Saturday, January 8, 2011

Woman's Winter Soup Made for a Man

 There is something about the cold of winter,
especially after the rich delicacies of Christmas,
that makes me yearn for soup.

Perhaps it is related to the fact that all of my experiences with the
stomach contorting grasp of morning sickness were in these winter months.
I had little appetite,
excepting for a very few things: soup was one of them.

But there is a glitch:
 My farmer is not a soup man.
He works outside most days.
In fact, I'm pretty sure a form of torture for him would be to force him to stay indoors for
 twelve eight four hours straight; even with a television or movie in front of his eyeballs.

When we have blizzards and he is forced to stay at home and watch the snow fall and his only escape to the outside is to feed the animals...
well, let's just say he's not in his element.
We work wonderfully together outside with lots of elbow room and diversion,
but inside seems somehow different.

I try to keep a supply in my head of inside things that need to be fixed,
so when rain or snow force the muck boots to stand idle in the boot box,
the body they belong to won't go crazy watching the way I do things.
However, sometimes if I'm cooking,
and the ingredients call out to him,
he is willing to take over.
I gladly submit.
  After all, I am certain that my farmer could have been a world famous chef,
had he chosen that route in life.
Of course, it would have had to be an outside fire pit for this man.
The sun and wind would have had to be involved.
But then he would have had a 500 lb wife from eating all of his incredible cooking,
so I guess it is as it should be.
We get to be the appreciative crowd that "ooo" and "ahhh" over his culinary creations. 

Needless to say,
being a man of the outdoors,
my Farmer expects meals of substance when his weary, oft cold being collapses into the kitchen chair at the supper table.

Here we sit, then, at an impasse:
  I, with my cravings for soup; he, with his need for substance.

And so, my search for real soup has lead me through countless aisles in bookstore's cooking sections and numerous websites on the Internet.

How many different forms of chicken noodle/ beef vegetable soup are there?

I search for that "different" soup, but one that doesn't have a list of ingredients I've never heard before.
After all, we're still farmers living far away from any tropical paradises or seaside ports
living on a common sense budget.

I found a great book of manageable ingredients,
and by manageable, I mean that I know what they are: what the animal looks like that goes into it,
and whether the item is a vegetable or contained in a bottle.

It is called 365 Ways to Cook Chinese.  When I'm in the mood for the taste of the Orient,
I open this book and am transported away on wafts of ginger and sesame oil.

It's a simple soup called Chinese Cabbage Soup.
(This is Napa Cabbage: a much lighter version than our cabbage.  Don't be fooled by the name!)

Here is the recipe.
I have beefed it up to make it suit my Farmer.

Here's how it goes:

 First I took rice noodles from the package and put them in water to soak for about a half hour,
until they've gotten limber.
Limber noodles?  Is that the correct term?
I need to do aerobics.

 Ah, here is the rice noodle package.
It looks like it says 14 oz, so I used about 10 oz for my soup.
(I'd used about 4 oz of them in a previous recipe of another kind).

 Here's the lovely Napa Cabbage,
washed and separated out for me to cut.
I love seeing fresh and green in the winter.
I get where I long for fresh and green.
Violet kept stealing/eating pieces while I was cutting it up
which shows you how it is more like lettuce than cabbage;
she loathes cabbage.

It's like a lettuce that won't disintegrate like lettuce
and so can be used in soup,
but in the cabbage family.

 Thinly slicing the onion here.
(My nails are compliments of my daughter's "art" class.)

 (I must admit that I chopped it: I don't like stringy pieces of onion in my soup).

 Ahhhh.  Fresh ginger.
The world is so much brighter because of this sunny substance.
I used to use powdered ginger,
until I tried cooking with fresh one time.

I'll never look back.
I read somewhere that if you peel the ginger and keep it stored in wine in the refrigerator that it will keep.  I now store my ginger this way, and it lasts for a month or two, maybe longer.  I put it in cooking wine, of course, so then I just use the ginger flavored wine in recipe and use fresh wine the next time I get ginger.

Ginger is an incredible herb: great for the stomach and digestion.
I've developed a love affair with ginger,
although I don't like the taste of Ginger ale unless I'm sick.

Probably another aftermath of morning sickness.
"Buy me some cranberry juice and Ginger ale and some grapefruits, my Farmer, or I won't live to see the morning."

 I used about this much for this recipe:
Scented Sunshine.

I cut and drop it into my garlic press and squeeze it out.
This is the way I do it; if it's totally wrong and your laughing at me for doing it this way,
please, tell me the right way.
I do things rather blindly when I cook sometimes.
" 'Minced ginger'?  How do I 'mince' ginger?"

Now that all the prep work is done, I heat the pot and drop in the ground pork.
(Really, no oil is needed if your making this soup with ground pork.
It is only needed if you're making the vegetarian version).
 This pork is from our pig.
Good stuff.
Thank you, Mr. Pig.
I am now glad that I took you those watermelon rinds.

 When the meat is looking almost done, I poured in the onions and ginger.
The aroma arising from the pan after this segment is incredible.
I wish I could write it for you.

This is always the part where Levi comes in and asks,
"What's for supper."

Do you see a trend with Levi and my recipes?

I feel like I have written this before.

 When this is cooked up, pour in the Napa Cabbage.

 This will need to be stirred for about 5 minutes so it wilts down some.
You don't want it to burn at all.

 "Looking lovely there, soup."

No, I don't actually talk to my soup.

Now we're ready to ad the liquid.
The recipe just says to ad about 6 cups of water,
but I had this broth left over from something else,
so I just dumped it in.
There was about 2 cups of broth.

Then I filled the rest with water...

 and ad soy sauce, salt,...

 sugar (this is raw sugar), and pepper.
It all simmers for about 15 minutes.

 By this time, the rice noodles should be soft.
Drain out the water.
These are super long and all strung together,
which makes for much frustration for the children,
so I usually cut them up into smaller pieces.
But they're nice and...flimsy.
They get cooked in the pot for about 5 minutes.
(At this point, I usually ad the cornstarch that has been mixed with 1/2 cup of cold water til smooth.
It gives a little thickness to the soup.)
 The sesame oil gets added right before I take the pot off the stove.

Yum, yum!
This soup has a very light taste,
so I ad a little more soy sauce to it in my bowl.
The kids like it just as it is.
My Farmer ads Horse Radish.
No, I'm not kidding,
but he adds that to almost anything that resembles soup.

Here is shortened version of the recipe:

Chinese Cabbage Soup

3 Tbs. of butter (or oil: I use coconut oil when I do)
1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
6 Cups finely shredded Napa Cabbage (1 small head)
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. cornstarch
2 tsp. Asian sesame oil

And I added to this recipe:
 - 10 oz. of Rice noodles (or more or less depending on how thick you like your soup: mine ends up being the consistency of stew)
 - 1 lb. of ground pork.

1. Soak rice noodles in water for half and hour.
2. In a large soup pot, cook pork and then ad the ginger and onions when it is almost cooked: (If having it vegetarian style, just ad the oil and stir-fry your onions and ginger for about 3 minutes.)    Ad the Napa Cabbage and stir-fry for about 5 minutes til it has softened, stirring constantly so it won't burn.  Ad 6 cups of water.

2. Add soy sauce, salt, sugar, and pepper; simmer 15 minutes.

3. Ad rice noodles, cut to the size you like them.  Simmer for another 3 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water until smooth and blended; stir in to soup.   Bring to a boil, stirring, until soup thickens, 1 - 2 minutes.  Sprinkle on the sesame oil as you remove the pot from the stove.  Serve plain or with soy sauce and enjoy!

There it is:
man's soup =  meat and noodles.

 Horse Radish.


  1. That has to be the most entertaining recipe i've ever read.

    And the end result looks delish!


  2. Tonya, that did look good. I want to make it! I know Dadwill love it. And I like how you preserve or keep ginger and crush it in a garlic press. Never thought to do it in one! I used a grater which would always get my fingers. I wish I tried it when I was at your house. I use that chinese cabbage in salad too. Rosey just told me about using it for salad when she was here at Christmas time. And its good. I love the flavor of sesame oil. love you.

  3. Thank you, Sue! You're such a nice reader! :)
    Yes, Mom, you should make it. It probably would be great with ground turkey, too! :)

  4. That looks really good. I love chinese noodles so it should work for me.

  5. YUmm!
    I can see this in my kitchen. I love your tips about the ginger... once you have used fresh you will never use dried again. (and then you have the ginger wine)
    Another friday's favorite for sure :-)

  6. I love soup...especially in the cold weather!

    I'm having the very first GIVEAWAY on my blog. Please stop by to submit an entry. Good luck.

  7. This looks SO good! I would love to see if you knew of any soy and rice substitutes? I would love to try it! Thank you for sharing!
    Thanks for linking up to Making It With Allie! I can't wait to see what you have for next week!


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