Monday, September 25, 2006

Soup Saves

So Friday I was bitching about being exhausted... and as the day wore on, it occurred to me that I was catching a cold. Hell if I was gonna let my ass get kicked by a cold just in time for the weekend. Obsessed with knocking it out, I decided that evening that I had to have something like hot & sour soup or Tom Yum - something spicy and pungent and warming.

After driving around in a daze trying to figure out where to get such a soup, I remembered that I already had coconut milk and ginger and miso and tamarind and various other asian condiments in my pantry. And I knew I had cilantro and chili paste and a couple limes - so even though I didn't know quite what I was going to make or how to make it, I decided to go home and figure it out.

I did a random search on blogger for "tom yum soup", and landed on the perfect entry featuring exactly the thing my body and soul needed. And I discovered a fun blog called Knitty Otter in the process! Yay for blogging and otters that knit!

Had to run to the market to pick up rice noodles, veggie stock and lemongrass, but let me tell you, it was worth the trip.

It was about 9:30 by the time I sat down to this steaming hot, citrus and ginger and lemongrass-infused, garlic and chili-spiked bowl of elixir, but wow - what a blessing. What a miracle in fact, cause it really did knock the cold right out of me.

Do check out Knitty Otter for the official recipe; below is my adaptation.

Bring several quarts of water to a boil in a big pot and turn of the heat. Add about 6 oz of rice noodles and let them soak for about 10 - 15 minutes.

In the meantime, dice a shallot, and use your handy microplane to zest a lemon and a lime. And then also reserve the juice of each. Peel, slice & dice about a big tablespoon of ginger. Take a stalk of lemongrass and cut it into several rough pieces, and whack each piece with the side of the knife to release the intoxicating aroma.

In a 2 quart saucepan, put the ginger, lemon and lime juice and zest, ginger, shallot and lemongrass. Add to the pot a generous teaspoon of chili garlic sauce (I use Uncle Chen's brand), about 2 big handfuls of cilantro, and a tablespoon of fish sauce. The recipe called for fish sauce but I used oyster sauce. Oyster = fish, right? Worked for me. Then, I added a quart of veggie stock but you could also use chicken stock. Simmer this for about 1/2 on up to an hour.

While the stock was simmering, I steamed a few sliced crimini mushrooms, some thin red pepper slices, brocolli and slivers of dinosaur kale, just until barely tender, and set them aside. Read the Knitty Otter version for variations - you can use chicken or shrimp but I just used what I had in the house.

Once the stock is done, strain out the bits and now you have your soup base - adjust the seasonings and add more lime juice if you like.

Now it's almost time to eat. Throw a portion of the rice noodles into a bowl and top with a scoop of the veggies and a ladel of the broth. Or hell, just drink the broth straight up. This will cure what ails you and it tastes so divine.

And then there was song....I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash this weekend; in particular: Unchained, American Recordings, and Now, There Was A Song. I also listened to Willie Nelson's Teatro - one of my favorites of all time - and Aretha Franklin Sings the Blues - let me just say that if you haven't heard this, you haven't lived. It's the perfect soundtrack to a Friday night.

Hooray for soup and song!

1 comment:

KnittyOtter said...

Oh cool. I like how you added the bit about the personal soundtrack at the end. :D Do you Last.FM?

I also think the idea of veggie stock sounds really flavorful.

There really is nothing like a nice hot bowl of soup to get you back to life. :D

When I get back from my next trip out of town I think I'm going to do a vegetable soup. I like mine spicy. *GRIN*