Winter Soup Olympics in Whistler A Gold Delight!

One more day till the end of our 2 month stay up at Whistler. It’s been a great journey with downhill and cross-country skiing, biking, and walking around trails in British Columbia’s winter wonderland. With all of the outdoor exercise came a few apres ski sessions, fresh track morning buffets, some mighty fine cooking sessions at home and visiting various restaurants in the main village and creekside.  For many meals I had soup, and there were a few to be mentioned and one a sure winner that was a gold delight!

The following are three notable soups and I ranked them as Gold, Silver and Bronze for overall taste and presentation:

Gold Soup Medal

The Gold Soup Medal goes to Alta Bistro’s with their Rootdown Farms Organic Carrot Soup ($10) with roasted chickpeas, fried celery, goat cheese & orange cream, black cumin seeds, fresh thyme, corn bread. What a playful looking soup and great presentation. The orange cream gave this soup a tiny burst of greatness. The fresh thyme was delightful and the bowl seemed to be a great choice for serving soup – it seemed to conduct heat for quite sometime after I was served it! Brilliant!

Silver Soup Medal

The Silver Soup Medal goes to Nita Lakes’ Lodge Aura Restaurant Mussel Chowder ($10) with honey mussels, diced house cured pancetta, Yukon gold potato, onion, ginger, lemongrass bisque. Wow! The service overall at this restaurant was very outstanding. The waitress brought the bowl of morsels to our table and poured in the broth – that was so classy and a nice experience indeed – love when restaurants do that with soups! The large pieces of potato were perfect and gave it a rustic feel. The lemongrass bisque was light but very tasty! And oh my, the honey mussels were good, I wish I had more though, but for $10 this soup really rocked!

Bronze Soup Medal

The Bronze Medal goes the Roundhouse up on Whistler Mountain with their Mushroom Soup. The roundhouse is a huge cafeteria style restaurant and probably serves a few thousand people for lunch between 11 – 2pm easily. We had this mushroom soup a few times in the last two months. I also heard a few other people mention that this soup is one of their favourites as well! The tiny chunks of mushrooms and onions we so very good (really made the soup) and kudos to a cafe style restaurant to use pea shoots as a garnish. If you are ever up there, go for the soup, salad and half sandwich – it’s the best deal in the house! I think it was $12.45 for the combo.

I can’t wait to come back and try more soups next season! Whistler is the premium place for Soup Olympics I am sure!

Vegetable Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos at Chicago’s XOCO is all xoxo’s!

Just this weekend I ventured to Chicago for a layover on my way to Winnipeg to visit my family. I’ve been in Las Vegas for the last 3 months with beautiful warm sunny weather and holy moly my body was in shock when I got outside in Chicago!!! it was windy and very wintery freeze your butt off weather. Everyone on the streets were bundled up in big bulky jackets, hats, scarfs and gloves. I had a tiny leather jacket and leather gloves…not good enough for my walk to check out XOCO for some mexican fare.

By the time I got to the restaurant, I changed my mind of trying one of their famous Tortas. The Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos (AKA soup) fancied me way more – I really needed some hot broth to thaw out my insides and extremities!

I ordered the Vegetable Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos and it had: black beans, woodland mushrooms, zucchini, potato-masa dumplings, greens, avocados, and serrano chile.

The Verdict of XOCO’s Vegetable Meal-in-a-Bowl:
I felt the love big time with this this Meal-in-a-Bowl (AKA soup)…. it should be called xoxo Soup! My tummy had a genuine almost cuddling-like affair with this soup and was very grateful to the warm tasty broth! The big chunks of avocados, lots of onions, tasty mushrooms, deep flavourful broth and black beans that weren’t mushy made up this delightful meal-in-a-bowl. The broth was unique and not like all other Mexican soup broths, I couldn’t pinpoint what all of the spices were.  And the healthy greens were nice and fresh added on top. XOCO’s soup puts the tortilla mexican soup I had two days ago at El Segundo’s in Vegas to shame.

XOCO had a superb ordering process and great customer service experience. A sweetie of a gal who gave me a seat number, asked me when seated  if I’d like sparkling or still water. The sparling water was for free – a nice touch for so-called street food in a restaurant that did not break the bank!

Here’s a spoonful of all the scrumptious chunks of love and lot’s of onions oh my!

If you are going to check out XOCO’s Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos make sure you also order the Roasted Garlic Tomotilo Guacamole with choice of 2 toppings, tomatillo salsa, 3 chile salsa and just-made chips. I had the queso fresco and grilled onion!
Soup Mistress Rating for XOXO’s Vegetable Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos:

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

Taste: (4.5/5) 

San Francisco and Napa Valley – A Souper Duper Culinary Crawl

For the last week and half I have been in San Francisco, Napa Valley and then to San Mateo for work. It has been a wonderful culinary experience and a souper duper time. And especially so, because I had a partner in crime who likes food close to or a tad more than I! For probably half of our meals, if a soup fancied me on the menu, I just had to try!

Below is a list of soups I tried during the past week and half. I ranked them from the highest in taste. I definitely have no major complaint about any of the soups. The choices of restaurants were fine choices indeed in the first place, so no run ins with dud soups what-so-ever.

  1. French Onion Soup (Bouchon Cafe)
  2. Spring Suppa (A16)
  3. Asparagus Soup (Auberge Du Soliel)
  4. Beer Crab Soup (Kingfish Restaurant)
  5. Panna Cotta Chilled Carrot Soup (French Laundry)
  6. Tofu Soon Dobu (Sesame Korean Cuisine)
  7. Tom Yum Pak (Lemongrass Thai Cuisine)
  8. Wild Mushroom, Farro and Thyme Soup (Foreign Cinema)
  9. Potato Leek Soup (Cindys Kitchen)

Rank #1: Bouchon Bistro: Soupe a L’Oignon

A perfect afternoon in Napa Valley first started with a quick stop at Bouchon Bakery for a coffee and Monkey Bun and then over to Gotts for a lighter lunch. Shortly after sitting outside at a picnic table eating some mighty fine tacos from Gotts, we headed for a superb tour at a winery. After our wine tour we found ourselves back in Yountville at Bouchon but instead at the Cafe for second light afternoon snack!

We had the Soupe a L’Oignon (French Onion Soup) and Moules au Safran (Mussels) with French Fries with some nice white wine (can’t remember what wine exactly, but I’m pretty sure it was a local one).

Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA, 94599
http://bouchonbistro.com

The Verdict of Bouchon Cafe Soupe a L’Oignon?

The onions were probably one of the best carmelized onions I had in an French Onion Soup. I asked the bartender if there were any special secrets to the soup. He said that the onions were first dredged in flour then caramelized slowly with red wine. I’m betting that they used some mighty fine red wine to caramelized these sweet babies in.

The soup had a lot of onions, and the bread in the soup kept it’s texture and not to mushy unlike some french onions soup may be guilty of.

The Gruyere cheese was the super star of the dish, I do wish that they used way more of it and had it oozing over the side of the bowl so that I could have peeled the crispy browned cheese off. I was sharing the soup – I do believe that my culinary partner in crime ate more cheese than me when I wasn’t looking! Doh!

Soup Mistress Rating for Bouchon Cafe Soupe a L’Oignon:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (2.5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Rank #2: A16: Spring Zuppa

A16
2355 Chestnut Ave, San Francisco, California
http://www.a16sf.com

The Verdict of A16 Spring Zuppa?

The soup was not your stuffy high end soup with heavy cream. It had a wonderful tasty and delicate broth. Actually probably one of the top broths I’ve had. It had very thinly sliced asparagus morsels and oh so fine crispy fried croutons. The herbs seemed very fresh, and they definitely used some fresh English Peas – oh my, I liked how they popped in my mouth! The soup seemed simple yet very elegant and oh so tasteful. It seemed as though the soup is an au natural for your tastebuds. No need to glamourize and heavy it up with fat and cream! I am guessing that the broth was a vegetable base – the roasted spring onion oil gave a really good depth to the broth that a meat based broth may have done. Brilliant. Overall, my tastebuds felt very satisfied with A16s Spring Zuppa and my hips didn’t feel guilty what-so-ever.

Soup Mistress Rating for A16 Spring Zuppa:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Rank #3: Auberge Du Soliel: Asparagus Soup

Auberge Du Soliel
180 Rutherford Hill Road
Rutherford, California
http://www.aubergedusoleil.com

The Verdict of Auberge Du Soliel Asparagus Soup?

The soup was wonderful and the swirls of oil and cream were a very fine touch to the eye as for taste. Seasoned just right and no complaints. I do wish that there were a tad more morsels of asparagus in the soup.

Ok, I must confess. I didn’t take much notes of this soup nor did I pay attention to the exact  ingredients. Perhaps my culinary dropout mishap was because I went on a wine tour prior and my attention to detail was impaired due to alcohol and the breath taking view sitting on the deck looking down at the hills and vines. Best view ever of our trip dining for sure!

All I remember is that I really loved this soup (and it deserves this rating) and the grilled artichokes were awesome!

Soup Mistress Rating for Auberge Du Soliel Asparagus Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4/5) 

Rank #4: Kingfish Restaurant: Crab and Beer Soup

Kingfish Restaurant
201 South B Street, San Mateo, CA, 94401
http://www.kingfish.net

The Verdict of Kingfish Restaurant Crab and Beer Soup:

For my first spoonful, I thought this soup was very strong and had too much of a bold taste. Thinking that it was the beer itself in the recipe that made it so. But after my second and third spoonful, it really grew on me. I loved how it also was bitter yet spicy. I think when my soup came to life is when my chardonnay arrived to join the party. Somehow the wine tamed the bold taste and the really complimented it a ton. The soup had wonderful crab pieces and even some whole claws. Yum! I would order it again.

I loved the little drops of oil in the soup, I do wish that the soup had a dollop of creme fraiche and that they used chives instead of green onions though!

Soup Mistress Rating for Kingfish Restaurant Crab and Beer Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5) 

Rank #5: French Laundry: Panna Cotta Chilled Carrot Soup

The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, California
http://www.frenchlaundry.com

The Verdict of French Laundry Panna Cotta Chilled Carrot Soup:

This is one of the many dishes we were treated to above and beyond the tasting menu at the French Laundry last week. My culinary partner in crime seemed to have a good connection with Thomas Keller indeed. I felt like royalty and oh so lucky!!

Wonderful eye candy – the best of my soups for presentation by far for the week! It’s where culinary presentation meets performance art! Loved how we first got a peek of the Panna Cotta in the bottom and then experienced the server pouring the chilled soup over top. This beautiful tiny serving looked so delicate yet had the flavour of many garden fresh carrots! The soup was so velvety good and had just the right amount of sweetness and I think it had a tiny dash of curry. I loved digging down and getting the Panna Cotta with a pop of fine herbs (I think there were some finely chopped chives).

This is one chilled soup I would love to recreate at home – and yes, even making my own Panna Cotta may be in store! Thomas Keller’s establishment is top notch indeed, no wonder it can take months to get a reservation there! Check out their kitchen below – a sparkling perfection!!

Soup Mistress Rating for French Laundry Panna Cotta Chilled Carrot Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (5/5) 
Taste: (4/5) 

Rank #6: Sesame Korean Cuisine: Tofu Soon Dobu

Sesame Korean Cuisine
1355 Broadway
Burlingame, CA 94010

 

The Verdict of Tofu Soon Dobu :

This is the first of a Korean Tofu soup I ever tried. A very good friend of mine introduced me to this kind of cuisine. We were first served the small dishes, which is also known as Banchan. Then shortly after our bubbling hot soups arrived in little clay pots, the server walked away and we kept talking for a few minutes. Just as I was ready to dig into my yummy looking soup the owner came up and explained that the new server messed up and she needed to make the pots all bubbly again for us. And poof! they were taken away just as I was salivating at the smell of the broth!

Doh! What? Why?…. The new server forgot to crack in an egg in each of our bowls!

It was well worth the extra minutes of wait because when the owner came back, she had two eggs in her pocket with our bubbling soups and cracked the eggs in right away. Nice touch!

I stirred in my egg and watched it cook then dug in!

OMG, who needs meat and seafood?! This soup was very good with tofu and I loved how eating the Banchan between spoonfuls made a great marriage. I especially loved the pickled components because they brought out the soup broth even more.

I’m now going to keep a look out for this sort of soup back in Vancouver. Surprised that I never experienced before.

Soup Mistress Rating for Tofu Soon Dobu :

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (3.75/5) 

Rank #7: Lemongrass Thai Cuisine: Tom Yum Pak

Lemongrass Thai Cuisine
2348 Polk Street, San Francisco, California
http://www.lemongrasssf.com

The Verdict of Lemongrass Thai Cuisine Tom Yum Pak?

We didn’t scope out this place before hand, but just stumbled across it after walking up and down very steep hills in the Russian Hill area of San Francisco.

Two thumbs up for this soup. The broth was sweet and tangy just like any Tom Yum broth should. But the choice of the veggies and the way better than average broth made this stop so very delightful and unexpected!

Soup Mistress Rating for Lemongrass Thai Cuisine Tom Yum Pak:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (3.75/5) 

Rank #8: Foreign Cinema: Wild Mushroom, Farro and Thyme Soup

Foreign Cinema
2534 Mission Street, San Francisco CA 94110
http://www.foreigncinema.com

The Verdict of Foreign Cinema Wild Mushroom, Farro and Thyme Soup?

Foreign Cinema is a very neat restaurant nestled in a yet to be gentrified neighbourhood. When we first got out of the cab, I thought we were taken to the wrong place. But once we entered, the entrance was quite elegant with a red carpet and then we entered a large bustling place!

We decided to have the Wild Mushroom Farro and Thyme Soup for one of our appies. It was a good soup, but I was puzzled about the absence of mushrooms. There was no hint of mushrooms per se, but I am guessing it was a part of the broth perhaps? Loved the Farro and the broth was very tasty and seemed light and healthy (good in my books btw). The use of the thin crusty bread was elegant and it kept its crispiness quiet good. Kudos to the kitchen to split the one order up in two bowls. That was very nice of them!

The use of fresh thyme made the soup and I think another green herb (larger than thyme) was used, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was.

Soup Mistress Rating for Foreign Cinema Wild Mushroom, Farro and Thyme Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (3.5/5) 

Rank #9: Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen: Potato Leek Soup

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen
1327 Railroad Avenue, St Helena, CA
http://www.cindysbackstreetkitchen.com

The Verdict of Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen: Potato Leek Soup?

This soup was good tasting, but seemed plain jane to me when comparing to the rest of soups above. Not really any wows from myself. Nothing outstanding stood out for me. It most likely had cream, butter and the use of chives is expected.

One dish that did blow the soup away that is notable from Cindy’s was a wonderful Rabbit Tostada with red chile salsa, black beans and feta. I felt really naughty since my diet is usually 90% vegetarian with some sort of bacon.

Soup Mistress Rating for Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen: Potato Leek Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (3.5/5) 

Mushroom Leek Soup – A Vegetable World Meat Delight!

mushroom-leek-soup-0

Picture 1 of 5

The completed Mushroom Leek soup!

A week ago, I went to a great Asian grocery store called TNT Supermarket that I haven’t been to in quite sometime. This place has a ton of various foods that you normally don’t find at regular supermarkets. I entered the supermarket without a plan of what to buy, but was drawn to the variety of mushrooms and how cheap they were.

So mushroom leek soup is was!

For this soup, I did not follow a recipe. I threw together my favorite base ingredients that I normally use in soups (e.g. vegetable stock, garlic, ginger). I also love leeks with mushrooms in any dish – so they joined the party as well. And having used enoki mushrooms in the past, their texture is almost like noodles to me and I thought they would be perfect in soup that was noodle-less.

The Verdict of Mushroom Leek Soup?

This soup is very fresh tasting and meaty with a ton of mushrooms – a vegetable world meat delight! I do love how the sesame oil added asian flare to my taste buds and it played very well with the ginger.  I had the soup for dinner and for lunch two days in a row  – and I would have had it another day but I was leaving for San Diego the next morning.

Mushroom Leek Soup Ingredients:

  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ginger, minced
  • 3 packages enoki mushrooms , ends trimmed off
  • 4 king oyster mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 package brown shimeji mushrooms, broken apart
  • 1 package white shimeji mushrooms, broken apart
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 2 green onions, chopped finely

Mushroom Leek Soup Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a gentle boil and then keep it on simmer.
  2. In a pan add olive oil and sauté the leeks, ginger and garlic about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add in the mushrooms and bell pepper and sauté for another 5-8 minutes.
  4. Add mushroom, peppers, and sesame oil to the soup base.
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Ladle soup in bowls.
  7. Garnish with green onions.
  8. Season with salt and pepper – adjust to your liking.
Soup Mistress Rating For Mushroom Leek Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (3.5/5)

Soup Spark is Lit! Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Soup with Quinoa

Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Soup with Quinoa

Picture 1 of 12

The completed Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Soup with Quinoa

Yikes! This is my first blog post since May! Somehow my passion for playing golf and training for my first half marathon ate up all my time over the last few months.  But heck, it’s never too late to start back at er! It is fall here now and somehow my soup spark has been lit again!

Every once in a while when I receive Costco’s bi-monthly magazine I flip through the pages just to read the recipes. For this September/October issue, I found this great looking soup recipe that had quinoa in it.  I have had a bag of quinoa for quiet sometime and been meaning to make a quinoa salad or something, but never looked into any recipes to date. I have not thought of using it in soup.  But soup it is today!

The Verdict of Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Soup with Quinoa?

The original soup recipe was good, but with some fine-tuning, I transformed it into a splendid soup for myself!  Somehow it seemed a tad bland so I added more pepper and freshly squeezed lime juice, which seemed to have lifted it up quite nice! Also goat yogurt is highly recommended or even give Greek yogurt a try – they both will give the soup a nice creamy taste! Just make sure you swirl it around in your soup before digging in!

Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Soup with Quinoa Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 pound sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 5 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/8 cup of fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup goat yogurt

Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Soup with Quinoa Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Cut top of garlic bulb off, place on tin foil enough to cover the whole bulb, sprinkle olive oil, wrap and bake in oven for about 30 minutes. Cool then spoon out garlic.
  2. Heat oil in large saucepan or pot over medium heat.  Cook onion for about 8 minutes, then add in mushrooms and cook for 7 more minutes until mushrooms are softened.
  3. Remove 2 cups of the mushroom/onion mixture and put aside till later.
  4. Add in stock, water, quinoa, roasted garlic, thyme, salt, pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for approx 15 minutes until the quinoa is tender.
  5. Puree soup with hand blender (or in blender and return back to pot).
  6. Stir in reserved mushroom/onion mixture. Cook gently until evenly heated through and stir in lime juice and spinach.
  7. Ladle into bowls
  8. Garnish with a dollop of goat yogurt and grated parmesan.

Original soup recipe from:  Costco Connection, September/October 2012 edition, reprinted from: Quinoa Revolution: Over 150 Healthy Great Tasting Recipes Under 500 Calories by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming.

What I changed from original soup recipe:

  • Used olive oil instead of vegetable oil
  • Doubled the mushrooms and used shitake as well as cremini
  • Used 5 cups of stock versus 4 cups
  • Added lime juice
  • Added goat yogurt
  • Used more pepper

Soup Mistress Rating for Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Soup with Quinoa:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Shiitake and Button Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup

Picture 1 of 9

The Completed Shiitake and Button Mushroom Barley Soup

Barley – I have never used it in a soup, and this is my first. My doctor has been reminding me to work on lowering my cholesterol. I do like the fact that according to the FDA, barley’s soluble fiber reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and can lower cholesterol.

The Verdict of Shiitake and Button Mushroom Barley Soup? This is a filling and great tasting vegetarian soup. The original recipe called for button mushrooms only. I like adding in shiitake mushrooms anywhere a recipe calls for buttons mushrooms, they give a different dimension of meatiness. The soup has a richer taste the next day and gets thicker, I added extra broth. I try to avoid gluten in my soups most of the time but this soup is an exception as I like the taste of barley. If you area true celiac, this soup is not for you because barley has gluten if you didn’t know that.

Shiitake and Button Mushroom Barley Soup Ingredients:

  • 7 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 – 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic clove, minced or chopped very fine
  • 1 cup baby carrots, thinly sliced
  • 16oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Shiitake and Button Mushroom Barley Soup Instructions:

  1. Add 2 cups of broth to a large saucepan/pot. Bring to a boil and add the pearl barley, cover then simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. In a separate saucepan, add olive oil and saute onions over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, carrot, mushrooms to onions and saute for another 6 minutes.
  4. Combine mushroom and rest of broth into saucepan with barley/broth.
  5. Add pepper and salt to taste.
  6. Bring back up to a boil and simmer on low for about 30-35 minutes with lid partially covered.
  7. Stir in parsley and thyme (keeping some for garnish).
  8. Ladle soup into warmed bowls.
  9. Add parsley and thyme as garnish.
  10. Enjoy!

Original Recipe: Book: Soup Bowl, An Inspiring Collection of Soups, Broths and Chowders – Mushroom Barley Soup (page 64)

What I changed from original recipe:

  • used thyme instead of tarragon
  • used more mushrooms and broth
  • added shiitake mushroom and garlic
  • used olive oil instead of butter
  • omitted bay leaf

Soup Mistress Rating for Shiitake and Button Mushroom Barley Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5)
Presentation: (3.75/5) 
Taste: (4.25/5) 

Playing Russian Roulette With Asian-Style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup

Asian-style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup

Picture 1 of 9

The completed Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup with pea shoots

Just the other day, I decided to play recipe russian roulette and have some fun.

Being quite adventurous, I grabbed one of my many soup cookbooks and with my eyes closed shut I opened to a random soup recipe page. I decided that the page I landed on would be my next soup I was to cook up.

And Asian-Style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup is was!

I enjoyed making and eating this soup. I did make a few adjustments though from the original recipe. It originally called for some canned straw mushrooms and I did not want any part of that soup desecration. I am very lucky to have many options of mushrooms in the lower mainland, so I substituted the canned straw mushrooms for fresh enoki and shiitake mushrooms. Yum.

The Verdict of Asian-Style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup? I adjusted the recipe and brought back my superstar ingredient that I used in my Spicy Oyster Chowder, which was the thai red chile. That little chile is so powerful and adds the perfect amount of heat to any soup – it played very well with the sesame oil and fish sauce. I swear I am going to keep red thai chiles around in my kitchen as a staple from now on. This soup also had a nice texture with the enoki mushrooms (one of my favorites) and the shiitake mushrooms had a delicate yet meaty flavor. The soup the next day had a more intense flavor indeed. I was a tad surprised that the original recipe called for cinnamon and cloves though, but they also worked very well in the soup.

I would make this soup in the future and would not change a thing from how I adjusted and made it myself.

Asian-style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh gingerroot, finely chopped
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 small red thai chile, finely chopped
  • 3 cups rotisserie chicken (1 small chicken), shredded
  • 5 large shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 package enoki mushrooms (cut off and discard the roots)
  • 4 oz(125g) uncooked thin rice noodles
  • 1 bunch (6oz) pea shoots
  • pepper

Asian-style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup Instructions:

  1. Add oil to large saucepan/pot. Saute onion for 2-3 minutes on med/high heat until soft.
  2. Add stock, fish sauce, sesame oil, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and red thai chile.
  3. Bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat, simmer for 25-35 minutes.
  4. Remove star anise, cinnamon and cloves from pan, and discard.
  5. Add chicken and mushrooms to soup; simmer an additional 3-5 minutes or until chicken is hot.
  6. While soup is simmering (in step 3 above), bring 2 liters of water to boil, add noodles and remove from heat. Let stand 2-4 minutes or until softened. Drain in colander.
  7. Divide noodles among serving bowls.
  8. Ladle soup on top of noodles in each bowl.
  9. Top with pea shoots and season with pepper.

The Original Recipe: All New Soups, Stews and Chili’s, A pamphlet book by the Pampered Chef (Page 21).

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced vegetable oil with olive oil
  • replaced watercress with pea shoots
  • add red thai chile
  • added 1 tsp sesame oil
  • replaced canned straw mushrooms with fresh shitake and enoki mushrooms
  • didn’t bother with using a sachet for cinnamon, star anise, ginger and cloves.
  • left ginger finely chopped in the soup (original recipe instructed to have it in sachet and discard it after the simmer).

Soup Mistress Rating for Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (5/5) 

Thai Coconut Vegetarian Soup With Mock Noodles

Thai Coconut Vegetarian Soup

Picture 1 of 8

Thai Coconut Vegetarian Soup With Mock Noodles

My brothers girlfriend (Leslie) sent me a wonderful Thai Coconut Chicken Rice Soup recipe that I decided to make this week with some modifications. I wanted to take her recipe and make it into a vegetarian soup similar to Happy Planets Thai Coconut Soup that I tried a few weeks back.

I added a fair bit of veggies to replace the chicken and rice.  Note: this is a large batch of soup to have as left overs or even freeze. My decision to omit rice is because I find rice gets too mushy the next day or when freezing. I decided to use bamboo shoots as a substitute for rice – they were some mighty fine mock noodles I must say! Happy Planets Thai Soup gave me the ideal of adding bamboo shoots.

The Verdict of Thai Coconut Vegetarian Soup? I think this soup should not be made without the red chile thai and lime juice. They both work together very well. The red thai gives it a superb heat (may be a tad too hot for some folks though) and the lime juice gives it a great acidic freshness. I love the bamboo shoots as a substitute for rice or noodles, they were almost noodle-like and thicker pieces than what Happy Planets soup had. This is also one soup that get’s better the next day – I had it 3 days in row for lunch and froze the rest for a later date.

Thai Coconut Vegetarian Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrot, julienned
  • 10 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red thai chile, finely chopped
  • 1 cup bamboo shoots, julienned
  • 1 can of baby corn, cut in thirds (if whole in can)
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, halved or quartered and bruised
  • 7 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 can light unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2  cup fresh baby spinach
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lime rind
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • 4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Thai Coconut Vegetarian Soup Instructions:

  1. Saute onions, garlic, and ginger for 3 minutes.
  2. Add mushrooms, carrot, celery, red pepper, red thai chile, sauté for 3 more minutes.
  3. Add red curry paste, baby corn, bamboo shoots, lemongrass, vegetable broth, coconut milk. Bring to boil and turn down to simmer until vegetables are tender.
  4. Add baby spinach and cook until wilted.
  5. Add lime rind, lime juice, ground pepper.
  6. Ladle in bowls and garnish with cilantro and more pepper (if desired).

What I changed from the original recipe:

  • omitted chicken, rice, white sugar, snap peas
  • added 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • added lemon grass, bamboo shoots, red thai chile, baby corn, red curry paste, garlic
  • used low sodium vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
  • increased cilantro to 4 tablespoons

Soup Mistress Rating for Thai Coconut Vegetarian Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Chestnut Mushroom Soup – A Perfect Soup For Christmas Dinner Starter

Chestnut Mushroom Soup

Picture 1 of 12

The completed Chestnut Mushroom Soup with chopped chestnuts, thick slice of bacon and thyme as garnish.

For the last two months, I’ve been meaning to try a chestnut soup since they are in season. I have searched high and low and there are so many chestnut soup recipes floating around on the internet. It seems like a very popular soup especially in the US for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.

A recipe that interested me the most was with chestnuts and mushrooms on Oprahs website. I modified it a tad though.

I also saw alot of tweets talking about chestnut brussel sprout soup – I may have to try that in near future as well.

The verdict? This chestnut mushroom soup was very tasty, rich, smooth and hearty. I would almost serve a little bowl or cuppacino cup (vs a mid-sized bowl) to guests. It is a perfect soup for an appetizer for Christmas dinner!

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (2-ounce) chunk pancetta
  • 1 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery root, chopped
  • 5 cups button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup gourmet dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, yellow boletes, oyster)
  • 1 1/2 pounds (4 cups) dry-packed chestnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cognac
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 7 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • dash of pepper and salt to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes (while prepping everything else), then drain and chop.
  2. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, shallots, and celery root; cook 5 minutes, or until shallots are softened. Scrape out of pan and set aside.
  3. In same pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms (button and dried mix) and chestnuts (reserve a few for garnish); cook 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Add cognac with pancetta-shallot mixture.
  4. Tie together bay leaf, sage, and thyme; add to mushroom mixture, along with chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove pancetta and herb bundle from soup; discard herbs. Cut up and brown the pancetta to use as a garnish (optional).
  6. Working in batches, transfer soup to blender or food processor; puree until smooth. Be careful with the hot liquids.
  7. Return soup to saucepan over low heat. Stir in half-and-half and cook just until heated through (do not boil). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls and top with reserved chopped chestnuts,  thyme and piece of fried pancetta. Serve immediately.

Original Recipe:: http://www.oprah.com/food/Chestnut-Soup#ixzz1gwBBHONm

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced butter with olive oil
  • added gourmet dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, yellow boletes, oyster)
  • used low sodium chicken stock
  • used 1/3 cup more of celery root
  • used 1/3 cup more of shallots

Soup Mistress Rating for Chestnut Mushroom Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Six Mushroom Soup – A Meatless Meaty Soup

Six mushroom soup

Picture 1 of 10

The completed six mushroom soup.

The other day I picked up a large tray of chanterelle mushrooms at Costco for a great deal. I first thought of sauteing them for dinner just by themselves, but decided to make my very first wild mushroom soup.

I found a decent looking wild mushroom soup recipe on Epicurious (link below) and decided to use it as my base but with a few tweaks.

The verdict? This one is a great meatless meaty soup! I would make it again, but with a few minor tweaks. I found that it was a tad too thick, so I would omit the soya flour next time.

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
  • gluten-free

Six Mushroom Soup Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 cups button mushrooms, chopped
  • 5 cups chanterelle mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups gourmet dried mixed mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, yellow boletes, oyster)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons gran marnier
  • 2 tablespoons soya flour
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 1/2  cup goat yogurt

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Soak dried mushrooms in water for 15 minutes (while prepping everything else), then drain (reserving liquid) and chop.
  2. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add all mushrooms (fresh and dried) and thyme, saute until mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add in gran marnier, stir 30 seconds, then mix flour in.
  5. Slowly stir in vegetable broth and reserved juice from dried mushroom soak, bring soup to boil. Season with dash salt and pepper. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered 15 minutes.
  6. Puree soup (keeping 2 cups of mushrooms aside for garnish)
  7. Return soup to pot, and gently heat through.
  8. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls and top with reserved mushrooms and goat yogurt. Serve immediately.

Original soup that I tried to recreate: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fresh-Wild-Mushroom-Soup-233131

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced butter with olive oil
  • added garlic
  • used a different mix of mushrooms
  • replaced brandy with gran marnier
  • replaced all-purpose flour with soya flour (I think this recipe does not need flour what-so-ever though, I would omit this the next time)
  • replaced beef broth with low sodium vegetable stock
  • added goat yogurt as a garnish
  • I pureed the soup and had some mushrooms reserved as a garnish (original recipe did not call for puree)

Soup Mistress Rating for Six Mushroom Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5) 
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4/5)