Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Soup du semaine

One month ago today my mom left for me a small jar of soup, which became my lunch the following day and which I found myself craving again not too long ago, so I decided to take a shot at recreating it.  I don't know why I didn't just call her and get the recipe, but here is (approximately) what I came up with, based on her concoction and some similar recipes I found online.  It turned out pretty darn tasty.  It's also full of stuff that's good for your guts, your immune system, your circulation, your kidneys and liver, and your general sense of well-being.  It's a warming, stimulating and cleansing soup, good for these waning (and sometimes sluggish) days of winter. It's hearty but still light, slightly sweet with a twinge of acid and a bit of bite... Even if you're not a big fan of cabbage, or tofu, or anything else, you'll probably like this.

Hot and Sour Cabbage Soup

1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp canola or peanut oil
2 c onions, diced or sliced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, in tiny matchsticks
1 serrano chile, sliced (seeds and all.  any hot pepper will do and 2-3 of them would be better.)
2 c shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced (cremini or white are an acceptable if less nourishing and yummy substitute. also do save stems for stock, or stir-fry sauce.)
2 med carrots, sliced, or halved and sliced, or diced, or whatever
1/2 med head of green cabbage, sliced to 1/4" and chopped in 1-2" lengths
1 15 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
3-4 c chicken or vegetable stock 
2-3 c water, or as desired
1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
3 tbsp shoyu
1/4 c rice vinegar
1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
10 oz. super firm tofu, cubed (I like Wildwood sprouted)
freshly ground black pepper, a lot of it (maybe 1/4 tsp?)
2 tbsp black sesame seeds (they're pretty and they're good for you. go to the Asian grocery; it's fun!)
1/4 lime, squeezed (2 tsp?)
sriracha sauce, to taste (or add more chiles/cayenne, above)

Heat the oil in a good-sized soup pot.  Saute the onions until they begin to golden, then toss in the ginger, chile and mushrooms and saute for a minute or two more.  Add the carrots and cabbage and give everything a good stir before adding the tomatoes, stock, cayenne, shoyu, and vinegar (and fish sauce, if used...I think I added some, not sure...).  Add the tofu and water, to the desired consistency, followed by a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.  Stir well, cover and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for another fifteen minutes or so, until the carrots and cabbage are tender.  Throw in a handful or two of black sesame seeds and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

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