This is one of those incredibly good, incredibly simple recipes that you come across every once in a while. I had something similar to this from one of the Chinese places downtown, decided to try to find a recipe to make it myself, and then did a bit of a riff on it based on what I had to hand. This is done in 15 minutes, incredibly simple, cheap if you have most of the stuff on hand, and has a good umami flavor about it.

Chinese Egg and Tomato Soup
Lasts three lunches, roughly

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 c vegetable stock
  • 1 T soy sauce (I used dark aged soy sauce)
  • 2 large eggs
  • (finished with a dash of fish sauce, recipe also recommends a dash of sesame oil)

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add your tomatoes and sugar, and bring to a simmer (pic 1). Then add your grated ginger, veggie stock, and soy sauce, and bring to a boil (pic 2). While the soup is being bought to a boil, whisk your eggs until broken up (pic 3). Once boiling, slowly pour the eggs into the soup while stirring the soup (pic 4). Then, finish with a dash of fish sauce (and sesame oil, if you so choose), and enjoy!

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This is a pretty straight forward, budget friendly soup. Not my favorite I’ve ever had from the site it’s originally from, but solid enough. The spices on this are super light, and I would recommend experimenting with them significantly. As is, this didn’t make too much of an impression on me.

Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup
Makes enough soup for a quart container and a little more

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • half of an onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minimum, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated (tip in recipe)
  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 1 c dry red lentils
  • 6 c vegetable stock
  • 1 T curry powder
  • sea salt

Heat your olive oil over medium heat, and add the diced onion, minced garlic, and grated ginger. To make it as easy as possible to grate the ginger (and what I’ve found gets the best flavor in recipes) is to freeze the whole root, and whenever you need it, take it out and grate it straight into the pot. Still fresh (even though the root’s been frozen, the grated ginger will warm up in the cooking process), and has even made recipes taste better. Saute until the onion is soft and transparent.

Then, add the pumpkin, lentils, veggie stock, and curry powder. Stir to combine, cover with a lid, and bring the heat to medium-high to bring the soup to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low and bring the soup down to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring here and there. After 20 minutes, the lentils should be soft, and the soup should have thickened a bit.

Taste it and add sea salt and more curry powder to your personal taste, and enjoy!

This is a good, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fall soup. It makes a hell of a lot, too, so I’m gonna have plenty of this for leftovers down the line (which is good, because the boyfriend loved it).  The most work you’re gonna put into this is peeling and chopping and dicing and mincing everything up, but once that’s done, you pretty much just throw it in the pot and let it sautee/simmer. 

I didn’t include the peanut garnish from the original recipe, however, this would probably be improved even further by a dollop of peanut butter in the soup. This is pretty damn good as is, though.

Massaman Curry Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 Anaheim chiles (substitute red chile of choice if you don’t like Anaheims), seeded and minced
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 c vegetable stock
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 T massaman curry paste (or more to taste)
  • 2 large leaves kale, torn
  • 2 7 oz packages udon noodles (I used Sanukiya Jumbo Udon noodles)

Take your olive oil, heat it over medium high heat in a large pot, and add your Anaheims, garlic, and ginger, sauteeing until fragrant (about one minute). Add in your carrot and sweet potato, and sautee for another four to five minutes, stirring frequently.

Then, add your vegetable stock, coconut milk, and curry paste, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for a good fifteen to twenty minutes, until your sweet potatoes and carrots in particular are good and fork tender. 

To finish, add in your torn kale and your udon noodles, and stir frequently, simmering until the noodles come apart and thicken slightly, and the kale starts to wilt. And then, enjoy your ridiculously hearty soup!

I figured that so long as I was trying to make chicken stock, and so long as I had some scraps and spare vegetables from other recipes, and a fridge drawer full of some veggies I wouldn’t necessarily be using quickly (the place where my boyfriend works trades goods with a local farmer, so he bought me what they got in trade), I may as well try my hand at making some vegetable stock. 

(I still have a drawer with a large bag of beets and some patty pan squashes and a zucchini that I could probably use as an assault weapon. Seeking suggestions.)

Some tips for making veggie stock that I got from both this recipe and a good friend: 

  • don’t use carrot tops (they make it bitter)
  • beets will give it a weird color
  • don’t salt your stock (since you don’t know the salt levels of what recipes you’re using it in might call for)
  • only simmer your stock for 120 mins (2 hours) tops, as the stock doesn’t have collagen in it that needs to develop like a meat stock

And generally, your recipe for this is gonna vary heavily, depending on whatever you have available. I used leeks and leftover leek ends, some spare carrots, shallots, parmesan rinds, peppercorns, garlic, kale, and a patty pan squash.  Honestly, just save your veggie scraps from whatever you might’ve been making, and use those. 

Also? This is gonna make a lot. I used half of that big container (six cups) in an upcoming recipe. I’m gonna have enough for a damn long time. 

Vegetable Stock

Ingredients

  • whatever vegetable scraps/leftover vegetables from other recipes you might have on hand (see above for what all I used this time, and for what not to use)
  • parmesan rinds (seriously, these add a great flavor)
  • bay leaf
  • small handful of peppercorns
  • peeled garlic cloves, maybe a shallot
  • water
  • (original recipe recommends herbs of choice and sea salt, honestly, you don’t need much more than the above)

In a large pot, take your vegetables/vegetable scraps, parmesan rinds, bay leaf, peppercorns, peeled garlic cloves and shallot, and cover completely with water. Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer, and simmer for an hour and a half to two hours, until the stock looks similar to picture 3. Take a slotted spoon, scoop the boiled veggies out, and then run the soup through a strainer, to catch whatever may have been missed by the slotted spoon. 

Put the stock in a storage container, and depending on what you’re going to do with it, either use immediately, toss in the fridge for a few days, or store in the freezer for long term use. 

This is one of the more interesting flavor combinations I’ve ever tried. Caramelized pears and blue cheese makes perfect logical sense to me, but as a cream based soup?? (It works way better than you’d think.)  

I’m not quite sure if I’m feeling it at the moment, but honestly, worst comes to worst I try this again in a while. (Plus, we’re still in pear season at the farmer’s market for a good long while, this will probably be even better come fall.)

Parts of the original recipe are a bit vague/contradicting, so I’ve clarified where I can and honestly just guessed where I can’t. Kevin also recommends crispy prosciutto as a garnish for this, and I’d agree with that – however, this was made for vegetarians on this initial round, so I’ll try that in the future. 

Caramelized Pear and Blue Cheese Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • 6 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch pieces (I used most of a small bag of Asian pears from the farmer’s market)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • .5 t thyme (ideally fresh and chopped, but ground works just fine if you don’t have any)
  • 3 c vegetable stock
  • .5 lbs potato, peeled and diced (I used some small red potatoes)
  • 4 oz crumbled blue cheese (I used a gorgonzola per recipe recommendations)
  • .5 c milk (half and half and heavy whipping cream are also options)
  • sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • (optional: diced crispy proscuitto or bacon or pancetta if making it not vegetarian!)

Melt your butter over medium high heat in a large pot. As soon as it’s melted, add the brown sugar, and cook until the butter and sugar starts to bubble (see pic 1). Add in your pear pieces, and cook until lightly browned and tender (this took about 5 to 7 minutes, should look like pic 2). 

Then, add your onion, and cook until tender, about another three to five minutes. Add in the thyme and garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute) , then add in the broth, milk, and potato. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, until the potato is tender (about ten to fifteen minutes, I went for ten because one of the people I was cooking for had to leave soon). 

If you have a stick blender, take it and puree the soup until you’ve got a nice silky soup. If you don’t, put it in the blender in batches, and puree until smooth.  Turn off your heat, return the soup to the pot, and then take your blue cheese crumbles and stir them in in small batches until melted, tasting after each batch to make sure that the cheese doesn’t overwhelm the sweetness of the caramelized pears too much. Once you’ve got it at the perfect balance for your tastes, add in the sea salt and pepper, give it a last stir, and serve! (The recipe mentions stirring in the milk again here, I chose not to, and it still came out well.) (If you would want to add in the pancetta/prosciutto/bacon, this is where you’d do it.)

Looking for a quick, simple meal? The above took a half hour to put together, and, other than the fire roasted tomatoes, I had almost all of it in my pantry already. The remaining ingredients you would need to pick up are mostly cheap. (I don’t know where OP shops that fire roasted tomatoes are so cheap, but the only ones I’ve found out here are an organic brand, and they run about $2.50 a can out here.)

Plus, I used a neat trick I just learned about. Have leftover tomato paste from something else? Take it out of the can, either freeze it in an ice cube tray or in a glass jar (I went with the latter), and when you need to use it again, just take it out of the freezer, let it warm up a bit, and boom, you’re good to go. I froze what remained of my last jar of tomato paste a while ago, so I just let the jar warm up for this, scooped out what I needed, and then tossed the rest back in the freezer. Works like a charm.

Smoky Tomato Soup
Lasts 3.5 meals as a main

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • .5 T smoked paprika
  • .5 t cumin
  • 2 15 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 c vegetable stock
  • .5 t dark brown sugar
  • pepper to taste (if you can get freshly ground pepper, great, but if not, your standard pepper works just fine)

Heat your olive oil in a pot over medium heat, and add your garlic and onion, cooking about five minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Then, add your paprika, cumin, and tomato paste, and stir together and cook for about two minutes, to let the tomato paste caramelize a bit.

Then, add your remaining ingredients (fire roasted tomatoes, vegetable stock, dark brown sugar, pepper), stir to combine, and simmer for ten minutes to heat through. 

And then, no more than fifteen to twenty minutes after you started, you have your soup ready to go! Have some bread on the side to dip in it, or maybe a grilled cheese sandwich too.