Come Sunday evening, I am as limp as the leftover vegetables in my fridge. After a busy weekend shuttling kids to and from their activities and social engagements, all I want is a hot bath, a cup of tea, and some melatonin.
Dinner is my final hurdle, a chance to gather the family together and recharge before beginning another hectic week. Though there are times when takeout is quite tempting, I prefer my weekend finale wholesome and home-brewed.
The idea of soup, noodles, and vegetables in the same bowl is especially appealing on a Sunday evening. A hearty, three-course meal in one, with only one pot to clean? Now we’re talking.
Rooting through my purchases from last week’s farmers market, I found a bulb of fennel that needed some attention (It never ended up in that gratin I was planning to make.), along with some wilting scallions. I tossed them into a pot with garlic, carrot and mushroom, and started building this Thai-inspired soup.
Since I was feeling too lazy to chop, I cut a few slices of unpeeled ginger and smashed a stalk of lemongrass, stuffing them in my tea strainer to infuse the vegetable broth. Pre-soaked bean thread noodles (cut them with a scissors so they are easier to eat) would keep the kids busy slurping. Some organic tofu added easy protein (cooked salmon, egg, or meat would also do the trick).
Less than fifteen minutes later, dinner was served, everyone was happy, and the new week was looking promising already.
1 tablespoon olive oil, grapeseed oil or canola oil
6 whole scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1-1/2 quarts seasoned vegetable or chicken stock
2” piece of fresh ginger, sliced
1 lemongrass stalk, crushed with the back of a knife and cut into small pieces
1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves, plus additional for garnish
1/3 cup low-sodium soy or fish sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons turbinado or natural brown sugar
1 dried chile pod
Kosher salt or vegetable stock cubes
1 tomato, diced
1-2 limes, juiced
1 (16-ounce) package firm organic tofu, diced into small cubes
8 ounces bean thread (glass) or rice noodles, soaked in hot water according to package instructions
1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
2. Add the scallions, garlic, carrot, and fennel, and sauté until softened (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.
3. Using a large tea strainer (or coffee filter tied with twine), make a sachet with the ginger, lemongrass pieces and cilantro leaves (including stems). Drop it into the pot along with the stock. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, until the flavors have developed and the broth is a rich color.
5. Remove the sachet and add the tomato, lime juice, tofu and glass noodles. Simmer a few minutes to warm through.
6. Ladle the soup into large bowls and serve immediately.
If you like curry, add some red curry paste to the sauténg vegetables and finish the soup with some light coconut milk. Other vegetables that go well in this soup: green beans, corn, snow peas, sweet peas, cauliflower, water chestnuts, fresh spinach…you name it!
This soup will keep well in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for a few months. To store, cool down the soup before putting in a plastic container.
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Photo credit: www.stockfood.co.nz