” aromatics from the far east”
This post has sat in my inbox for a while. This past weekend my daughter asked me to make Asian style soup, something like Pho or Tom Yum. We love Asian soups in our family at least the girls in our family do, that would be K my daughter and I( my son was out with his buddies and hubby on a work trip, both not big fans of Asian flavors). So we made this soup, photographed it and slurped it while watching a chick flick, had some cool mom daughter time.
The one problem I have found with Asian style soups, which I am really bothered by is the broth and the sodium content. Most recipes call for pork or beef bones/other parts and the ready ones like stock cubes/powders are really nothing but salt. I have seen ones which read salt content of 40% RDA per teaspoon. No joke! So I make my stock. I save veggie scraps like broccoli stems, cabbage core, lots of mushroom stems add a whole onions, a couple of carrots, garlic pods, ginger, lemongrass, galangal cover with water and boil /simmer them to get all they have to give. The result is a salt-free and fat-free veggie stock. Save and use in soup, cook rice etc. Freeze in ice trays or individual tubs for instant use. There are some brands that are low sodium and are pretty good, I like Wholefoods or TJ’s in the US. The rest of the soup is basically garnishes. I have listed some favorites, add or subtract to your taste.
- 6 cups low- sodium vegetable stock + 2 cups water
- 1 large onion halved, but keep the ends intact
- 2 pieces of 1/4 inch thick slices of ginger
- 2 cloves garlic whole
- 2 stalks lemongrass cut into 1 inch pieces
- spice mix( 1-3 inch piece cinnamon, 4 all spice, 6 cloves, 2 black cardamoms, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 8 whole black peppercorns) all tied up in a muslin cloth or spice ball. We will strain at the end so don’t worry if they go loose.
- Soy sauce/tamari/Braggs liquid aminos
- 6-8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles about 1 ounce per person
- 14 ounces extra firm tofu cubed
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon tamari or lo-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon oil
Garnish ( arrange in small bowls or a platter)
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms cleaned and sliced ( if using dried, reconstitute)
- 1/2 cup green beans or broccoli cut about 2 inches, cooked
- 1/2 cup peas, cooked
- 1 cup raw baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 cup green onions chopped
- handful of chopped mixed herbs like mint, Thai basil, cilantro
- juice of 2 limes and a few slices extra
- Sriracha sauce or any Asian style hot sauce
- Hoisin sauce or soy sauce replaces the traditional fish sauce which is predominantly is salt based and takes some taste adapting or not! the listed are good substitutes.
- On the high broil setting of the oven, broil halved onions and ginger slices and turn so they get charred evenly or on a very hot grill pan place the onion and ginger and do the same.
- Meanwhile in a large soup pot bring all the broth ingredients (minus the noodles) to a boil and simmer for 1 hour covered. Season with soy sauce or tamari and a little sugar to get the right balance. Strain the broth.
- While the broth simmer, in a separate pan warm oil and stir-fry the cubed tofu add the minced garlic, soy sauce and stir fry. Set aside.
- Also cook noodles per instructions on the packet. Set aside.
- Just before eating bring the broth back to boil. Place some noodles in each bowl and ladle soup broth to individual bowls.
- Serve family style so each person can garnish their bowls.