Vegetarian or Pescatarian Curry Laksa With Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

 Above is a Pescatarian version with grilled shrimp and eggplant that I made a month later – what a mighty fine addition indeed! Below is the vegetarian version:

So what is Laksa? Well, let me share with you on Wikipedia says:

Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup in the Peranakan cuisine, which is a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine. Laksa consists of rice noodles or rice vermicelli with chicken, prawn or fish, served in spicy soup; either based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk, or based on sour asam (tamarind or gelugur). It can be found in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Southern Thailand.

The Verdict of Vegetarian Laksa With Spiralized Zucchini Noodles:

Over a year ago, I was blessed with visiting Singapore, Malaysia for 5 weeks and had a chance to try a few Laksa soups to appreciate it from where it originated. All versions I tried had either chicken or seafood in it when I was there. I did not see any vegetarian versions. For my version below, I decided to make a vegetarian Laksa (with egg) and I really LOVED the result, taste and healthiness.

I am sold on this very authentic soup base recipe. If I closed my eyes and smelt the aroma of the soup I made, I truly felt like I was back in Asia!!

I had great fun making my version of the soup for two reasons:

  1. I had an opportunity to use my fancy spiralizr to replace rice noodles with healthy veggie zuchinni noodles. They worked very well.
  2. I attempted to make a perfectly soft-boiled egg to put in the soup and will be trying it in the future with a ramen version I am sure. It added a velvety goodness to the soup!

Laksa Paste Ingredients:

  • 4 red chilies (If you are using dried ones, you need to presoak them)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, white part only, chopped
  • 3 cm piece galangal, peeled, chopped
  • 5 cashew nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil

Laksa Paste Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a food Processor. Process until finely chopped. Add oil. Process until a smooth paste forms.

Laksa Soup Ingredients:

  •  Laksa paste (above)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 6 cups veggie stock
  • 2½ tsp brown or raw sugar
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1.5 cup cabbage, chopped
  • 1.5 cup tofu, cubed small to medium sized
  • 2½ cups bean sprouts
  • 3 cups fresh zucchini noodles, spiralized from whole zucchini
  • 1/2 pund shrimp (optional/added)
  • 1 cup diced eggplant (optional/added)

Garnish/Fixings Ingredients:

  • 2 soft boiled eggs (7 minute egg: boil water, softly immerse 2 cold eggs in boiling water, simmer water for exactly 7 minutes, immerse eggs in cold ice water bath, peel and slice the egg just right before placed in the bowls for serving)
  • Fried shallots (in peanut oil)
  • Fresh Thai Basil
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Lime wedges in quarters

Laksa Soup Instructions:

  • Optional: grill shrimp until almost cooked pink/white. Put aside on plate.
  • Heat peanut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add Laksa paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add stock and sugar. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer.
  • Add carrots, cabbage, and eggplant return to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Separately, in a frying pan, sauté the zucchini noodles for 1-2 minutes, making sure not to make them to soft and mushy. Divide these noodles among bowls for serving.
  • Add coconut milk, tofu and beansprouts. Stir gently to combine, then bring almost to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes or until beansprouts are wilted and tofu are heated through.
  • Ladle Laksa soup among bowls. Drop in a few grilled shrimps (optional), scatter over fried shallots, basil leaves, Sriricha sauce, and lime wedges.

Original Soup Recipe: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/malay-curry-laksa-laksa-lemak

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Added cabbage
  • Added carrots
  • Added soft boiled eggs
  • Omitted prawns, chicken and fish balls
  • Replaced chicken stock with vegetarian stock
  • Replaced thin rice noodles with zucchini noodles
  • Replaced tofu puffs with sprouted organic tofu
  • Replaced mint with basil for garnish

Soup Mistress Rating For Vegetarian Laksa With Spiralized Zucchini Noodles:
Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5) 
Presentation: (4/5 )
Taste: (4.5/5) 

White Russian Borscht at Andy’s Bakery on Commercial Drive – A Soup Review

White Russian Borscht

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White Russian Borscht at Andy's Bakery

Just yesterday, I was in Vancouver’s Commercial Drive area and I decided to go for lunch at Andy’s Bakery (935 Commercial Drive). My girlfriend Karen Winter (a soup-a-holic like myself) highly recommended that I checked out Andy’s for its Split Pea Soup and I’ve been meaning to do so for quite some time.  But when I first arrived, I was disappointed that the Split Pea Soup was not available – it was on the menu yesterday.  Awe shucks!

I thought to myself that I will have to come back to Andy’s for the Split Pea Soup another day. But one second later, the White Russian Borscht Soup stopped me from exiting the bakery. Hmnn, I never heard of White Russian Borscht. So, why not stay and have some?

Since I am very familiar of and a big fan of Ukrainian Borscht (I grew up in the north end of Winnipeg which was highly populated with Ukrainian delis and perogi houses), I was curious to find out what was the difference between Ukrainian Borscht and White Russian Borscht.

So a large cup it was!

I did like the taste of the White Russian Borscht soup. The soup had some fine tasting stock base with cabbage and seemed to be seasoned quite well with dill (although, I can tell it was dried dill and not fresh dill). The soup was light and not too heavy. I think potatoes were used to give it an additional creamy texture and not cream per se. The soup did not seem to have red beets but carrots may have given it an orange tint. I am guessing that no beets were used and turnips were used instead – hence the “White Borscht” label. I could only guess the other ingredients because the lady at the counter could not tell me what the ingredients were what-so-ever. Personally, I find it very odd that she did not know the ingredients. Employees should know when customers ask the question, no? Maybe the soup was a pre-made soup or prepared offsite? But still, there should be no excuse on not knowing the ingredients so that you can tell your customers.

So what are the differences between Ukrainian Borscht and White Russian Borscht?

I did a bit of online research and here is what I have found:

  • Ukranian Borscht: Is typically made with beetroot as main ingredient.  Other country recipes have tomatoes and then beetroot as main ingredients.
  • Russian Borscht: It seems as though there are many versions of Russian Borscht with beets, but no White Russian Borscht documented on forums or Wikipedia from a history stand point.
  • Polish Borscht: There is talk of a White Polish Borscht (aka zurek) which typically has dark rye flour, hard boiled eggs, smoked kielbasa and horseradish. That is NOT what I had yesterday.

But wait…..I did find one recipe that refers to White Russian Borscht that can be close to what I had yesterday. I am guessing that this version of borscht is newly created and not something handed down from our grandparents time. Chef Andrea Reusing’s White Borscht With Turnips, Savoy Cabbage and Horseradish recipe looks close to what I may have had yesterday and she does refer to it as “White Russian Borscht” in the article.

Have your heard of White Russian Borscht? If you personally know what it is or have made it in the past, please feel free to comment on this post!

The verdict of Andy’s Bakery White Russian Borscht Soup? Overall, I do recommend this soup if you are ever in the Commercial Drive area and in a rush. It did taste very good and won’t break the bank for $4.20 with a roll.  Don’t expect fine dinning or ambiance though, the eating area is basically a counter at the window – which was just fine for myself yesterday.

This soup is a contender to recreate at home in the future with some very minor tweaks. I would try to follow Andrea Reusing’s recipe (link above):

  • add fresh dill and lot’s of it. Andy’s soup had dried dill – it is easy to notice that.
  • use a splash of white wine to give the soup a little acidity and to elevate the taste.
  • use a dollop of sour cream on the top as garnish with a fresh sprig of dill.
  • use smoke bacon or kelbasa.
  • dice potatoes and turnip in a consistent manner and not let them get to mushy before serving.
  • used low sodium vegetable stock, especially if I use bacon.
  • serve it in a pretty white glass bowl.

Soup Mistress Rating for White Russian Borscht at Andy’s Bakery:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (2.5/5) 
Taste: (3.5/5) 

Red Cabbage and Apple Soup – A Recipe Makeover

Red Cabbage and Apple Soup

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Completed Red Cabbage and Apple Soup

If you are into sweet and sour soups, then this soup is for you. The apple cider vinegar adds a bite to it, so beware if you are not into that. This soup can be made a day before serving and refrigerated. I personally like this soup, but find it much more tastier the next day.

I have plans to redo many soups in the future and I will be:

  • cutting calories and trimming fat from some favorite recipes
  • adjusting so they are vegetarian, gluten-free as well as vegan – where I can
  • adjusting dried herbs for fresh herbs
  • adjusting processed foods for natural and/or organic – where I can
  • adjusting highly acidic forming recipes to be more alkaline forming (healthier for you)

This soup makeover is:

  • vegetarian
  • vegan (exclude the goat yogurt from recipe or use a soy-based alternative)
  • gluten-free

Red Cabbage and Apple Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 7 cups thinly sliced cored red cabbage (about 1 med head)
  • 1-1/2 cup large onion, chopped
  • 8 large fresh thyme sprigs
  • 5 cups low-salt vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 large apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of plain goat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Cooking Instructions:

Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add cabbage and onion; sauté until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add 8 thyme sprigs and sauté 1 minute longer. Add broth, water, apple cider vinegar, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon stick, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

In a separate heavy large skillet heat 1 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and sauté until brown and tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Add apples to soup pot, season with dash of salt and pepper, simmer for 10 minutes longer.

Remove thyme sprigs, cloves and cinnamon stick from soup.

Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with a large scoop of plain goat yogurt and chopped fresh thyme.

Enjoy!

Original Recipe that I tried and adjusted: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cabbage-Soup-with-Apples-and-Thyme-107249

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced butter with olive oil
  • replaced green cabbage with red cabbage
  • added cloves
  • added cinnamon stick
  • added nutmeg
  • replaced chicken broth with vegetable broth
  • added apple cider vinegar
  • added water
  • added plain goat yogurt

Soup Mistress Rating for Red Cabbage and Apple Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4/5)