The BEST Miso Soup

I gotta say ….. hard to make a bowl of miso soup look exciting … but here it is, the best ever! I didn’t have any seaweed at home so added a few spinach leaves. Delicious!
  • 2 teaspoons dashi granules 
  • 4 cups water 
  • 3 tablespoons miso paste 
  • 1 (8 ounce) package silken tofu, diced 
  • 2 green onions, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch piece

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine dashi granules and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk in the miso paste. Stir in tofu. Separate the layers of the green onions, and add them to the soup. Simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

I think the key to this is the dashi. You can easily make your own dashi at home – just look up a few YouTube videos, but for the amount I use, keep some granules in the freezer and it is ready whenever I need it.

We followed the miso sop with these tasty Japanese dishes ….. chicken karaage with 2 dipping sauces, pork and cabbage gyoza and garlic soy snap peas. Goes without saying that a Japanese inspired dinner needs a serving of rice!

I often serve Miso soup to accompany a few other dishes, and this makes it very easy to prep a bit earlier and just leave it simmering – don’t add the tofu or green onions until closer to serving time.

Malaysian Laksa

It’s cold around here! If you are looking for a big bowl of comfort, well here you go! Dress it up however you like, made it vegetarian if so inclined, whatever you do, give it a try. This is perfect for a chilly night.

Once you have tried this creamy coconut broth, laced with spicy chili and fresh crunchy vegetables you will be putting this on repeat!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 2 cm (1 inch ish) ginger, grated
  • 1 lemongrass , white part grated
  •  2 birds eye chillis , finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (175g) laksa paste 
  • 400g / 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth 
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (sub soy but fish sauce recommended)
  • 2 tsp chili sauce
  • cooked noodles, either rice vermicelli or Udon noodles
  • any cooked protein if you like ….. chicken, prawns, crispy tofu, the options are up to you
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • sliced green onions
  • bean sprouts

METHOD

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan or small pot over medium low heat. Add garlic and ginger, sauté for 20 seconds, then add lemongrass and chillis. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add laksa paste. Turn heat up to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, or until fragrant.
  • Add chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce and 2 tsp of Chilli Sauce. Place lid on and simmer on for 10 minutes.
  • Adjust to taste using lime juice (for sour) and fish sauce (for saltiness). Leave on turned off stove with lid on for 5 minutes.

To assemble, place noodles in bowl, add in vegetables and bean sprouts – top with broth and then any of the fixings you like

Personal touches added to each bowl make all the difference. I used the “Umami Crisp” from Big Smoke in Whistler, BC to add in place of the chili paste.
I love to make this a one dish meal, so I saute or steam a bunch of fresh veg for color flavour and brightness. Use whatever you like. Cook separately from the laksa broth so you retain their color and brightness.

I’ve tried a number of laksa recipes, and they tend to disappoint. Part of the problem is a difficulty sourcing different pastes and sauces where we live. Laksa paste itself is a very complex flavour compound. This recipe came from Recipe Tin Eats, and it was her recommendation to use a paste that convinced me to try again. Nagi was right on with that suggestion, by the time you have enough of the right ingredients to make laksa paste, you would have to be making it frequently to keep all your supplies fresh. Hop on over to her blog for even more components to this dish, even recipes to make your own stock and chili paste.

We love this served with my green onion pancakes, perfect for dipping!

Dan Dan Mian Noodles

There is something so comforting about a bowl of noodles. I’ve got a fabulous recipe for Tan Tan noodles on here, but this is slightly different – and an entire meal in one bowl. Get as adventurous as you like with the add ins.

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp black bean sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth (use veg broth if you want to make this vegetarian)
  • 8 ounces egg noodles (Chinese style), rice noodles or Udon noodles
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 3-4 baby bok choy
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1/2 – 1 pound ground meat (I used pork but chicken would work well too)
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped (I used crimini but that is what was available, use whatever you can find)
  • black pepper
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 4 green onions, chopped

Garnish suggestions

  • sesame seeds, toasted
  • green onions, slivered
  • fresh bean sprouts

Typically, Dan Dan Mian is a spicy dish ….. however I’m not so good with extra spicy food. To make it more authentic, drizzle with chili oil when you are ready to serve. You can either buy one and have it to dress up many dishes, or make a quick, easy one that lives in the fridge for ages.

Chili Oil

Heat skillet over med heat – add:

  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)

Cook, stirring occasionally until garlic is fragrant – be careful not to burn it! Remove from heat and transfer to heat safe bowl or glass jar.

I got this recipe originally from http://www.halfbakedharvest.com – only tweaked it a bit for personal preferences. The chili oil is entirely hers.

Combine soy sauce, hoisin, black bean sauce, honey, vinegar, peanut butter & tahini. Stir well until smooth and creamy. (If the peanut butter and tahini are really cold it helps to heat up the mixture slightly). Add 1/3 cup water.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook whatever noodles you have decided to use. Drain well and set aside.

In the same pot, add a little neutral oil and saute the onion, green onion, garlic and ginger until soft and fragrant. Add in 1/2 of your soy sauce mixture. Stir to completely mix it all in and heat up the sauce slightly. Add broth and bring just to a simmer.

In a shallow fry or sauce pan heat up a little neutral oil and add the ground meat. Allow to sit without stirring for a few minutes to help with carmelizing the meat. When mostly cooked, add the mushrooms and shallot. Cook until the mushrooms give up their moisture, and the pan dries out again. Add in the remaining soy sauce mixture. Stir to coat well. Allow the mixture to continue cooking until crispy bits appear. This is an important step as it adds a lot of texture as well as flavour to the finished dish.

Bring the pot of broth back to a higher heat and add in whatever vegetables you have decided to use. Make sure to add them in the right order so your don’t end up with limp veg – nothing sadder. I used bok chow and as soon as they were wilted but still crisp, I turned the heat off and added the spinach and bean sprouts.

Ladle noodles into the bowl and add your broth with vegetables. Scoop a generous amount of the meat mixture over top and garnish with the suggestions listed.

Turning this dish into a vegetarian meal would be so easy – omit the ground meat and use extra mushrooms in that step. Make sure to add extra fresh veg to make it a full meal.

Absolutely delicious!

Make sure to simmer until the meat & mushrooms dry out a bit, getting those lovely little bits of caramelization that add so much flavour and texture.

Add vegetables – as many as you want.

I like to keep fresh vegetables FRESH. I only add the spinach and bean sprouts when I remove it from the heat.

Serve with scallion pancakes for a total win!

Wonton Soup

A gloomy April day needs just this kind of soup – so much flavour and just packed with fresh vegetables.  I think the miso is what really bring the flavour bomb.

Wonton Soup 4

Loads of vegetables, a few wontons and the best broth you could wish for.

 

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili oil
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 baby bok choy
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon yellow miso paste, or more, to taste

FOR THE WONTONS

  • 8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 36 2-inch won ton wrappers

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a large bowl, combine shrimp, garlic, green onions, oyster sauce, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, Sriracha and pepper.
  • To assemble the wontons, place wrappers on a work surface. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the shrimp mixture into the center of each wrapper. Using your finger, rub the edges of the wrappers with water. Fold the dough over the filling to create a half-moon shape, pinching the edges to seal; set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Whisk in chicken broth, soy sauce, mushrooms and 2 cups water.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until mushrooms have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in bok choy and green onions. Stir in miso paste until well combined, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in wontons until cooked through, about 2 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.
  • This soup is as flexible as the ingredients in your fridge – I like to prep them and stir fry them separately, which keeps them fresh and bright.

Wonton soup 1

A huge pile of fresh vegetables disappears in a hurry in this delicious broth.

Serve this incredible soup with these crispy scallion pancakes for a total win.

The soup recipe is courtesy of http://www.damndelicious.net and I’d recommend looking at her recipes …. everything I’ve tried has been fantastic.

Hot & Sour Soup

Nothing like a steaming bowl of hot and sour soup to fight off the cold season!  This soup is surprisingly easy to make and can be as versatile as the ingredients in your fridge.  You won’t be calling for take out after you give this a try.

Hot and Sour Sop

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek (or any Chinese hot sauce)
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 4-5 tbsp rice vinegar (start with 4 and see how it tastes to you)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • shitake mushrooms
  • thinly sliced red peppers
  • thinly sliced cauliflower
  • slivered snap peas
  • 6 ounces extra firm tofu, cut in small pieces
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • green onions, thinly sliced

For a little extra protein, stir in some cooked chicken or pork.

Combine chicken broth, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, hot sauce and white pepper.  Bring to a boil, then simmer.

Stir in vegetables.  Be as liberal with the vegetables as you like, I like to pack the soup with a variety.

Mix rice vinegar with corn starch and stir while pouring the mixture into the pot.  Allow to gently boil and thicken.  If you need more thickening, add a mixture of 2 tbsp vinegar and 1 tbsp corn starch.

This is the point where you really need to taste …. how hot do you like it?  How sour?  Work with the white pepper and vinegar if you need a little more punch in your soup.  Once you like the flavour it is time to work in the eggs.

Whisk egg until creamy, then pour into the soup in a very slow, thin trickle, stirring the pot as the egg goes in to create those little streams that help give you that true hot and sour soup texture.

Garnish with the sesame oil and green onions.  Best served with these amazing scallion pancakes.

Scallion Pancake 9.jpg

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup

During the cold of winter these vegetables are always available, and make the most comforting winter dinner.  When summer vegetables arrive however, with fresh new potatoes, leeks and fennel from your own garden or farmers market, this soup is the perfect meal on a cool, rainy spring – early summer night.

Roasted potato Fennel Soup 10

I love rich, creamy soups, but what I really love …. is the toppings.  Every pureed soup needs something to create texture and bacon with fresh herbs does the job.

  • 4 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp  freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup sliced leek
  • 3 cups sliced fennel bulb
  • 3 quarts chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 cup cream (omit if you want it to be vegan)

GARNISH

  • fresh chopped chives, parsley, basil and fennel fronds
  • crispy bacon bits

Preheat oven to 400

In large bowl toss the potatoes with olive, garlic, salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 1

New potatoes, tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Yum whatever you do wth them!

Spread on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through.  (use 2 sheets if necessary, you don’t want them crowded)

Saute onions, fennel and leek with 2 tbsp olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat until translucent. (I like to cook my bacon in the pot first in order to use the fat …. but for vegan or vegetarian options just omit the bacon and it’s fat).

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 3

Season every step of the way!

Add chicken or vegetable stock to onion mixture and bring it to a boil. Add roasted potatoes, turn to a gentle simmer and cook until all vegetables are soft.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 5

Puree until all vegetables are creamy … this is the point to add fresh minced herbs and the cream, if using.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 7

Taste, and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 6

Mince up a handful of fresh herbs …. 

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 9

Toss the herbs in and stir well with the blended soup.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 2

Prep your garnish … today I liked the idea of crunchy bacon (well honestly most soups love crunchy bacon) … as well as chives, basil and fennel fronds.

 

Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Soup

On a cool night, this creamy soup is just perfect.

Chicken Mushroom Soup 5

I forgot to add the chicken tonight, and it was still delicious.  It could be completely vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 4 cups chicken stock
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • slivered green onions
  • cooked and crumbled bacon

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in the stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in half and half until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, rosemary, green onions and bacoN, if desired.

Chicken Mushroom soup 2

Chicken Mushroom soup 1

I used crimini and white white mushrooms tonight, but you could use any mushroom.

Chicken Mushroom Soup 3

Chicken Mushroom soup 4

I love the way soups are taken over the top with the garnishes.

 

Laksa

Laksa 5

Ready to be garnished with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, bean sprouts, maybe some cilantro sprigs and a few fresh sliced hot peppers – then drizzle more sauce over top and enjoy!

Laksa …. or Thai curry noodle soup …. whatever you call this, you are going to L O V E the exquisitely well balanced flavours in this noodle bowl.  This dish is so versatile and can be a completely vegetarian or even vegan dinner with a few tweaks.

 

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 10 prawns/shrimp , peeled and deveined 
  • or
  • 1 chicken breast, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves , finely grated
  • 2 tsp ginger , finely grated
  • 1 stalk lemongrass , peeled, finely grated 
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Penang curry paste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp chilli garlic paste or other chilli paste , adjust to taste 
  • about 4-5 cups of fresh vegetables – sliced and ready to be added to the broth
  • 400 g/14oz coconut milk
  • 2 cups /500ml chicken broth (or vegetable)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 slices fresh galangal
  • 2 tsp lime zest (1 lime)
  • 200 g / 7 oz fresh egg noodles, prepared per packet (although really you can use any noodle)
  • Big handful bean sprouts

Laksa 2

Have everything ready to go before you start cooking, and it will all come together quickly.

Toppings / for serving:
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
  • Sliced red onion or scallions

Laksa 1

Did you even know lemongrass could be grated?  So easy and quick!

 

Instructions
Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add prawns or chicken and sear both sides until light golden (doesn’t need to cook inside). Remove onto plate.
Turn heat down to medium. If pot is looking dry, add a touch of extra oil.
Add garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Saute for 20 seconds until garlic is golden.
Add sugar and fish sauce. Stir and cook for 30 seconds – it should look like caramel.
Laksa 3

 

Add chilli paste, coriander and curry powder. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.
Add chicken broth and coconut milk. Stir and bring to simmer, add lime leaves and galangal.
Simmer for 2 minutes, then add lime zest and return prawns and chicken into broth, heat just until cooked through.

Laksa 4

Tonight’s bowl of laksa included mushrooms, snap peas, sweet peppers, zucchini & cauliflower.

Serving:
  1. Place noodles in bowl. Ladle over soup.
  2. Top with bean sprouts and coriander, plus toppings of choice (chilli, red onion, Asian fried shallots).
  3. Squeeze over lime juice to taste.

This recipe came from a great food blog – RecipeTin Eats – pop on over to her blog for some more great recipes.

Coconut Curry Noodle Bowls with Peanut Dressing

I’ve been trying to simplify some of my dinner plans ….. as much as I like puttering in the kitchen for a couple of hours after work (what I call kitchen yoga), there are times I just need to make a quick dinner.  This is one of my favourites …. quick, easy, healthy and most of all, absolutely delicious.  You don’t really have to make the peanut dressing to drizzle over, but honestly, isn’t everything better with peanut sauce?

coconut-curry-noodle-bowl

Tonight’s version of this bowl included prawns, mushrooms, snow peas, bok choy and lots of colourful peppers.

PEANUT DRESSING:
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 heaping Tbsp natural salted peanut butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
splash of lime juice
scant 1/4 tsp chili garlic sauce
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
splash of very hot water (only if too thick)

COCONUT CURRY:
1 tablespoon oil
2 shallots
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 14-ounce can regular coconut milk
1 ½ cup reduced sodium chicken or veggie broth
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon hot chili paste (sambal oelek)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)

BOWL: (These are suggestions, use whatever veg you have on hand)

4 ounces rice or egg noodles
1 tablespoon oil
half an onion, chopped
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
sesame seeds & chopped peanuts for topping
limes for serving
a handful of fresh basil & cilantro for serving

I’ve also used snow peas, zucchini, sweet peppers & bean sprouts.

To prepare your peanut sauce combine all ingredients except the hot water, blend well and stir in just enough of the hot water to allow everything to become smooth and creamy.

Preparing the curry sauce is pretty easy.  Heat oil in a sauce pan and stir in shallots and fresh ginger, saute briefly just until translucent and stir i the curry paste.  Fry curry paste for 2-3 minutes, just to allow flavours to wake up.  Stir in the coconut milk, and stock.  Simmer for a few minutes just to allow flavours to get to know each other…… Taste …. if you can handle a bit more heat stir in the hot chili paste.  Remove from heat and add the sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce.  Taste again and adjust.  Remember, every brand of these ingredients will have a slightly different profile, and you need to make adjustments for that.  Last thing is to add the lime juice.  It should wake everything up and make you want to keep tasting …..

The method is fairly flexible, saute your veg in a wok with the oil just until crisp tender and set aside.  Alternatively, if you are using egg noodles, once you have removed the egg noodle from the boiling water, plunge the veg in for just 1-2 minutes until crisp tender and remove.

SERVING TIME:

Place noodles in the bottom of your bowl, layer on the veg, and sprinkle with toppings.  Gently pour over the coconut curry.  You can make this as saucy as you like by doubling up the curry sauce if you want more of a soup.  Drizzle over the peanut sauce and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup – with a Mediterranean twist

At this time of year the butternut squash is coming out of the gardens and so fresh that when you cut into it beads of moisture appear – yum yum! Butternut squash soup is a favorite of mine, but this time I felt like a little twist.

Butternut Squash Soup with a Mediterranean twist

Butternut Squash Soup with a Mediterranean twist

You will need:

roasted butternut squash
chicken stock
onions
garlic

Seasonings: Ras al Hanout, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper

Garnishes: Grated feta cheese, minced chives, crispy bacon pieces

In a soup pot cook bacon pieces (I like to cut my bacon slices in thin slivers). Remove bacon as soon as it gets crispy. Remove some bacon fat, but leave enough to sauté your cinnamon stick, onions and garlic until soft. Add chicken stock and roasted butternut squash. Remove cinnamon stick as soon as you get a hint of it in the broth, but not overwhelming. Cook until everything is steaming hot – puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender (if using a blender take care to leave an opening for the steam to escape – you do not want to end up wearing this hot soup). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The portions on this will vary greatly on the size of your squash, and the amount of soup you want! For tonight there were only 2 of us so I used 1/2 a squash (about 2 cups) to 4 cups of chicken stock.

Serve once the soup has been pureed – garnish with the chives, bacon bits and grated feta.

For a vegetarian option, leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock.

Either way – a delicious soup!