Quick Comforting Dumpling Soup

 

Some nights are just not cooking nights. I come from work late, tired, perhaps after cooking all day, and the last thing I want to do is make myself a meal before crawling into bed with a glass of wine to watch Friday Night Lights. Sometimes I reach for leftovers, or homemade yogurt and granola, or just a hunk of cheese and some crackers, but I often reach into my freezer and pull out a giant bag of frozen dumplings. I buy my dumplings (vegetable or kimchi ) in giant bags at HMart, and sometimes they are a lifesaver. I usually fry them with garlic chips and make a quick dipping sauce, but sometimes I make a quick, comforting broth and put them in soup.

Obviously, this broth could be made more complicated (and have more depth of flavor) with the additions, but this recipe is meant for quickness! You can make this broth on the stove, then add the frozen dumplings and heat until they are soft, or package the broth in a mason jar and take it to work, frozen dumplings separate, for a quick lunch.

 

Dumpling Soup Broth

serves 4

 

I Tbs minced ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

2 shallots, minced

2 tsp. vegetable oil

4 cups water

1 cube porcini mushroom bouillon

1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce

1 finger of fresh lemongrass, sliced finely or smashed (or 1/2 tsp. dried)

3 dried red thai chilies, or 1/2 tsp. chili paste

dash of chili sesame oil

dash of rice wine vinegar

 

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan and fry the ginger, garlic, shallots and fry until golden. Add the water, lemongrass and bouillon, stirring until dissolved. Add the crushed chili peppers, or chili paste, if using, and whisk. Add the soy sauce, and then the frozen dumplings, and simmer until the dumplings are soft. Add a splash of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar to finish. Garnish with chopped scallion, sesame seeds, or more fried shallots.

 

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Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai

I love Vietnamese food, but often struggle at authentic restaurants to find vegetarian options. Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai, under the glowing neon train sign in Chinatown, has a HUGE menu, and I was not only able to find a couple of options, but they happily substituted out the shrimp for tofu and the soup above. The good news? Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai is very very cheap, has an extensive cheap drink list, and a huge menu (if that’s your thing). There are 10 fully vegetarian dishes on the menu, and many can be easily tweaked. True to many Asian hole-in-the-wall restaurants, it’s brightly lit and food arrives very quickly – not the best place for a romantic date, but fun, serviceable, and let me say it again – cheap. The bad news? I maybe didn’t make the best choice. I was craving a giant bowl of soup,and ordered the Canh Thap Cam house special soup. While the soup was packed with vegetables, it was a little bland.I watched the vegetarian hot pot pass my table with envy. No matter – chili oil to the rescue! If you’re in the neighborhood, and craving Thai/Vietnamese, give them a try.

Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai on Urbanspoon

Thai Curried Squash Soup

Arriving home from a long vacation, I looked around my kitchen, realize there is very little fresh in the house, and decided to make a pantry soup for friends arriving for dinner and a movie. Squash can keep almost forever in a cool location, and I had these leftover from my last few CSA pick-ups in November. A few onions, carrots and apples relaxing nicely in my crisper, and some pantry basics rounded out this spicy, creamy soup with inspiration from a recipe from Bon Appetit.

2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup diced white onion
1 cup diced carrots
1.2 cup diced fuji apple
2-4 tsps. red thai chili paste
2 medium crook neck squash, peeled, seeded and diced
4 cups rich vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 14 oz. can light coconut milk
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onions, carrots and apple, cooking on medium-high and stirring often, until the onions are golden. Add the chili paste, stirring to coat the vegetables, and cook for 3 minutes, until the paste toasts and becomes fragrant. Add the squash, vegetable both and bay leaves, raising heat to high and bringing to a boil. Cover and lower heat to medium-low, keeping broth at a low boil and stirring occasionally until vegetables are very soft, about 40 minutes. Remove the pot from heat, and remove the bay leaves from the pot. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth*, and then return to heat. Add the can of coconut milk and the salt, stirring until completely blended. Add pepper to taste. Serve with toasted squash seeds.+

* You can use a regular blender to puree the soup, but be sure not to fill the vessel completely, as the steam from the hot soup can cause the lid of the blender to shoot off, and hot soup to fly everywhere!

+ keep the seeds from the squash to toast for soup or salads. Rinse the seeds, then coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toast in a 300 degree oven or toaster oven for 5 minutes.

Thai Cabbage Slaw, Mineola Tempeh and Kiwi salsa

Thai Cabbage Slaw
Thai Cabbage Slaw

I’m so glad that I discovered I love cabbage. This recipe is a variation on a recipe posted on 28 Cooks, itself a variation of a recipe from The Daily Raw Cafe. Or course, I made some changes based on what I had in the kitchen and pantry, and what I like best. It was crunchy, delicious, and just the right balance of sweet and spicy. What a way to brighten a winter evening!

Mineola Tempah with Kiwi salsa
Mineola Tempah with Kiwi salsa

You could also make this tempeh and salsa with a tangarine, but I love easy-to-peel mineolas in the winter, and I had a big giant bowl of them on my kitchen counter.

Thai Cabbage Slaw

serves 4 (hugely)

4 cups thinly sliced red cabbage

4 large carrots, julienned

4 Tbs. rice wine vinegar

1/2 c. almond butter

1 Tbs. peanut oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced

3 hot red chili peppers, minced

1 Tbs. honey

juice and zest of one lime

salt, to taste

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Instructions: Toss the cabbage, carrots, and rice wine vinegar in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, mix together the almond butter, peanut oil, garlic, ginger, chilies, honey, lime juice and zest and salt until smooth. Mix into the cabbage mixture, until evenly coated. The sauce is thick, and  you’ll probably need to use your hands to ensure an even distribution. Add the fresh cilantro, and toss. Garnish with additional chilies, or cilantro if you wish.

Mineola Tempeh

serves 4

16 oz. Tempeh

1 Tbs. peanut oil

marinade:

Juice of 2 mineolas, plus zest

4 Tbs. soy sauce

1 Tbs. sugar (I use demera)

pinch of cardamon

salt, to taste

Instructions: Mix all the marinade ingrediants in a shallow bowl. Divide the tempeh into 4 pieces, then cut each piece into 6 strips. Toss gently in the marinade, and allow to marinate for as much time as you have – 5 minutes to 1 day.  Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet. Add just the tempeh, lightly frying on one side. Flip the tempeh and add the marinade.  It will carmelize quickly, so keep a careful eye on the tempeh to prevent burning.

Kiwi Salsa

2 whole kiwis, peeled

1 mineola, peeled

1 tsp. olive oil

2 diced hot chili peppers

pinch of salt

Instructions: Dice the kiwi and mineola. Add the olive oil, chilies, and salt, tossing gently. Allow to marinate for a few mintues before serving.

Take a look at that gorgeous red cabbage!
Take a look at that gorgeous red cabbage!