and puree it.
The resulting soup is different enough from the pumpkin soup I normally make, the curry makes it somewhat spicy, which makes for a really warming soup. 

With fall comes the fact that it gets dark way too quickly to take shots of food in natural light. I think I need to go back to Debs answers on how she takes pictures of her food without natural light. How do you deal? Just cook earlier in the day?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

French Onion Soup

First, let me start with telling you that I will be travelling again, so I wont be around here too often till October. Turkey is waiting for me, and I am really excited.
Secondly, I am currently reading An Everlasting Meal, and I guess many of you have heard of it or read it, too. Tamar Adler has such a beautiful voice on paper, and all I'd like to do after reading a chapter of her book is visit her and hug her (because you know, hugging people can express all kinds of emotions. I love to hug people) I planned to read it in the train or on the beach, but I just could not wait to start.

After reading a few pages all I wanted to do is visit a farmers market, buy lots of veggies and start roasting them. Our fridge is rather empty at the moment, in preparation of quite long absence, and so I did not find too many leftovers I could turn into new meals. I need to do this more, use every little bit of a vegetable, making vegetable stock, turning leftovers into fantastic meals.
But today, I found myself with little else than leftovers from my father's birthday party last weekend. Beside the white bean crostini, I also made crostini with goats cheese and onion confit. People love these, and unlike last year the were not hesitant to try them. Nonetheless we ended up with lots of leftover onion confit this year and I already thought about throwing it out, because there is only so much of it you can eat on slices of bread with a little cheese.

But inspired by Tamar Adler, I decided to make a French Onion Soup with the leftovers. If you do not have onion confit on hand, then this recipe is not for you. Though I can certainly recommend making a big batch of it and using it in grilled cheese sandwiches, on pizza, with pasta or many other things throughout the week.
But when you have the onion confit on hand, preparing this soup is a matter of minutes. I give aproximate measurements below, but it is really easy to throw together and you should not need any measuring spoons.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Green Gazpacho

I have been absent for quite a while, and I missed you. I missed being here, talking about food. And I missed cooking, too.
You might remember me talking about going to France for a while. And even now, what feels like a year after, I still owe you photos and tales from the land of fabulous food. I'd love to share, and plan to get back to it.

I have been away some more, though, keeping myself away from the computer for another week. I spent one week cooking for 22 kids at a camp, together with my boyfriend. It has been a exhausting but rewarding week.
And the days in between, those I did not spend working, were spent at my boyfriend's family's chalet, where the days are long and lazy, and the computers turned off, for the most part.

I am happy to be back, for now. And I'd love to share this recipe for a green gazpacho with you. I saw this recipe in Ottolenghi's cookbook Plenty just yesterday, and loved the concept of a green gazpacho. And I really liked how these different ingredients worked together to create a soup that tastes like gazpacho, but is still different. I wasn't too sure about the celery in the beginning, but it really blended in nicely. I changed quite a few things, though, some out of laziness, because a gazpacho recipe really should be easy to throw together. Most notably, I refuse to add more than one clove of garlic to a gazpacho, contrary to what you might believe me to do, considering the name of this blog. But adding four cloves of garlic, uncooked, and puree them into this delicate soup, it just destroys the flavor. If you do like your gazpacho to be garlicky, though, add more garlic to your liking. One more thing, last February in Spain, we were served gazpacho as a drink, to accompany the meal we ate. I love this concept, and if you want to try it, you should be adding more water than I suggest in this recipe, to make the gazpacho drinkable.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gingery Noodle Soup

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I am back home, after I spent two days at my parents house. I'm actually quite happy to be back in my kitchen, I feel comfortable here. In my parents kitchen I always feel a bit unsure of myself. My mother is a bit bossy when it comes to cooking, and a bit conservative. I just dont want to be explaining why I want to do something differently anymore, and so I stick to cooking what everyone likes, if I cook at all when I'm there.

I only moved out of my parents house two years ago. I only really started cooking about a year ago. And now I just can't accept the way we always did things as "the only" way. I don't mean to change my parents, and my brothers and my sister still live at home and have to find out what they want when they move out, too. But only when I'm at home, in my kitchen, the one with only one flat surface, with the little wonky garden table that we eat almost every meal at, with the very impractical floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets and the old, too hot, oven - only then can I really cook.

I'm back home, and I needed a break from the food I ate over Christmas. It was good food, but it was not my food. Do you ever feel the same?
So I made this soup. It's light. Gingery. Slightly spicy. And so refreshing after days of eating and drinking too much.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beet and Cucumber Gazpacho (Challenge Recipe 1/28)

Today I made the first recipe from the Vegetarian Planet for my challenge. It wanted it to be something quick and easy, something that is just right now that it is getting hotter outside again.  I used precooked beets, so the soup came together real quick and I did not have to turn on the stove. This soup could also be made ahead, since it has to be chilled for at least an hour.

I love gazpacho, and this beets version has a lovely purple colour and tastes great. I do not love beets (I like them, but not that much) but the taste of the beets comes through just enough, without overpowering the cucumber.
Now only the weather needs to cooperate, it's raining today.