Sunday, January 16, 2011

0 Recipe #233: Chinese-Style Vegetable Soup

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OK, just one more easy-to-type-up recipe, and then the next one's going to be the aforementioned rack of lamb recipe, I promise. :) Not trying to string you along, but frankly, I've been feeling a little bit like a recipe-writing machine lately & need a little break from the time-intensive writing for a day or two. As you may've observed, I've been churning out posts at the rate of one per day for several days in a row, & it's starting to take its toll. Next thing you know, I'll be dreaming about broccoli jumping over fences instead of sheep. ;) Let's hope it isn't the killer cauliflower dream again. Haha! JUST kidding, people. It hasn't gotten that dire... yet. LOL!

But seriously, I do think about other things besides food & recipes. Maybe not lately, but I do. ;)

Alright, I'll quit making silly jokes & messing about, & will just get to the vegetable soup recipe already....

True to form, today's recipe happens to fit quite conveniently into this month's "cabbage recipes" theme. :) OK, it's only one vegetable featured amongst many, but hey, technically speaking, that still counts. ;)

This soup is very straightforward & easy to make. There's really nothing to it -- you just sauté a bunch veggies for about 5 minutes, & then toss the rest of the ingredients into the pot & simmer for 20-25 minutes. Just set the timer, & you're all set.

This soup gives you the best of both worlds: You get a lot of flavor for a minimal amount of effort. :) The  soup tastes incredibly rich, and yet, it's very lowfat & packed with nutrients. The broth is incredibly flavorful & multi-dimensional. It'll seem like you spent hours slaving over a hot stove, when really, it was closer to 20 minutes. ;) No worries, your secret's safe with me. :)


Chinese-Style Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. sesame seed oil
1 c. leeks (white parts only), sliced crosswise into 3/8" thick rounds (about 2 large leeks)
1 1/2 Tbsp. garlic, peeled & finely minced (about 3 large cloves)
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled & finely minced (about 2" piece)
1/4 c. baby carrots, julienned or diced (about 8 baby carrots)
1/4 c. parsnips, peeled & sliced crosswise into 3/8" rounds & then quartered (about 1 large parsnip)
3/4 c. celery, diced
1/4 c. fennel (bulb only), diced into 1/2" cubes
1/2 c. fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced into 1/4" thick pieces
1/4 c. Shaoxing rice cooking wine (found online or at international or Asian markets)
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 c. low-sodium organic beef broth
1 c. low-sodium organic chicken broth
4 c. water
1/2 Tbsp. white rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce, or to taste
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
1/4 tsp. red chili pepper flakes, or to taste
1 c. Chinese (or green) cabbage, julienned
3/4 c. broccoli florets, separated into pieces that are no bigger than 1 1/4" thick
1/2 c. red bell pepper, stemmed, de-ribbed, seeded, & diced (1/2 medium-sized pepper)

Garnishes:
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped & tightly packed
1/2 c. scallions (including green stalks), sliced crosswise into 1/4" thick rounds (about 8 large scallions)

Directions: In a large (10 qt.), nonstick stock pot, heat sesame oil. When oil is hot, add leeks, garlic, ginger, carrots, parsnips, celery, fennel, & mushrooms, & sauté on low heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with wine & soy sauce until liquid volume has been reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Then stir in beef & chicken broth, followed by water, white rice wine vinegar, & oyster sauce. Season with salt, white pepper, & red chili pepper flakes. Simmer (on low), uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender & the soup's flavors have melded. In the last 7 minutes of cooking, add cabbage, broccoli, & red pepper. (These vegetables take less time to cook; they'll get mushy & lose their color if cooked for too long.) Taste soup & adjust seasonings as needed. Remove soup from heat & allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls, & garnish each portion with cilantro & scallions. Serve immediately. 

Yield: Serves 3-4. (Makes about 6 c.)

Variations: Vegetarians & vegans can easily modify this recipe to suit their needs: Just substitute low-sodium vegetable broth for the chicken & beef broth & omit the oyster sauce.

If you like, you can also add other vegetables to the soup -- i.e., mung bean sprouts, shredded daikon, bamboo shoots, baby carrots, snow peas, &/or sliced water chestnuts, etc.

If you are serving this soup as a main course, you'll need to give it more nutritional substance by adding protein & carbs. For instance, you could add a 1/2 c. silken tofu (diced into 1/2" cubes) and 2 blocks (or 4 servings) of dried chow mein stir-fry noodles (1/2 block per person). (This would be enough for 3-4 servings.) If you'd like to try other types of noodles, soba noodles would work as well. For other protein options, try steamed chicken, shrimp, or beef, or a combination of any of these selections. Also, a bit of melted miso paste would taste particularly good in the soup as well. (If you're going to add miso paste, don't add it until the soup has been removed from the heat & cooled for at least 10 minutes. Otherwise, the heat will denature its nutrients.)

If you'd like your soup to have a bit more heat (with regard to piquancy, not temperature), sriracha sauce would also be a great addition.


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