Soup and Stews

Korean Soft Tofu Stew (Soondoobu Jjigae) by Cynthia Raub

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At a Korean table, a variety of side dishes (banchan) will clutter and cover an entire table to the corners and edges. Each diner is set with their own bowl of rice, a spoon, and chopsticks. A soup or stew is a standard for every mealtime during a Korean meal. As such, a single pot of soup is set in the middle of the table for everyone to eat from directly. Due to the long reach to the communal pot, Korean spoons have longer handles than other culture's spoons for this reason. Interesting, right? You're welcome for that tidbit of trivia knowledge. Don't ever say I never gave you anything. 

This tofu soup comes together in no time, and as I explain in the notes below, is very flexible in ingredients as well. The silken tofu's luscious and soft texture is carried through a mildly spicy soup base with small nibbles of vegetables and meat along the way. Share this pot of stew with your family or some friends, or eat the whole thing by yourself. There's no wrong way to enjoy this fragrant and bubbling mess. 

Notes: This soup can easily be made vegetarian or even vegan! You can also swap the seafood for beef or pork and it will be just as delicious. I made this version of tofu soup to accompany Korean Green Onion and Seafood Pancakes (Pa Jun) so I used the same seafood for both dishes to make it easier on myself. If you omit the animal broth and/or meat, I recommend a spoonful more of kimchi and a bigger glug of sesame oil for more flavor. This is a mild version, so feel free to add Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) or sliced spicy peppers to your liking. Also, I had a difficult time tracking down silken tofu - so don't be discouraged if you can't find it, either. Soft tofu is a perfectly delicious substitute for this soup.

Serves: 1 - 4
Time: 20 minutes

1/4 cup chopped seafood (I used shrimp and squid.)
3 clams
1 tablespoon grape seed oil (or any other neutral oil)
1/4 cup chopped kimchi
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced zucchini
1 cup of stock (vegetable, seafood, chicken, beef) or water
14 ounces silken tofu
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon green onion, thinly sliced
1 egg

Cut seafood into small dice and clean and sort clams. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat grape seed oil on medium high heat. Add kimchi, garlic, mushrooms, and zucchini; cook until tender and barely browned, about 2-3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Scoop large spoonfuls of silken tofu from its package into the boiling soup base. Reduce heat to medium and bring back to a hard simmer, stirring occasionally to break up the tofu. Simmer for 3 minutes until tofu is heated through. Season with kosher salt. Add seafood and cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Reduce the heat to low and drizzle the soup with sesame oil and scatter green onions. Crack an egg into a small bowl and gently pour on top of the soup; the hot soup with cook the egg. Serve from your saucepan and enjoy!

Audy's Tom Yum Soup by Amy Cantu

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When I told my sister that we were going to feature some of our dad’s Thai home-cooking on the blog, she enthusiastically said, “Oh Dad makes the BEST tom yum soup!” I think she’s right. I’m hard-pressed to find a better one at any Thai restaurant - with generous pieces of fish, shrimp, and scallops (my favorite). The key to his soup is making sure to get the right balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy - you really do need to taste the soup and adjust the seasonings so that they equally satisfy all four senses. Limes vary in size, acidity and sweetness - so use your tastebuds as your guide and the listed amounts in the recipe as suggestions.

Notes: Thai soups are fragrant and spicy from all the fresh aromatic herbs and chilies. There will be large chunks of galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves in the final soup that are not meant to be eaten, but are there to flavor the soup. You can fish them out before you serve, or do as the Thais do, and just eat around them. Lemongrass, lime leaves (a.k.a. makrut or kaffir lime leaves), and galangal can be found in the produce section of most Asian supermarkets and some well-stocked grocery stores. If you cannot find lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves, you can substitute strips of lime or lemon zest. You can also substitute ginger for the galangal. It will not have same flavor, but the soup will still taste good. Thai fish sauce or nam pla, can also be found in Asian supermarkets or in the Asian section of a well-stocked grocery store.

My dad uses scallops, salmon, and shrimp for the seafood in this soup. You can use any combination of seafood (mussels and other firm-fleshed fish work well) or substitute cut-up chicken.

Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4-5 generously

¼ cup cilantro (with stems), finely chopped
1-2 fresh Thai bird chilies or serrano chilies, finely diced
1-2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla), add more or less to taste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
1 inch piece of galangal, sliced into ⅛” pieces
4 makrut lime leaves
2 stalks of lemongrass, cut into 2" lengths
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1” dice
1 shallot, cut into 1” dice
½ pound white button mushrooms, sliced into ½” pieces (about 2 cups)
½ pound salmon, cut into 2” pieces
½ pound sea scallops
½ pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

Combine cilantro, finely diced chilies, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar into a serving bowl and reserve. Remove outer layer of lemongrass stalk and cut stalk into 2-inch lengths. Using the butt of a kitchen knife, pound and bruise stalks all over.

Pour stock and water into a large pot, add galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and sliced lemongrass; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add onion and shallots and simmer for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and simmer for 3 more minutes. Add salmon, simmer for 1 minute. Add scallops and simmer for 1 minute. Add shrimp and simmer for 1 minute or until just pink and no longer translucent. (Seafood will continue to cook in the hot broth after removing from heat.)

Ladle into serving bowl containing chili and cilantro mixture, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust lime juice (sour), fish sauce (salty), sugar (sweet), and chilies (spicy) as needed. (The soup should taste equally sour, salty, sweet, and spicy.) Serve immediately.

Chicken Chili by Amy Cantu

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chicken chili

I love all versions of chili - beef or chicken (ground or chunky), with or without beans, all beans no meat, added veggies, or just tomatoes - it all has a place in my heart (and my belly). I was having a rough day, when I decided to make this chili. You know, one of those days where you are jolted awake from a deep sleep, realize you are late, and then the universe throws in a few obstacles to keep you on your toes - cranky kids, a stubbed toe, and some rain for good measure. I needed some comfort food, and I also was not about to make another trip to the grocery store. Who knows what could happen to me between here and there? I had boneless, skinless chicken breast in the house, so that’s what I used to make this chili. Because it’s made with chicken, the chili is much lighter than traditional beef chilis, but it still packs in a lot of flavor from the extra tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. The best thing about this chicken chili is that it tastes amazing on the day you make it, and even better the next day, after all the flavors have had a chance to meld together. Cynthia added a pan of perfect, buttery cornbread, and suddenly all felt right in the world again.

Notes: I served this to four small children (who ate it enthusiastically), so I omitted the red pepper flakes and cayenne. If you like a lot of spices in your food, you may find that you want to add additional chili powder. Make sure to taste it and adjust to fit your tastebuds!

This is also delicious with chipotle peppers, which add a smoky flavor and some heat. Add 2-3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, and omit the dried pepper flakes and cayenne. To make it vegetarian or vegan, omit the chicken and use four cans of beans (different types), and choose your toppings accordingly.

Read More: The Shared Chili

Developed from Ina Garten’s recipe.

Time: 2 hours
Servings: 8

4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
4 cloves minced garlic
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
1 tablespoon chili powder (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
3 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 15-ounce cans beans, rinsed and drained (any variety - red kidney, cannelini, pinto, or black beans)
Freshly ground black pepper

Toppings: Grated cheese (Monterey Jack, Cheddar, etc.), chopped cilantro, chopped onions (any type - I used green onions), sour cream, lime wedges, and/or tortilla chips

Crush the tomatoes by hand into small pieces or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Reserve.

In a large dutch oven or pot, cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes and cayenne (if using), and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved tomatoes and basil to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch chunks. Add to the chili along with the rinsed beans and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.

Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

White Bean Soup with Wilted Greens by Cynthia Raub

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white bean soup

I love soup! I love lunch!!! The idea of a Soup and Salad lunch is lovely -- to eat a light meal during the day that won't weigh you down so you can continue to kick ass the rest of the day. I'm normally not that sensible, as my meal preferences skew towards heavy and regretful with a generous serving of guilt. Soups like this one, a White Bean Soup with Wilted Greens are deceptively delectable and satisfying despite its humble ingredients. Soups are easy and wholesome weeknight meals that transform into delicious leftovers for lunch the next day. Because I was so proud of myself for not starting this soup with browned sausage, I added the option of fried pancetta and pancetta-fat torn croutons at the end. Because as much as I love soup and lunch, I really REALLY love cured ham products and bread fried in oil. The soup alone is hearty and delicious; but when I prepared this for Amy and Christine, I felt compelled to finish it with additional optional garnishes to make it special.

Notes: I have made this soup numerous times and every time, it's a little different. This is the amazing thing about the forgiving nature of soups! I've made it with beans I have cooked, canned beans, water, chicken stock; I have added sausage, and most of the time I don't have a hard cheese rind to add- but it's always delicious despite the small changes! The acid at the end can also be changed to white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. This soup tends to thicken up as it sits. When reheating leftovers, add a splash of broth or water to thin out. To make this vegetarian, omit the pancetta croutons and perhaps make olive oil and garlic croutons instead. Additionally removing the parmesan and rind would make this recipe vegan.


Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 large meals, 8 smaller portions

White Bean Soup with Wilted Greens
8 tablespoons olive oil plus more for serving
1 cup onion (small dice)
1 cup celery (small dice)
1 cup carrot (large dice)
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added white beans (Great Northern, Cannellini or Navy beans all work here), rinsed and drained
1 (1 1/2-ounce) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
4 cups of greens (kale, escarole, or spinach)
Lemon juice to taste
Shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary for garnish

Pancetta Fat Torn Croutons
6 oz diced pancetta
1 sprig thyme (optional)
2 crushed garlic cloves (optional)
4 loose cups of a rustic bread (Ciabatta, Pugliese, etc.) torn into 1 inch pieces
Olive Oil

Tear 1 inch pieces of bread from a loaf of bread - about 4 loose cups, set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add celery, carrots and garlic, and sweat for 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth, beans, herbs (except chopped rosemary), and cheese rind. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, sauté the pancetta, crushed garlic clove, and thyme sprig in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is browned. Remove pancetta to a paper towel lined plate. Reserve fat, thyme and garlic in the pan.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pancetta pan at medium-high heat. Add torn bread in a single layer to the pan. Toss the bread frequently, exposing all sides to the fat and heat, browning the bread until golden. Cooking the croutons may have to be done in batches, depending on the size of your pan. Add oil each time, enough to cover the bottom of the pan lightly, for every batch. Sprinkle croutons with kosher salt.

Add greens to the soup and simmer until the greens are wilted. Taste, adjusting salt and pepper to your palette, then finish with a squeeze of lemon juice for brightness. Remove and discard parmesan rind; ladle into a bowl, finish with a drizzle of nice olive oil, chopped rosemary, croutons and pancetta.

Recipe developed from:
30-minute Tuscan White Bean Soup
White Bean Soup with Escarole