Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Comfort of Soup

Life happens or can take over and it had for a few months. I have regained some of my normalcy and finally had a good weekend and I think I can credit it to being able to cook soups, dig in the garden and ride my bike.

Yesterday was a perfect day to be prepping for the week with our meals except we are pretty good plowing through them quickly. With the ease of buying broth in cans or cardboard, making soup is easy. Although, it can get costly. One has the option of bouillon cubes but they tend to have either MSG or partially-hydrogenated oils. Lately, I have fallen back on the old fashion, make my own, vegetable stock and it has turned out great.

In a 16 quart, stainless steel stock pot made in the USA, I had about 12 quarts of water, two chopped carrots, one large onion-chopped, one stalk of bok choy, four smashed garlic gloves, green part of two leeks (not the white part - I use that for stir frys and not the end, too tough) and salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil then let it simmer for hours because I had other stuff to do. I split the soup stock and made an Asian noodle soup and my mainstay mushroom barley soup.
What is great about making soups is you do not have to measure anything. I did not use a recipe for the Asian noodle soup. I sauteed about a pound of chopped bok choy (leaves and white stems) in olive oil and a little sesame oil with three garlic cloves, shittake mushrooms, and some carrots for color. I brought the stock to a boil and added the dry soba noodles. Once the noodles were al dente, I added the bok choy, stir-fry. I love a great noodle soup.
Mushroom barley is a great comfort food, too. The first time I made this soup, I followed Zingerman's Ann Arbor recipe from I am not a fan of celery or parsley so I leave those out and add about a half cup of shittake mushrooms and the liquid after rehydrating them for the soup. I pass on the flour, use butter or olive oil to saute the veggies and use a vegetable stock, too. Brad loves those dill pickles so I save those jars to keep my soups in if there is any left over.