Friday, November 15, 2013
As You Like It South-East Asian Inspired Soup with Chilli
MISS MARIGOLD'S HOT CHILLI SOUP "RECIPE" (feeds 4-6, depending on how hungry!)
Welcome to Miss M's Cookery Class!
I love making soup, & it's really easy if you just follow a few basics... it's slow food, soul food for the whole person, not just the body... when you cook soup, take time... stir in good intentions... it really makes a difference...if you make extra, you can freeze it for when you're cold & want something quickly... but cook it slowly... cook it lovingly... er... better read this before you begin as well!
There's no official "recipe" for this soup... so, as with almost all my cooking, it's "as you like it" - quantities will be whatever is in the store cupboard or garden, & it's never the same, but always sustaining.
I do need a few basic INGREDIENTS though:
onion, garlic, fresh ginger, chillies, & when I can purchase it, fresh turmeric, limes or lemons (can add a little of the zest as well - especially if supplies are short!) ...
carrots, chopped coriander (fresh, preferably with the roots attached), red capsicum... I like finely chopped fennel for sweetness & aroma...
*fish sauce (vegetarians substitute a little soy), soy sauce, tinned low fat coconut milk (ok, dessicated if you must!), sweet chilli sauce, good quality powdered vegie stock, good quality vegetable oil... sesame oil if you have it...water...salt - as pure & clean as you can get it - cheap supermarket salt leaves a nasty taste on the back of your tongue...
VEGETABLES: It's an "anything you've got" meal, so try to balance the flavours & textures to please your palate : create!
mushrooms, silverbeet (chard), baby spinach, baby bok choi, peas, snow peas (mangetout) green beans, shredded cabbage, mung bean (or any) sprouts, watercress, finely shredded kale
I have been known to add crushed tomatoes, extra fennel, zucchini (courgettes), broccoli, & I can't remember what else.
RICE NOODLES OR COOKED LONG GRAIN RICE can be added for "bulk" in cold weather. In fact, I'd even chuck in some cooked, diced potato, but remember to balance the flavours - starchy things seem to dull the piquancy...
USE : HEAVY BASED POT WITH A LID, (I also need a trivet on the stove, as I sometimes burn the bottom!) & NICE LONG HANDLED SPOON TO STIR (so you don't burn yourself!) and PLEASE make sure your KNIVES are SHARP so you don't cut yourself as easily, & so you actually slice through the vegetables, rather than bruising them... nicely cut vegies actually taste better - it's worth the trouble...
Collect your ingredients...
Chop 1 onion, & separately,
finely chop together 2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled fresh ginger, about the size of your thumb or less, 2 long, sweet de-seeded chillies, or 2 fiery birdseye chillis, - whatever you think (NOTE BELOW)
peeled fresh turmeric 3/4 size of thumb & a few cleaned coriander roots, if you have them - impossible to say how many - taste varies so much, so at least 6, & no more than 10, & powdered tastes different, but is acceptable)... a MORTAR & PESTLE are satisfying, & bash the tough coriander root well, but I prefer a sharp knife...hmmm...
So, as with any soup, slowly sweat your onion in a tablespoon (or so) of oil with lid on pot, 10 mins at least (do NOT burn it - this is crucial to the success of good soup!), to release its delicate sweetness, and then add the above ingredients, along with a dash of sesame oil, & a little citrus zest if liked, then cook very, very gently, until all is soft and the aromas combine... your kitchen will smell divine!
Add hard vegies, like a couple of carrots & a sliced capsicum & some fennel - sweat them gently, until they release some juices, then sweat some mushrooms if you like, for a bit of depth... then water to cover about 3/4 of vegetables, & some of the citrus juice, turn up the heat to simmer, & then begin to add the sauces & stock - PLAY with this part... adding just a dash of each at a time, & tasting in between until you're happy with it - fish sauce stinks, & overpowers the dish very easily - BE CONSERVATIVE!... add vegie stock before any salt - is already salty, & recommended stock/water ratio is on the packet! Add more water to cover well... simmer... taste... add coconut....taste... adjust sauces & seasoning...taste...there should be a balance of sweet & sour flavours... keep topping up the water if it evaporates.. (boiling from kettle is best)
Maximum 10 minutes before serving, add freshly chopped coriander, keeping some aside for garnish... herbs loose their robust essential oils if overcooked... and if you're using rice noodles or cooked rice, (or potato) this is a good time to add them, to stop them going gluggy (yuk!)... also, slivers of fennel, or bean sprouts or anything very tender should go in at the last minute, to keep them firm & fresh tasting....a final taste... adjust seasoning.
Serve in bowls, garnish with more chopped coriander (or whole leaves if you like) & finely sliced red chilli, with a bowl of sliced chilli on the side, & slices of lemon or lime, soy sauce, salt & extra sweet chilli. I'm pretty sure you already have your favourites!
... golden & steaming, smelling clean & fresh, tasty & nourishing... worth using fresh ingredients, organic if possible, & preferably from garden to plate!
*notes on chillies - they vary in heat! If you're unsure as to how hot they are, carefully try nibbling a bit without the seeds... if it's mild, use it whole, but if hot, de-seed - you can always add more as a condiment when your soup is cooked & WASH the juice off your hands, board & knife!!!