Food: Thai Beet Soup

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I’m in a soup making mood and that explains my pure of heartiness.  Blame it on the weather, flu season or just craving a warm bowl of healthy goodness.   In any case in the last week alone I’ve made homemade Miso Soup, Sweet Potato & Lentil, Bone Broth and last night for the first time, Thai Beet Soup. What I look for is nutritional value, tastiness, uniqueness and lastly (it is soup) presentation.  I think this one falls into all those categories.  It was delicious.  The beets make this a colourful and liver supporting meal.  The beautiful Thai flavours are also full of antioxidants. See bottom for health benefits of select ingredients.  If you make it, I’d love your feedback.beetsoup1

THAI BEET SOUP

Ingredients

5 medium beets – peel if not organic and chop into bite size pieces

2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil

4 shallots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups (1 liter) vegetable stock (preferably homemade)

2 Tbsp. ginger, grated

1 stalk *lemongrass, discard outer dry leaves and mince the bottom (1/3 of stalk)

2 cups (500 ml) coconut milk

1 Tbsp. tamari (or low sodium soy sauce if you don’t have tamari)

1 tsp. raw honey

2 limes,  juiced

½ tsp. unrefined salt (try Himalayan)

¼ cup cilantro for garnish (or try fresh dill)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.  Place beets in baking dish and cover the bottom of the dish with ½ inch of water (to prevent from drying out).  Cover and bake until tender – approx. 45 minutes or until a fork can easily be inserted into middle.

Once beets are ready, melt coconut oil in large pot over medium heat.

Add shallots and garlic, cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

For the remainder of the lemongrass that is inedible (outer leaves and upper portion), you can bruise/pound them with a mortar to release the oils and add to the soup whole for extra flavour.  Of course remove them when soup is done.

Add the beets and the rest of the ingredients, except for the cilantro or dill if using.  Simmer until heated through.

Serve in bowls and garnish with cilantro or dill.  You can add a dollop of yogurt if you like to make it more like a borscht.

If you prefer a pureed soup, you can use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.  Just remove the bruised lemongrass first.

*Lemongrass can be substituted for lemon zest (zest of ½ lemon = 1 stalk of lemongrass).beetsoup2

Nutritional Value of Select Ingredients

Beets: The beetroot is an excellent source of folic acid, and a great source of fibre, manganese and potassium.  It is an excellent tonic for the liver, has anti-cancer properties, increases bowel function and decreases cholesterol levels.  The greens are even higher in nutritional value than the roots; they are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.

Garlic: Garlic is touted as a “cure-all” due to its many uses in medicine.  It has a beneficial effect on heart disease, cancer, and infectious diseases.  It decreases cholesterol levels, detoxifies the body, stimulates the immune system, and the list goes on and on.  It’s more beneficial if you smash it or at least chop it beforehand to let the oxygen get to it and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before using.

Ginger: This root is an excellent remedy for nausea, morning sickness, upset stomach, indigestion, vomiting, motion sickness, and cramps.  It helps to lower blood pressure, reduce fever, prevent internal blood clots, etc.  Who ever knew that something so medicinal could be so tasty!

Soup’s On!

FOOD Fad: I’ve Got a Bone to Pick

FOOD FANATICS see trends come and go, but sometimes chefs can take a good thing and turn it into a cliché. Case in point: these bone dishes we’ve been seeing a little too much of:

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Marrow Overkill — A giant shank cut lengthwise is too much of a good thing.                        (I went to a top buffet in Vegas where they had platters of bone marrow).  My friend was like “omg they have bone marrow…I’m so going for that”.  I did too but it wasn’t the high point of my dinner.

Bone-In Burger — A burger with a bone sticking out just for laughs is…laughable.
Bone Broth — C’mon: Broth was made with bones centuries before the paleo craze.

I’m laughing because all of a sudden “bone broth” is a thing People are drinking the liquid all day long as a medicinal to prevent sickness or keep from getting more sick than they already are (like when you have a basic cold).

Most of us grew up with our grandmothers making soup from scratch which meant first making a stock from chicken or beef bones – same as today (unless you buy “already made” broth from a can or box which every grocery stores sells).  I know people who buy broth from a butcher for $10 a litre.  To make a good batch of soup you’d need at least 3-4 litres. And to make your own don’t forget that marrow no longer comes cheap.  At $4-5 a lb. it doesn’t seem like much but you’ll need several bones to make a large pot of soup and with all the extras you can prepare to spend about $30 to make it worthwhile.  Anything time consuming you want to have lots of.

Making a homemade *stock (or broth) from bones does take time to do properly but it’s so worthwhile.  You cannot recreate a good soup solely from adding Knorr® bouillon cubes to water.  But if a recipe calls for only adding a little stock (eg: rice or risotto) I use “better than bouillon” in its many forms (beef, chicken or veggie depending). It’s the next best thing if homemade is not on hand.

I credit the bone broth trend for giving me a kick to going back to making wholesome soups from scratch.

Homemade Beef Broth - made with bones
Back to Basic Homemade Beef Broth

Nothing replaces it. The ‘bone broth’ most people are now referring to is the kind that you cook for up to two days where the bones begin to disintegrate and then you strain everything through a sieve to get only the liquid.  This has to be done with chicken because beef bones don’t really disintegrate entirely. I can’t even tell you how long it would take if they did. With beef you make sure to get bones with as much marrow in them as possible because the marrow is what gives you the nutritive qualities that have all the healthy benefits. Bone broth builds bones, and the likely reason is it’s high in gelatin — collagen. And collagen is what provides the framework for good bones. That’s what’s needed to lay on calcium and other minerals. Gelatin is one of the healthiest foods you can eat and has benefits ranging from reducing wrinkles (I’m told it’s even better than botox but I wouldn’t know!), healing joints, building stronger bones, and even improving dental health. The biggest benefit of gelatin is that it is apparently a gut healer.bones2I’ve been buying large grass fed beef shanks with marrow and add **oxtail for flavour.  I brown them first before putting them into my large slow cooker set on high for one hour and then low for as long as it takes for the marrow to soften and the meat to fall away from the bones.  Last time it took 36 hours.  This is the original slow cooking. They will create their own juices over time (just make sure you check to make sure they don’t dry out – add water if you need to) but you can always put them into a large pot of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for hours.  Then once cool, remove all the bones, cut up the meat and set aside.  Then cut up your veggies (garlic, onion, celery, carrots) and add spices and 2-3 bay leaves to the pot.  If using a slow cooker you can now add water.  I put some of the bones back in with the vegetables and remove once the veggies are fully cooked.  Once the veggies are soft and the stock is tasting good I then add the meat and a bunch of cut-up kale and sometimes serve over tiny egg noodles or macaroni for added heartiness.  See? It’s so easy – just that everyone is in so much in a hurry now to have it…now.

A great pot of soup is nurturing and at this time of year especially there’s always some on hand in my house either in the fridge or freezer.  And it tastes like what your grandmother used to make.  Which is all the rage.

Nice to know grannies are trending

*The only difference between a stock and a broth is a stock uses bones, and a broth is the liquid the meat was cooked in.

**Oxtail: not only does it add more flavour but it also contains trace amounts of calcium, with 10 milligrams of calcium present in 100 grams of oxtail and is a very good source of iron.

Do you make soup from scratch or try to cut corners? – just wondering.

Food: Wolfgang Puck’s Asparagus Soup

I hope you enjoy this *pheremone enhancing recipe with added Leeks and Herbsasparagussoup

For the past five years Wolfgang Puck, long-reigning king at the L.A. institution Spago, has been on a new path, working out with a trainer and revamping his menus to emphasize fresh produce and whole grains.  “I like to buy high-quality ingredients and simply enhance them rather than alter their flavor or color,” says Puck.  His new cookbook, Wolfgang Puck Makes it Healthy, offers all the details.  Asparagus creates an ultra-bright soup. Cooling it in an ice bath as soon as it’s blended, keeps the hue vivid and preserves the chlorophyll so that the dish will be healthier and taste even better according to Puck.

Ingredients:

20141102_212656What to do with them:20141102_212735

*Link to last Tuesday’s post – Foods that affect Pheremones: https://girlwhowouldbeking.com/2014/11/11/foods-that-affect-pheromones/

Asparagus was one of them.  Asparagus is high in Vitamin E, which is believed to stimulate sex hormones…enough said!

Photos: d. king (ha, ha…….not my usual style but I’m traveling).

Simple and Satisfying – healthy veggie noodle soup.

Japanese inspired with crunchy seaweed on top & soba noodles.

Asian Inspired veggie noodle soup – my version. This is a great tasting dish and so healthy too. It will help you avoid getting a cold.

I recently had lunch at a noodle house where everything was made fresh on the spot with your choice of noodles from buckwheat to rice to udon.

You can tick off all the veggies and meat or dumplings you want to add to it on a little sheet where everything is listed.  Fun!  I want chicken dumplings with rice noodles and baby bok choy, tofu, mushrooms, green onions and spinach.  Don’t feel like the crunchy cruciferous ones right now.  I bought a homemade hot/garlic sauce which really added oomph to the broth.

Chinese inspired with baby bok choy, snow peas & spinach noodles.

Then on my way home I bought the following:

Shiro Miso Soybean Paste for making broth (which they use for Miso soup), extra firm tofu, a bunch of different veggies and I had buckwheat and spinach noodles at home just waiting to be useful.

Added chicken stock for additional flavor, some bonito flakes and a bit of bonito flavoured soup stock (available at any Japanese grocery store) and steamed the veggies in a huge bamboo steamer.  At the end I tossed in some baby spinach, tofu & sliced green onion.  Then upon serving a little soy, some crunchy seaweed/sesame and Japanese 7 house spice that is on the table at every single Japanese restaurant.  The actual name in English is red pepper mix or Shichimi TogarashiNothing with M.S.G.

Let me say that it was simple to prepare and so delicious that I may never end up going back to that little noodle house ever again…except to buy more of their special house hot sauce.

What about you?  Do you love Asian INspired soups? What kind of noodles are your favorite?

Note: You can find many Asian groceries like noodles, bean paste and spices now at places like Whole Foods or other local grocery stores and markets.