Soups & Stews
Chicken corn soup (click here) from my childhood has inspired many reinterpretations influenced by places I have lived over the years and here is yet another inspired by my life in Thailand.
Making an early morning warming rice based porridge is a ritual found across t Asia as well as in Asian communities here in the US!
I find myself returning again and again to the Asian practice of using rice as a foundation for soups in the same way we use potatoes in the west. The advantage in using rice is that it is flavor neutral, a perfect medium for flavor, a smooth texture, and a hearty viscosity.
Taking that idea a step further, slowly simmering 1 cup unwashed Short grain rice in 2 Â½ cups stock will transform the rice into a thick translucent paste that is ideal for thickening stocks, soups, stews and sauces.Â IÂ make a batch, store it in small containers and freeze it for use on demand.
Stock is of course the flavor base for so many applications, and making a Thai stock will requires finding and including some perhaps unfamiliar ingredients such as lemongrass, ginger root, coriander roots, galangal, Thai birdâ€™s eye, chilies etc. I have found Whole foods is a good source if other options fail, but do not be be discouraged if you canâ€™t find some of these ingredients. Just improvise, keeping in mind the more assertive the flavor the better.
Thai inspired Sweet Corn Soup aka Jok
3 qourts of of strained Thai flavored stock prepaired in advance, strain, and set aside or refrigerated.
If you would like to add chicken to this poridge, poach 2 chicken breasts in advance.
Rice for thickening the soup
- r2 1/2 cups stockÂ
- 1 cup precooked short grain rice
Heat the stock in a sauce pan and add the precook rice, stir until simmering. Stir continuously until the rice has been completely broken down and translucent. Then puree using a hand held immersion blender until completely smooth and creamy, and set aside to use later.
- Preparing the Soup
21/2 quarts Thai flavored stock
- 4 fresh sweet corn on the cob, kernels cut from the cob, include cob scrapings
- 3 young celery stalks, finely diced
- 1/2 inch knob ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced and diced
- 1 or 2 small Thai red birdâ€™s ye chilies, seeds removed and finely minced
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 6 Thai basil leaves sliced lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- sea salt or soy sauce to taste
- 2 tablespoons freshly sliced chives
If you are adding chicken to this soup, use prepared poach chicken breasts.
Pour the Thai stock into a stock pot set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the cut corn and cob scrapings, celery, ginger root, and chilies and and simmer for 12 minutes. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce and bring back to a simmer.
Add some of the pureed rice mixture and stir until simmering. Adjust the consistency by string in more rice mixture sa needed.
Add he Thai basil leaves and simmer while stirring until you are ready to serve.
Taste and add salt or soy sauce to taste
If you are using poached chicken breast pull it into bite size strands and place in individual soup bowls before adding the soup.
Stir the lime juice into soup and ladle it in to individual soup bowls. scatter fresh chives over the surface and serve promptly.
This Asian rice based porridge is called either Jook or Congee depending where you might be in Asia or in Asian communities elseware. Congee is specifically identified as a Chines rice porridge from Guangdong province. Both are considered a breakfast porridge often encountered early in the morning simmering over red hot charcoal nestled in rustic clay hibachis. Jook’s aroma beckons as it wafts through the chilly morning air as the sun begins to rise.
What I am about to propose may not be quite as picturesque, but cooking J ook in an Instapot has its merits. The rice broth cooked under pressure delivers a silky soft porridge saturated with the flavor of ginger and the scent of kaffir lime in just 15 minutes. Of course you can cook this recipe on the stove top as well with about aone hour cooking time.
In either case, carry on with a quick saute of the mushrooms along with shallots and garlic that are then added to the porridge and you have a comforting bowl of Jook to begin your day!
Gingery Jook with Mushrooms
- Â 1 quirt home made chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 inch finger of fresh ginger root, peeled and divided into thirds
- 3 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
- Â½ cup jasmine rice, unwashed
Place the ingredients in the Instapot, or stock pot for stove top cooking. Lock the Instipot lid into place. Press Pressure cook., and set timer for 15 minutes.
For stove top cooking, set the pot over medium low heat with a lid on. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching, and cook at a low simmer for 50 minutes to an hour. Ideally the rice should be translucent and just barely holding its shape.
Meanwhile you can prepare the mushrooms.
- 8 white mushrooms, well cleaned, stems remove and discarded
- 8mushroom caps, thinly slicedÂ
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- pinch of sea salt
- t twist of fresh ground white pepper
- 1\4 cup white wine (Chinese cooking wine, or sake)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium low heat. Add the shallots and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and saute until they soften and begin to color. Add a little wine and continue sauteing until the e pan is nearly dry. Add the remaining wine and contuse sauteing. Season with salt and pepper and continue sauteing until the mushrooms are just starting to brown. When the skillet is nearly dry remove from the heat and set aside.
When the Instapot has finished, best to allow the pressure lower for 10 minutes and then you can carefully unlock the lid. Fish out the ginger and the kaffir lime leaves and discard.
Remove the container with the rice from the Instapot, placing it on a towel on your work surface.
For a very smooth Jook, use an immersion blender, or blender, and puree until the rice and stock are emulsified, smooth, and creamy. Otherwise you can skip the blending for a heartier texture.
transfer the sauteed mushrooms to t the Jook and stir to combine. Add the soy sauce, lemon juice and stir to combine.
Jook is traditionally served with an array of condiments and garnishes.
That said, I recommend thinly sliced spring onions, coriander (cilantro) leaves, and gomasio (recipe here) lightly sprinkled over the surface.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Jookâ€™s subtlety is its allure!
To read my original post, Dried Beans; how to cook (Basics) published April 2013 (click here)
As much as I do love the idea of a pot of aromatic dried beans bubbling away on the stove for hours on end, more efficient cooking methods are now a consideration well worth exploring. I had been using my finicky old pressure cooker as an alternative to slow cooking beans, but it was sadly lost in transit. Enter the Instapot! I admit I was reticent at first about taking a leap, but my utility bill spurred me into action. After much research I placed an order.
I have to say my Instapot is a marvel! It is a pressure cooker without all the hissing and fuss, or a lingering t thought of a steamy explosion. My very first go around with my Instapot delivered perfectly cooked dried pinto beans in just 30 minutes!
I followed my no old standby cooking methods. No pre- soak for the beans and no salt until the beans were fully cooked.
A few words about sourcing your dried beans. This is tricky business. Know your source! The age of dried beans vary widely and this does matter. Buy organically grown dried beans from a reliable vendor rather than relying on supermarket varieties that may be old and take hours rather than minutes to cook. I have been sourcing dried beans from Rancho Gordo in California for years. They offer an extensive selection of top quality dried pulses at competitive pricing, and wonderful customer service.
Cooking dried beans using an Instaapot
- 1 pound dried pinto beans, rinsed
- 6 or 7 cups water( hot water speeds up the process)
- aromatics of choice and sea salt to taste after the beans are fully cooked.
Suggested aromatics: peeled garlic clove ,Â¼ cup diced onions, a pinch of ground clove for pinto beans, and epazote (click here for info) small chipotle chile (optional)
Add the beans to the Instapot along with the aromatics and water.
Move the lid of the Instapot into the locked position.
Choose pressure cook and then choose manual high pressure.
Set timer for 25 minutes or 30 minutes for very soft beans.
The Instapot will shut off automatically.
Cancel the keep warm button and Let the Instapot cool for at least 10 minutes.
If you want to release steam manually move the valve to the venting position and release steam carefully. Or do as d I do and just let the pressure reduce naturally.
You can then salt the beans to taste.
Before serving transfer the beans to a container using a slotted spoon and pour the cooking broth into a separate container. Add just enough reserved cooking broth to just cover the beans before serving or before refrigeration.
If you prefer a richer broth simply mash some beans into a paste and stir into your beans, then warm as needed and serve.
Be sure to save any cooking broth that is left over. The broth is ideal for adding to stir-fries or when sauteing.
Keep in mind cooked dried beans have a lovely earthy flavor all their own their own. Season accordingly.
As uninteresting as a cauliflower soup may sound, here is an easy cauliflower soup that may persuade you otherwise.
With just a hint roosted roasted garlic, a dash of golden turmeric, a flurry of dried marjoram leaves, and a splash of lemon juice is what turns everything around and delivers a delightfully soothing, fresh, and warming winter cauliflower soup. The flavors are subtle but just assertive enough to win over any cauliflower skeptics at your table.
- 1 medium size head garlic, roasted
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and divided into florets
- 1 large potato, peeled and diced
- 1 Â½ teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- Â½ teaspoon ground white pepper + more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
- Â½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock, simmering
- broad leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced, or whole cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice per serving
Place the whole head of garlic in a 325 degree oven and roast just until the flesh is softened and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. When cool enough to handle separate the cloves and squeeze the garlic out of their skins and set aside.
Place a stock pot on the stove top set over medium high heat. When hot add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and sautÃ© until the onions are translucent. Add the roasted garlic, and stir to combine. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and sautÃ© for several minutes while tossing all the ingredients together. Add the turmeric, salt, white pepper, marjoram, and sugar and toss while sautÃ©ing for another 5 minutes.
Add about 1 Â½ quarts of simmering stock to completely cover all the ingredients. Adjust the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes or until all the ingredients are very soft.
Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients until the soup is thick and very smooth. Then add more stock until the soup is the consistency you prefer. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning to your liking.
When you are ready to serve the soup add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice and stir into the soup until combined
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
If you plan to serve the soup later, omit the parsley or cilantro and the lemon juice and set aside to aside to cool. Then transfer the soup to containers and cool on a rack before covering with lids and either refrigerate or freeze.
Be sure to remember to add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice just before serving the soup nonce it has been brought back to a full simmer before serving.