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[personal profile] levertovfan
So I consume a lot of soup. It's generally noodle or quinoa soup that I make by heating up water and adding soup mix or bouillon cubes or Better Than Bouillon, sometimes sauteing garlic, ginger and/or onions in the bottom of the pot beforehand, then adding noodles or quinoa to the boiling water, then tofu or eggs, and finally fresh or frozen veggies and a dash of pepper. It's easy, quick, satisfying, and a good one portion meal for one person.

However, lately I've been noticing that all of the salt in pre-made broths or soup mixes is making me feel a bit "icky" (the technical term). I've been wanting to investigate making my own broth.. but not having a huge amount of space in my freezer, which I share, means I can't just boil up a big pot and freeze it. I'm also generally not a huge fan of the pre-made broths you can get in stores.

I was quite intrigued when I saw a recipe for borscht on salon.com that didn't require broth, only water. I wasn't in fact only intrigued by that, but also the fact that it called for two potatoes to be cooked in the water, taken out and mashed, and then returned to the pot. I made it three days ago, using golden beets for the color and an entire container of fresh dill, minus the stems. I also added in celery at the end to round out the taste and also shiitake mushroom tops, because I had them lying around. Curiously, the shiitake mushrooms didn't really change the flavor, although the celery was an addition that added some robustness. It made a huge pot of soup, so I froze half of it. It tasted pretty good the first day, but awesome the second. It definitely tapped into some sort of taste memory of the soup that I ate with my grandparents when we went out to Jewish delis when I was young and not yet vegetarian. Also, it would make a great party food: the ingredients cost probably only $20 at most (cabbage is cheap) for a dish that might feed 12, and along with some crusty bread and feta cheese, it makes a satisfying winter meal.

I looked at some other recipes for doukhobor borscht on the web, and one of them called for the tomatoes to be mashed with the mashed potatos before they are added in, which I think would be nice.

My next foray into pre-made-broth-less soups was my own variant of vegetarian pho. Yes, vegetarian pho is indeed a contradiction in terms, because pho is traditionally made with beef broth, but I looked up vegetarian pho on the internet and found out there are recipes. Pho generally calls for ginger root, cinnamon, star anise, and sometimes cloves. I made a two-meal pot by sauteing the chopped up bottom of three green onions with minced ginger root and chunks of carrots and celery. I added cinnamon, cloves, fennel instead of star anise because I didn't have any star anise, half a spoonful of mild curry purchased in an Indian grocery store, black pepper, salt, and a few flakes of crushed red pepper to the saute and stirred it around a bit with the veggies. Then I added water to the pot, added six large crimini mushrooms, brought it all to a boil, and added pho noodles, beet greens, and tofu. Not quite enough flavor to the broth, and spices sank to the bottom of the bowl so the bottom felt a bit dusty with spices, but it's all a work in progress. It was still a good, hearty portion of not-salty soup. Next time, I will likely add the celery in later, because by the time it was done with all of that cooking, it tasted washed out.


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October 2013

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