If I could choose a best friend made of food, this soup would be it.
I wouldn’t be lying if I said that this soup has helped me through some of the hardest times in my life. The times when I was too stressed to cook anything substantial, the times when just accomplishing the task of feeding myself seemed like a triumph, the times when I was sick, heartbroken, tired, or just plain lazy, this soup had my back.
More practically, being from northern Canada, soup forms a major part of my diet. In the dead of winter there were stretches of weeks at a time when I would make this soup in one form or another for both warmth and comfort.
Last year I moved to the UK. I wanted to start over and make a big change, and change is what I got! But, as the months went on, I began to miss my family, my friends, my life at home. This soup began to make a reappearance in my diet. As I made this and smelled the familiar smell I thought of all the times I shared a bowl of something similar with my Dad in Newfoundland, or my mom in Alberta. I thought of all of the times I made this in the past- coming home from skiing with friends or as a pre-bed snack after a late night party and it would temporarily make me feel less alone.
Not to say that this soup has any magic powers or special ingredients. It doesn’t. It’s just a simple broth soup with endless possibilties. Not so much a recipe, but a suggestion of flavours. Because, just like any best friend, even though its personality changes from time to time it’ll always be there to give you the comfort and warmth that you need.
- 3 cups (750 ml) good quality vegetable stock
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ small onion, roughly chopped
- 5 shitake mushroooms, rehydrated
- Any vegetables you like (I use carrots, baby bok choy, sugar snap peas, broccoli and cauliflower)
- ½ block (approx. 200g) of tofu (I prefer either silken tofu or deep fried tofu)
- Your favourite noodles (I use glass noodles, rice vermicelli or udon noodles)
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- Place stock, five spice powder, pepper, onion and shitake mushrooms in a medium sauce pan.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, soak your rice noodles in hot water until soft (or cook according to package).
- Divide the noodles between the bowls
- Add the tofu and vegetables of your choice to the stock and cook until vegetables are tender, but not over done (this will depend on what vegetables you use, but usually about 2-3 minutes)
- Split vegetables between the bowls.
- Ladle broth on top of the vegetables.
- Finish each bowl with ½ tsp of the toasted sesame oil.
Ben’s Verdict (aka A MeatEater Responds):