Soup can be such a comfort.
My mom had only a handful of soups she made–my dad preferred canned–but when he was out to sea, she made them fairly often, and what they lacked in variety or complexity, they made up for in deliciousness. Her clam chowder has four or five ingredients; her split pea is just split peas, ham hocks, carrots, onions, and celery; kneidlach soup is a bit more of a production. I can’t remember any others that she made with any regularity.
Here’s a soup that was a bit of an accident. I was in the mood for kimchi soup, but I was out of kimchi and didn’t realize it until I got to the fridge. Oh, woe!
I have made several iterations of this, and as I always was with mom’s soups, I’m impressed with how flavorful and complex it seems with so few ingredients (and some of the ingredients there are are optional, so you may have even fewer).
Soup isn’t about spending hours in the kitchen, usually, at least not for me. Soup is about comfort. And comfort is about love.
Please have this soup recipe from me, with love. Even better, serve it to someone who will feel loved because of the gift.
- 2-4 tablespoons olive oil or other oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 1 small carrot, chopped
- 1 cup potatoes, chopped (optional)
- dash salt
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 4 cups chicken broth (homemade or low-sodium)
- 1 can (15 oz or so) coconut milk (I use organic to avoid the additives)
- Vietnamese fish sauce to taste (or use soy sauce or tamari)
- 1 cup (5-10) Japanese fish balls or other fish-cake-like item (or use cubes of fresh boneless fish, or shelled and deveined shrimp)
- ¼ to ½ cup fresh or frozen green peas
- fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat.
- Add onion, celery, carrot, potatoes (optional), and salt to saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to turn translucent.
- Add garlic and ginger and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Add chicken broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
- Add fish sauce to taste. I usually start with a few tablespoons and taste the broth, then add more if necessary.
- Add fish and peas and cook about 10 minutes more, until fish is heated through.
- Garnish with cilantro if desired, and serve.
If you don’t have an East Asian grocery near you, some ingredients may be harder to find, so I’ve offered substitutions that I know from experience are good.