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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Asian Stock & Simple Soup

So it was too good to be true (the incredibly warm weather we just experienced, that is). Like a touch of summer to be relished amidst the transition from winter to spring, the heat came and went, and we are now back to the reality of chilly springtime weather in New England. Which isn't so bad if you have the right supplies on hand.

For me, getting through the cooler, typically-soggier days of March, April, and early May in anticipation of warmer weather means making soup. Meat or vegetable-based, hearty and chunky or light and brothy, I try to do a little bit of everything. With some Napa left over from making kimchi and a bunch of cilantro and Thai basil needing to be used, I set out to create a Asian-inspired stock and a simple, light soup of cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, and noodles. Consider adding little shrimps, cubes of tofu, or shelled edamame for a protein-boost.

Asian Stock
Makes (a little over) 2 quarts

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 medium onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and crushed
  • 6 stalks of celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 10 oz mushrooms
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, leaves & stems
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 peppercorns
  • salt to taste
Throw all of the ingredients into a large pot, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, for about 3 hours; stir occasionally and add more water if necessary. Turn off the heat, allow it to cool for 15 minutes, and then strain out solids using a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth-lined colander. Transfer the stock into airtight containers; store it in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months.

Simple Soup
Makes about 2 servings

  • 1 tbsp oil (I used walnut)
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups Asian cabbage, thinly sliced (can substitute cooking greens like kale, tatsoi, or mustard greens)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I used a blend of shiitake & oyster)
  • 1 quart Asian stock
  • 1 cup al dente soba or cellophane noodles (cooked with whole Thai basil leaves for extra flavor)
  • 4 scallions, chopped (can substitute spring onions)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • soy sauce/salt and pepper to taste
Heat a pot with oil and garlic over medium-low heat until fragrant. Turn up the heat and add the cabbage; saute for a minute, then add the mushrooms and saute one more minute. Add the stock, noodles, and the white part of the scallions to the pot and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro and green parts of the scallions. Serve with fresh Thai basil, sliced lime, sriracha, and fish sauce on the side. Just like the stock, store it in airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months.


Image by Rebekah Carter (2012).

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