Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Chinese Inspired Broccolini Soup...
You know that delicious soup you always get in Bad Chinese restaurants? The one that usually comes complimentary with the meal. It’s got that rich salty broth that goes down so smooth it’s almost like drinking a glass of oil. It comes served in delicate cup sized bowls, with wide spoons that have short handles. It’s got all those beautiful uniform slivers of julienne vegetables swimming around in liquid MSG. All except those big honkin’ broccoli florets. Whole and intact with a texture that’s soft yet crunchy. Yeah, you know the soup I’m talking about. Well, the other day that’s what I was craving. I mean really, really craving! All I could think about was broccoli cooked to perfection and bathed in a mouth-watering salty broth. Which is odd since it’s been ages since I’ve eaten bad Chinese and even longer since I’ve given that particular soup a moments thought.
The tastebuds want what they want I suppose, so I finally broke down and decided to try my hand at re-creating a healthy vegan version of that soup. The only problem was that A) aside from a few essentials like Broth, cabbage, broccoli, green onion and carrots I had no idea what else went into that kind of soup - as I said it’s been ages.- and B) I didn’t have any broccoli!
But do you think I let that stop me? Of course not. I had a pound of broccolini which I decided was just as good if not better then broccoli, and the freedom of imagination to do whatever else I pleased. So armed with nothing but my patchy memories I entered the kitchen to work a little magic, and magic is definitely what happened. Now while I can’t say that this soup is in anyway authentic, nor can I say that it tastes exactly like the salty Chinese soup of my childhood memories I can say that this soup is delicious and oil-free. More importantly it has the two main components for such a soup, broccoli, and salty flavor. Which in the end I guess was all I was really looking for. To me this is the perfect soup to eat on a cold fall or winter day when all you want to do is cuddle up in a blanket and read a book. The perfect soup to eat when you’re feeling a little under the weather. Hot, nourishing, and super simple and quick to make. Depending on the deftness of your knife skills you could have a big pot made in about 30 minutes. Who doesn’t love that?
Chinese Inspired Broccolini Soup
1 Small Yellow Onion - Quartered and sliced into thin quarter moons
10-15 cloves garlic crushed or pressed (or very finely minced)
2 Tbsp Ginger Root Grated
1 lb Broccolini (or broccoli)
4-6 C Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
3 Carrots grated
2 C Napa Cabbage sliced thin
1 Bunch Green Onions sliced (Green & White Parts)
2 Tbsp Red Miso Dissolved in 1/4 C Water (or to taste)
2-4 Tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce (or to taste)
½ tsp Japanese 7 Spice Blend (or to taste)
- Add your Onion, Garlic and Ginger to a medium sized soup pot with about a 1/4 C of vegetable broth. Saute on high until onions are soft and translucent and garlic and ginger are fragrent. Roughly 7-10 minutes.
- While onions are sauteeing slice the stems of your broccolini into small rounds. Leaving the broccolini florets intact. Unless you want more bite sized pieces as I did, then you can slice the florets as well. Add the stems ( but NOT the florets) into the pot along with the onions as they’re sauteeing.
- Add the vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling reduce heat to medium or medium-low and add Cabbage, carrots, Green onion, Broccolini Florets, Japanese 7 Spice, Soy Sauce, and Miso. Stir to combine then cover and let simmer over medium for 5-10 minutes.
- Because carrots, napa cabbage and green onions are sliced or grated so finely they will cook in no time at all. If you have decided to slice up your broccolini florets they too will cook fast, and so the cooking time will be close to five minutes. If you’ve left the broccolini florets large and intact they could take 10 minutes or slightly longer to get to that nice soft crunch stage. So just keep an eye on it.
- When Broccolini is at your level of tenderness, taste soup for flavor, adjust as needed and serve hot, maybe with a nice side salad.
*** Note - Japanese 7 Spice is a seasoning blend made up of ground Orange Peel, Black, White and Toasted Sesame, Ginger, Nori, Cayenne, and Szechuan Peppercorns. It’s got a hint of citrus from the orange, a bit of heat form the pepper, and a touch of salt from the Nori. It’s a really wonderful combination of flavor that I think really adds something to this soup. However if you don’t have it you can always improvise by creating your own 7 spice blend. But generally Asian Markets, speciality spice stores, or specialty grocers should have it. For those in the Chicagoland area I get mine at The Spice House.***
*** Note - Gluten-Free if using Wheat-Free Tamari Soy Sauce***