Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Soup is My Friend

More of my artwork here and also here

As chemo takes its cumulative toll, my tongue, mouth, and throat are increasingly sore. Food, even plain water, tastes funny. On my worst days, it's difficult to swallow. But soup goes down easy.

Since I've begun making my love affair with soup public on this blog, I've heard that some of you find find the prospect of soup-making intimidating. I've also received some requests for recipes.

I am sorry to report, I rarely use recipes. On the bright side, you don't need them either. If you know a few basics, it's very difficult to mess up soup.

I like this kind
Here's a simple place to start, you can make this in ten minutes: miso soup.

Miso is a Japanese ingredient, a savory, salty paste of cultured bean and grain, and it comes in many flavors. It's delicious and good for you, and it makes soup-making a snap. You can find it in the refrigerated section of any good health-oriented grocery store.

The fastest and cleanest-tasting way to prepare miso soup is to put water over medium heat, add to it some diced veggies and maybe some tofu (or a little leftover chicken, cooked noodles, whatever you like). For veggies, I recommend starting with carrots and scallions, mushrooms if you like them, perhaps something green and leafy, or some frozen peas. Or scratch that — use whatever you have on hand.

For more depth of flavor, saute your vegetables for a couple minutes before adding the water. Really tender greens like baby spinach can be added at the very end, when the soup comes off the heat.

The ratio of water to solids should be about the way you'd like it in your bowl. Simmer five minutes or so or until the veggies are done or close to it (they'll keep cooking in the hot water even when the heat is off).

To serve: put a splash of the hot liquid in your bowl along with a generous spoonful of miso. I recommend getting two kinds: a mellow white (sweeter) and a red (stronger). Try using a little of each. Combine the water and miso well, then fill your bowl with soup and stir it up. If it tastes too bland, stir in more miso.

Voila. Now you know how to make soup. Without a recipe. And if you were asking for the recipe for yesterday's soup, saute the onions and celery in a little olive oil before adding water and everything else I mention. There you have it.


Anonymous said...

Miso is wonderful. My favorite is South River Miso's Dandelion Leek: http://www.southrivermiso.com/store/p/9-Dandelion-Leek.html

I made my first chicken broth/soup last night. Not so scary after all!

- Dagmar

Kerry said...

Soup is the ultimate comfort food,love to make it, love to eat it...ground fennel seed is my favorite secret ingredient to any vegetable based soup...add some sage & thyme or rosemary & tomato for a meditteranean flavor...
Thinking of you as usual kiddo!

megan said...

You are awesome. Thank you. And even for the kitchen-phobic (like myself) this sounds like it's manageable. And delicious!

Anonymous said...

Would love to hear how the borscht was. And, what kind of soup would you like next time I come? Mom

Anonymous said...

YUM!!!! Thank you Amy. I've always been intimidated to use miso. Bruce will LOVE THIS!!

Tamara said...

A great soup cookbook: http://www.amazon.com/New-England-Soup-Factory-Cookbook/dp/1401603009