Doenjang Guk – A Korean Vegetarian Delightful Meal in a Bowl

I have to say that I am really enjoying finding recipes that go well with Kimchi as a sidekick (Kimchi is one of our favorite homemade staples in the house lately). Back in early December, I made a Kimchi Soup and it was oh so creamy and spicy delight!

Why not try something different and keep Korean? So this afternoon I was searching for another Korean Vegetarian soup contender to make and this recipe fancied me particularly because we had a few zucchini’s already in the fridge as well as the Korean Bean paste.

Hmm, interesting. During my journey learning about Korean cuisine, I learned a good differentiation from soups versus stews:

  • Doenjang Guk – means Korean Bean Paste Soup (more liquid is used than the stew below), Guk = soup.
  • Doenjang Jjigae  – means Korean Bean Paste Stew (just use less liquid), Jjigae = stew

Who knew…good to know. I am going to watch the terminology being used whenever I eat out at a Korean Restaurant!

The Verdict of Korean Soybean Paste Vegetarian Soup: 

Korean cuisine is truly impressing me, especially so in the soup department. This recipe is so easy and one would think that the soup base simmered for a long time and/or have had a ton of labour behind it because of its rich beautiful creamy and deep base. No not so. With the zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, tofu and onion, it is such a healthy soup. The shiitake mushrooms definitely added another deep meaty level to the soup and also the base itself. I would not use nothing but shiitake mushrooms. Add in the Kimchi and an optional 7 minute egg and you have a meal!

More soup? Yes please? Give me more…I love this Korean Bean Paste Soup. Deep base, spicy goodness and the zucchini are so flavorful and filling.

 

Missing from picture above: Kimchi and eggs in which I added in at the end!

Korean Soybean Paste Vegetarian Soup Ingredients:

  • 4 small zucchini, peeled, thinly sliced and cut into quarter circles
  • 1 packet (50g, 1.8 ounces) shiitake mushrooms – thinly sliced.
  • 1 medium yellow onion – diced.
  • 250g  (8.8 ounces) Korean tofu – medium firm – diced or cut into small rectangular pieces
  • 5 cups vegetable broth

Soup seasoning sauce (mix these well in a small bow):

  • 6 Tbsp Korean soybean paste (Doenjang)
  • 2 tsp Korean chili paste (Gochujang)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp anchovies, minced
  • 2 tablespoon seaweed
  • 1 cup hot water
Garnish
  • green onion, sliced very thin the long way
  • kimchi
  • seven minute boiled eggs

Korean Soybean Paste Vegetarian Soup Instructions:

  • Mix all ingredients for soup seasoning in a bowl with 1 cup of hot water.
  • Heat olive oil up in pot,
  • Sauté zucchini and the onion for 3 minutes on med high heat. Add in soup seasoning and 5 cups of veggie stock.
  • Add the tofu and boil for a further 1 to 2 mins.
  • Add the shiitake mushroom and and boil for last the 1 to 2 mins.
  • Turn the heat off and serve.
  • Serve with green onion thinly sliced, a big spoonful of Kimchi and a 7 minute runny egg. Enjoy the meal!
Inspired By This Original Recipe: http://mykoreankitchen.com/2015/05/23/korean-soybean-paste-soup-doenjang-guk/

What I changed from the original recipe:

  • Omitted enoki mushrooms.
  • Revised amounts to make 2x more soup base.
  • Added green onions as garnish.
  • Used 1 tsp anchovies.
  • Used mara seaweed instead of kelp.
  • Used veggie broth instead of water.
  • Added Kimchi as garnish
  • Added 7 minute boiled egg as garnish
Soup Mistress Rating For Korean Soybean Paste Vegetarian Soup:
Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5) 
Presentation: (4.5/5 )
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Cashew Cream of Leek, Zucchini and Parsley Soup

Serve up

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Serve onions on top for garnish with some finely chopped parsley.

I just picked up a great cook book in Vancouver (Mouthwatering Vegan, Over 130 Irresistible Recipes For Everyone). I read it from front cover to back cover like I have done so with all of my cookbooks and magazines. I love reading recipes to learn from common techniques and ratios of ingredients, especially so for soups!

I decided to make this super easy soup for a chilly rainy day. It fancied me because it had leeks – they are something that I want to use more in my cooking.

The Verdict of Zucchini Leek and Cashew Cream Soup?

This soup is very nice and healthy indeed. At first I found the soup quite bland when I tried it, but when we added garlic and then truffle salt at the end, bam – it was to die for! Also, the addition of caramelized onions as a garnish was a good idea…I went back for more onions when I got halfway through my bowl of soup! I wished that I caramelized more onions though – perhaps next time!

This soup freezes well and is very much so truffle salts best friend! I would make it again next time!

Zucchini Leek and Cashew Cream Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 or 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1/2 cashew cream (1/4 cup of cashews and 1/2 cup water)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
Zucchini Leek and Cashew Cream Instructions Soup:
  1. In a large sauce pan, heat the oil.
  2. Saute leeks and garlic for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add zucchini and sauté for 4 more minutes.
  4. Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes over low heat.
  5. Blend using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender (be very careful when blending hot liquids!), until soup is smooth.
  6. Return soup back into pot to reheat, add salt and pepper
  7. Soak 1/4 cup of cashews in water for 20 minutes, drain and blend in blender with 1/2 cup of water.
  8. Add cashew cream to soup, keep soup in pot on very low/simmer.
  9. Fry up onions until they are slightly caramelized.
  10. Add finely chopped parley to soup pot and stir (leave a little for garnish)
  11. Ladle soup in bowls.
  12. Serve onions on top for garnish with some finely chopped parsley.
  13. Sprinkle a small amount of truffle oil and/or truffle salt.
  14. Enjoy!
Original Soup Recipe: from a book I just purchased: Mouthwatering Vegan, Over 130 Irresistible Recipes For Everyone, by Miriam Sorrell.

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Used truffle oil and truffle salt after soup ladled in bowls
  • Used fried caramelized onions as garnish with parsley
  • Added 2 cloves of garlic
  • Adjusted leeks and zucchini to 3 and 2

Oh ya, I made a great accompaniment with the soup – Tomato Onion Phyllo Pie, here’s a recipe that was my inspiration: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/tomato-onion-phyllo-pizza. So delish and so easy!

Soup Mistress Rating for Zucchini Leek and Cashew Cream Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5
Presentation: (4/5) 

Taste: (4/5) 

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) 

Ra Ra For Kristen Suzanne’s Harvest Raw Soup

Raw Harvest Soup

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The Completed Raw Harvest Soup

I have been meaning to try raw (uncooked) soup recipes and venture out more to raw food restaurants in Vancouver. Don`t get me wrong, I do love bacon, prosciutto and cooked foods – I am not a vegan and I do like to cook some of my food.  I do though try to eat a fair bit of raw foods (salads, veggies, fruits, fresh juices, nuts etc..) and I am a huge advocate of Vega One (a plant based shake)  – been taking it for over 2 years for breakfast. Having a raw food based diet in the mornings helped me a ton to do long runs and work bright eyed and effectively all day. I have never felt healthier.

So What Are The Benefits of Raw?
In short, when you cook your food, you’re destroying the nutrients. Read more here on the benefits of raw food.

A few weeks ago, I started following Choosing Raw on Facebook. She shared this raw soup recipe that she swore is awesome and she made it a few times in one week.

The Verdict of Kristen Suzanne’s Raw Harvest Soup ? Overall, this soup tasted pretty good! Presentation leaves a little to be desired being purred and all. The soup was a little warm and went down nice and smooth. I had some left over in fridge and tried it later chilled – I prefer it right out of the blender at room temperature though. My favorite thing I liked about this soup is how healthy I felt instantly and it was quite filling.

Kristen Suzanne’s Raw Harvest Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups carrot, chopped
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4cup flax oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Kristen Suzanne’s Raw Harvest Soup Instructions:

  • Blend all of the ingredients except for the flax oil, on high speed in your blender until really creamy (approximately one minute). Then, while the blender is running on low speed, add the flax oil. Continue blending, at a higher speed, for another minute or less. This will make it slightly warm. Enjoy!

Original Recipe here: http://kristensraw.com/blog/2007/09/05/kristen-suzannes-harvest-soup/

What I changed from the original recipe:

  • Used 1 and 1/4 cup of water to compensate for less flax oil
  • Instead of Himalayan crystal salt I used sea salt
  • instead of 1 tablespoon of onion powder I used 1/4 cup of chopped white onion
  • used 1/4 cup of flax oil versus 1/2 cup
  • added coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg (original recommend pumpkin pie spice mix as optional)

Soup Mistress Rating for Kristen Suzanne’s Raw Harvest Soup:

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

White Spot Pumpkin Soup and Rock Stars – A Soup Review

Pumkin Soup White Spot

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Pumpkin Soup at White Spot

This afternoon, I was shopping for some running shoes in Burnaby and I decided to go to White Spot for lunch on Market Crossing (just off of Marine Drive).

I asked my server (a very friendly gal named Anita) what was the special soup and she said that it was Pumpkin Soup. At first, I was going to pass on it and go for the Chowder that is offered on the menu, but my server was so passionate and said that the pumpkin soup was very VERY good. She left and came back right away with a taster for me. Wow, that was great service – I never even asked for it! Loved that special attention and ability to try before making a commitment.

And yes, she was right, the Pumpkin Soup was yummy. Don’t get me wrong, but I am a huge fan of pumpkin soup, but by December I’m usually very tired of it because I have made many batches in the fall.

But this one was different…

What’s the verdict of White Spots Pumpkin Soup? It was way better than the average pumpkin pureed soup. It was like creamy velvet and it had some nice texture with finely grated vegetables. I think it was carrots, zucchini and possibly squash that was grated in the soup after it was pureed. Also the soup had a good balance of acidity. I think I am going to try to recreate this soup at home.

White Spot Rock Stars:
I gave Anita (my server) feedback that I really liked the soup and mentioned that I was curious to know what the ingredients were. She totally went out of her way to ask her Kitchen Manager. And shortly after, Calvin Canlas came to the table to talk to me about the soup – he was a true evangelist for White Spots menu. His eyes really lighted up when we talked about soups and he shared his recent liking of fried leeks as a garnish on top of soups – I concurred, as it is something I want to try in one of my soups as well. He also promised to email me the exact ingredients and also printed off a similar pumpkin soup recipe that he recommended himself (I may have to try in future as well). Both, Anita and Calvin are Rock Stars – White Spot should be so proud to have employees like them. Thumbs up to White Spot on Market Crossing!

Main soup kitchen at White Spot:
Since White Spot is a chain restaurant (40+ restaurants in lower mainland), they make the soups in their main kitchen to keep quality control and most likely cost control. I guessed that they would have some additional ingredients to help to emulsify and/or stabilize the soup versus what you use if you were to make at home. I think that is fair enough – and I don’t care because it does taste really good.

The only thing I would recommend to White Spot is to add some kind of garnish on the top the soup (be it fresh herbs or a sprig, something crunchy or even some finely grated raw carrot).

Bye bye pumpkin and hello roasted tomato: Calvin told me that White Spot should be serving up their popular Old Fashion Roasted Tomato Soup in near future to replace it’s Pumpkin soup. Something that I will have to come back and try for sure.

White Spots Pumpkin Soup ingredients: Calvin promptly emailed me the ingredients later in the afternoon and here they are:

Water, pumpkin puree, heavy cream, carrots, onions, half and half (milk and cream), enriched flour, (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron thiamine mononitrate, roboflavin, folic acid, ascorbic acid, enzyme) butter(cream milk), natural flavour, yellow squash, zucchini, celery, tomato sauce, (tomato puree, salt, citric acid), onion powder, chicken meat and chicken juices, modified cornstarch, yeast extract. ginger puree, chives, soy and corn protein, spices, sugar, red pepper sauce, potato flavourings, potato flour, black and white pepper, carrot powder, turmeric.  Milk, soybeans and wheat.

If I was to try to recreate this soup at home: I think I am going to try to recreate this at home. I especially liked it with the finely grated vegetables. I would probably do the following:

  •  use alternate soup thickeners such as soy flour or Xanthum Gum instead of the wheat flour so that it is gluten-free soup. Who knows though, I may not even use a thickener or just use more potato.
  •  omit onion and carrot powder and just rely on the fresh onion and carrots.
  • use low sodium vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
  • add some lemon juice and lemon rind at the end of the cooking process.
  • as for the process (roughly). I would first saute the onions, chopped pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, potato and squash, add the stock, spices, herbs, simmer for 20 minutes, puree the soup, add in the creams/thickeners with some finely shredded carrots and zucchini, simmer for 5 minutes to soften the shredded vegetables a tad, add lemon juice and rind.
  • definitely serve the soup with some fresh herbs or some sort of garnish on top. I think this is the only thing White Spot should add to their Pumpkin soups just before serving!
  • experiment with some fresh herbs like parsley, oregano – I think the soup had an additional green herb, but It may have been the chives…I may be wrong though.

Oh BTW – I had White Spots Oven Baked Vegetable Sandwich with my soup and it complimented it very well.

Soup Mistress Rating for White Spots Pumpkin Soup:

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

Have you discovered any yummy soups at White Spot? Feel free to share below in comments.

Zucchini, Red Pepper and Basil Soup – A Recipe Makeover

Zucchini and Red Pepper Basil Soup

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The completed Zucchini and Red Pepper Basil Soup

Zucchini can seem a little bland to me. I’m liking this soup makeover mostly because I added some lemon for a zing as well as a hot pepper for some pizazz. This is one of my most recent recipe makeovers. 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 parmesan from recipe or use a soy-based alternative)
  • gluten-free

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups zucchini, cut in medium-sized chunks
  • 3 cups water
  • 1.5 cup chopped onion
  • 1 red or orange pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small sweet hot pepper chopped finely (take out seeds)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup packed basil leaves chopped
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • garnished with finely chopped tomato and freshly grated parmesan

Cooking Instructions:
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; sauté about 8 minutes (until onions are soft). Add chopped zucchini, red pepper and 3 cups water, after 5 minutes adjust down to a simmer (reduce heat) for about 10-15 minutes (until zucchini is soft).

Add chopped basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, hot pepper in blender and then vegetables. Puree soup in blender until very smooth (work in batches if you need to).

Return soup to pot. Add some water if you wish to thin out the soup a tad more. Simmer 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish soup with some finely chopped tomatoes, small basil leave and freshly grated parmesan and serve.

Original Recipe that I tried and adjusted: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Zucchini-Basil-Soup-242831

What I changed from original recipe:

  • adjusted the 1/4 cup of oilve oil down to 2 tablespoons
  • adjusted 3/4 cup of onions up to 1 cup
  • added freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • added red pepper
  • added sweet hot pepper
  • added lemon zest
  • added tomato and parmesan garnish
  • omitted julienne zucchini – looked kind of odd and I wanted an alternative garnish with contrast

Soup Mistress Rating for Zucchini Basil Soup Recipe Makeover:

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